The holidays bring families together; this can be a joyous time of celebration OR it can be a time of intense conflict and stress. Over the years, I’ve experienced both the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child, and the horror of unfiltered, angry words instigating heart-wrenching pain.
If Christmas brings joy and peace in your home, give glory to God and thank Him for this gift! If the holiday season brings out the worst in you, or in those around you, here are some tips to help you cope during the holiday season.
1. The Bible calls us to pray for those who persecute us. Pray for the “black sheep” in the family. Pray for those who have hurt you in the past. Ask God to help you to forgive them. Love keeps no record of wrongs.
2. Take time outs. Be sure to schedule breaks where you can get away by yourself and refuel. Do this before things escalate out of control.
3. Pause before you speak and think about the potential consequences of your words. The Bible likens the tongue to a match that starts great fires…guard your tongue.
4. Read the Christmas story in Luke 2. Jesus humbled himself and left his throne in heaven to live in a world that would hate him, humiliate him, and ultimately kill him…and He knew this before He came. Why did he come then? Love. He loves the unloveable. He loves us in spite of ourselves. We can follow his example and extend love and grace to those who are difficult to lvoe.
5. Practice gratitude. When you are spending extensive time with your family, look for reasons to be thankful. Many are alone during the holidays; if you are with family, be thankful you are not alone. Many are grieving the loss of loved ones; be thankful for the people in your life today. Many are hungry and in need of shelter. Be intentional about practicing thankfulness.
When we do these things, our circumstances may not change, but our attitudes may. It is amazing how a change in attitude can become contagious.