Jump Start # 2968
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Thanksgiving is upon us. It’s a busy time for many families. Some travel. Some host. Food, football, fun and family—that’s part of the plans for so many. Yet, in many homes, Thanksgiving is stressful, tense and not something that some look forward to.
Here are a couple of reasons for that:
First, in many homes, someone is missing this Thanksgiving. There has been a funeral this past year and a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a child is not there to enjoy the happiness of the times. This is true in my family. This will be a Thanksgiving without my dad. Even when we lived away and couldn’t make it back, I always talked to him on Thanksgiving day. Not this year. He is on the other side having gone through that door of death. And, for some, instead of smiles and laughter, it will be a period of tears and sorrow. There may be some who even feel that it is difficult to be thankful.
Instead of mourning what you don’t have, be thankful for what you did have. The memories. The love. The joy, the special times. There is much to be thankful for. Your example will help others who may not have the courage and faith as you do.
Second, family gatherings can be stressful because of the dysfunction that thrives in so many homes. Comparisons. Jealousy. Favoritism. Mix all of that together and you have one stressful meal. Some homes need a lot of forgiving, but that doesn’t happen. Some homes won’t move past mistakes in the past. Some homes are missing love, respect and decency. So, ‘home for the holidays,’ is not a warm, fuzzy feeling for some. You might be the one who is the peacemaker in such a mess. You might be the one who blazes the trail for forgiveness and grace. Others may not join in. You might be the center of verbal attacks, but you know what the Lord would want you to do.
Third, for the righteous, coming home often puts one in difficult settings. Within the family are those who have divorced and remarried many times. There is one who is homosexual. There is one who openly drinks alcohol and wants everyone to join him, even the little ones. There is one who is living with her boyfriend. There is one who is proud to be an atheist and he loves to ridicule religion. There is one who is neglecting his kids. There is one who spends money recklessly and has no regard for the future. There is one who is always dropping names. There is one who fell away from the Lord and has a nasty attitude about the church. There is one brings his slobbering dogs. There is one who burps at the table. There is one who shows off all the latest things purchased. There is one who has to out do everyone else’s story. There is one who thinks their kids are the brightest and the best. There is one who rarely bathes. There is one who is always late and everyone is forever waiting on that person. There is the one who loves to talk about politics. There is one who hates politics. There is one who if you don’t like his favorite team, won’t let you go without a verbal dressing down. There is the one who is always sarcastic. There is the one who cusses, even in front of the kids. There is one who shows up dressed immodest. There is one who wants to smoke, even at the table. There is one who always cheats when games are played. There is one who lies and laughs about it. There is one who sticks their finger in the dip and licks it off and then does it again, with that same finger. There is the one who flaunts breaking the rules. There is the one who just got released from prison. There is the one who can’t keep a job. There is the one who is always asking you for a favor and some money.
Did I get them all? Uncomfortable, uncomfortable, uncomfortable. And, you leave with a headache and a promise that you’ll never do that again. But you do. Every year you go through the same misery. It’s not fun. It’s not something you look forward to. You wonder why you have to be a part of such a messed up family. But consider, maybe God has placed you right there to be a light into the world. Maybe through you, one or more will see that there is a better way to live.
How does one survive a messy situation like that? First, don’t go in with a dog fight mentality. You don’t have to ‘fix’ everyone nor solve every problem. Most don’t want to be fixed and some problems you can’t solve. Second, pray, pray, pray. Third, look for goodness, kindness and be thankful for that. Fourth, stand your ground where you have to. Protect your kids. You can do this with kindness. You can do this without raising your voice. Finally, don’t carry an “I am better than you are” attitude with you. They will shoot you down for that. There are buttons some love to push. There are topics that some love to stir people up with. You do not have to attend every argument you are invited to and respond to every opinion expressed. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord—remember that. Do that.
In everything be thankful. That “everything” part is hard. Sometimes we don’t see anything to be thankful for. Look around. Look deep. It’s there.
You’ll get through this and you’ll do fine. Rather than dreading it, you are entering a mission field. Think about the good you can do.