We are all gathered around the table. I can’t keep my eyes off the pumpkin pie, the mashed potatoes, and the creamed corn. I want to devour it all. My mouth is watering.
But, as I smile, as I look, as I sit, deafening sounds quickly pull me out of my delightful daydream, and throw me back into reality. A storm is brewing. Someone is annoyed – again. Agitated -yet again. Frustrated – just like last year.
Who knows what irritated them! It could be one of many things – drinks weren’t served fast enough, a rude piercing reply was launched or a digging question was fired over the table. The “why” is not of as much concern as “how” this sinks my holiday south.
Why can’t we give thanks in peace?
Why can’t we all get along?
Why does it feel that we have to endure holiday rather than enjoy it?
This is should be a time of thankfulness – of gladness – not a time of madness.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are days we expect to be perfect gems of sparkle, joy and peace. Somehow, we think, because we control the preparations, the decorations and conversations, everyone should meet our expectations. But, when they don’t, we tend to get bloated with disappointment.
Yet, God calls us to enjoy this day, rather than endure it. He calls us to leave perfect in the kitchen to embrace imperfect at the table, so we don’t end up hiding in the bathroom with tears.
5 Tips to Survive Holiday Chaos:
1. Seek to embrace verses erase the person in need.
Jesus ran to the people in need. His heart was inclined to those in pain. He didn’t demand, but gave his best.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Sit under the shade of the cross. Then you will find compassion for the meaningless jabs, frustrating arguments and aggravating words. Heck, you might even see you are just as sinful as they.
2. Be truly thankful – for both the yummy and the yucky of life.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Phil. 4:12)
True thankfulness takes abundance and scarcity, trials and triumphs, jerks and joy – and gives thanks no matter. Why? Because all are from the Lord. All have a purpose. All are meant to refine.
3. A storm may brew, but without a doubt, God will bring you through.
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Is. 41:13)
It’s ok to feel weak, but unnecessary to feel ruined because God stands ready to help. Call out to God. He waits to run to your rescue.
4. Know you stand secure, no matter what others do.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers. neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro. 8:38-39).
People can do what they are going to do. But, none of this impacts our standing with Christ. We are in Him. We are secure. We are loved. We are a new creation. If we stand in Christ, we can’t stand outside of him.
5. Find a heart of thanks for the burnt food.
True gratefulness is not just being thankful for all the delicious pickings, but also for the burnt food. If we have food – or family to complain about – we are already blessed. We are blessed with the perfect, but also with the imperfect. Why? Because through the imperfect, we see our need for a Savior. Through our failings, our trials and our frustrations, we find hope in One who is greater than these things.
God makes imperfect burnt food taste delicious when we see it for what it is – an undeserved gift.
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)
Bonus Tip (consider it your second helping): Realize it is impossible to control others.
We can’t control things. We can only control ourself. And, no one can take our spirit of thanks away, without us allowing them to do it. No one can steal our heart – unless we allow them to.
When we stop looking for everyone to be perfect, we can start enjoying them for who they truly are.
When our standards aren’t higher than the twinkle-lighted roof, we can see people’s hearts, history and pains.
And, we sometimes, can even empathize and minister to them.
So, this holiday season, let’s celebrate and see all that we have – burnt food and pickings. People will always disappoint – and we will disappoint people. No one is perfect – except One. But, the ultimate truth is that God’s grace never ends. It nourishes us when the spread leaves us hungry for more love.
Let’s lay this truth on the table so we can pass, dish and eat up all the goodness of grace – in our own hearts and towards the hearts of others.
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