Your friends, family and your love must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort, and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship flourishing and growing.
Hello all and Happy Late Thanksgiving! Or maybe it’s Early-Merry-Happy-Whatever-You-Celebrate-This-Time-of-Year, I’m not sure. I do know I’m not wishing anyone a Happy Black Friday 🙂 Whatever this time of year means for you and your family, I do know that what most of us want is Happy-Merry and what a lot of us feel is pressure or disappointment. Contrary to what the Hallmark store tells you and Black Friday retailers want you to believe, this can be a stressful and sad time for some people. I actually think it could be a much happier time of year if we weren’t all so pressured to make it a happy time of year.
I mean…really. If you don’t see your family on, say the 4th of July, do you feel like you’ve missed out on something? I think there is so much pressure on this particular holiday season because paradoxically it reminds of us of what we are missing, rather than what we have. I don’t mean to sound like Eyeore, I actually had a lovely Thanksgiving, the first big family gathering since my mom died in September. It was a bittersweet day but there was actually a lot of freedom that came with it, to be honest. We really mixed up the old traditions and a good time was had by all. The funny thing is that I think she would be happy we did that now that she’s gone, but I also think she probably would have not wanted to change the tradition while she was still here. Funny how that seems to work out. I actually enjoyed the way we did it this year a lot more than how we’ve done it in the past and it was considerably less pressured.
So I’ve been thinking about family and what we seem to want this time of year as opposed to what we might give or get around the holidays. Which leads me to something I read quite some time ago that I want to share in case it might be helpful.
Having said that….OK, so I admit it. I’m not normally a reader of Max Lucado’s work. He and I disagree on many things theologically in terms of belief and approach. But this is a great piece and I have had so many chats lately with a lot of people feeling pain about the “hellidays,” family time, obligations and expectations, stresses and so on that I feel compelled to address it. So, I thought I’d pass along something someone sent me about how Jesus dealt with his own family. Nothing original here…not in terms of what I’m posting, but also not in terms of the challenges we all face with the folks we want to love, or wish would love us.
It can be so painful for a lot of people this time of year…it’s lonely for many and the truth is that I think most of us wish for some version of Norman Rockwell when in truth we have some version of the Manson family. So, as we go into a time that is intended to celebrate the harvest and abundance of another year, I thought I’d post this as a reality check. Because if the guy a lot of people believe is God in the flesh wasn’t understood or appreciated by his family, then maybe it’s a little easier for us to let go some too…
So, even though I didn’t get here before Thanksgiving, here’s my wish for all of you anyway….May you feel the blessings and peace of a loving and abundant universe. May you live in peace and dwell in gratitude. May you feel the arms of a loving God in the hugs of friends and family. May you celebrate another year of bountiful, joyful harvest in your life. May you giggle and chuckle, rest and play, eat, drink and be merry. May you be blessed with good friends and a spiritual family that is deep, rich and wide. May you feel compassion for and peace with difficult relatives. May we all experience love and forgiveness in our families. And, if you are so inclined, May you remember all for whom this time of year is painful and send them a few prayers and some of your own joy as well. Thanks. Peace and blessings to all…
With that, I leave you with Max Lucado…
Dealing with Difficult Relatives
by Max Lucado
Does Jesus have anything to say about dealing with difficult relatives? Is there an example of Jesus bringing peace to a painful family? Yes, there is.
It may surprise you to know that Jesus had a difficult family. If your family doesn’t appreciate you, take heart, neither did Jesus’.
“His family … went to get him because they thought he was out of his mind” (Mark 3:21).
Jesus’ siblings thought their brother was a lunatic. They weren’t proud—they were embarrassed!
It’s worth noting that he didn’t try to control his family’s behavior, nor did he let their behavior control his. He didn’t demand that they agree with him. He didn’t sulk when they insulted him. He didn’t make it his mission to try to please them.
Each of us has a fantasy that our family will be like the Waltons, an expectation that our dearest friends will be our next of kin. Jesus didn’t have that expectation. Look how he defined his family: “My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants” (Mark 3:35).
When Jesus’ brothers didn’t share his convictions, he didn’t try to force them. He recognized that his spiritual family could provide what his physical family didn’t. If Jesus himself couldn’t force his family to share his convictions, what makes you think you can force yours?
Having your family’s approval is desirable but not necessary for happiness and not always possible. Jesus did not let the difficult dynamic of his family overshadow his call from God. And because he didn’t, this chapter has a happy ending.
What happened to Jesus’ family?
Mine with me a golden nugget hidden in a vein of the Book of Acts. “Then [the disciples] went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.… They all continued praying together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers” (Acts 1:12, 14, emphasis added).
What a change! The ones who mocked him now worship him. The ones who pitied him now pray for him. What if Jesus had disowned them? Or worse still, what if he’d suffocated his family with his demand for change?
He didn’t. He instead gave them space, time, and grace. And because he did, they changed. How much did they change? One brother became an apostle (Gal. 1:19) and others became missionaries (1 Cor. 9:5).
So don’t lose heart. God still changes families.
From He Still Moves Stones
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1999) Max Lucado