You may be the one God uses to bring about a successful holiday gathering. Deeper still, God may use your family gathering to increase your inner peace.
Are you willing to be the peacemaker in the midst of strained family relationships? If you jumped at that offer, I admire your confidence. If your insides went squishy at the thought, you have a friend in me!
My family has…dynamics.
You know; mindsets that marry attitudes, which influence behavior. Behavior that – given time – carves character.
Here’s a few of my family’s characteristics:
Leaders and followers.
Primarily carnivores; two vegans.
Emotional spewers alongside stuffers.
Followers of Christ at various stages of growth.
Prodigals and those waiting patiently.
Each characteristic in my list is comprised of life-stories, and those stories forged the dynamics of my family.
The story I share in this post began with a phone call, and a single request.
“Mama, I don’t want Christmas presents or any gifts this year. I just want all of us to get together for Thanksgiving.”
His one request cracked open a string of stories authored by turmoil, secrets, torrents of tears, and moments of joy etched on my heart.
His one request was birthed from pain entrenched in his heart; pain with tendrils knitting our family together – the good and the bad.
My oldest son chose a path, which created a chasm most of my extended family members are not willing to cross, and it is most obvious during holiday gatherings. Grandparents and aunts and uncles send messages of love and prayers to him. But so long as he continues down his path, he is not invited to attend gatherings in their homes.
I have two sons. As things stand, one is welcome to the family gatherings; the other is not.
This story cast me as a pivotal character. Without asking my permission, life placed me in the role of determining the trajectory of our family holiday gatherings by how I chose to conduct myself.
In addition to attending extended family gatherings, my husband and I chose to open our home to our immediate family only. For the past three years, we gathered in our way; no grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins. It was our way of keeping our little family together by living the kind of love Christ showered on us.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 (NASB)
I was aware of the ways God used our gatherings as an avenue toward healing in our home. What I didn’t recognize was that God used our private gatherings to magnify the divide between our oldest son and his extended family. He missed them, and he knew time was no respecter of his will.
His one request landed me in a familiar faith-place; a place of decision.
“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight – ….” – 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NASB)
The path of faith taught me that nothing is wasted in God’s economy; even a seemingly impassable gap is a valuable tool in His hands.
Choosing to live by faith means I don’t have all the answers, but I believe in the One who does.
God’s one request in my moment of decision was to trust Him.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)
Offering an invitation to my extended family members to join us for Thanksgiving was an act of obedience. I am confident of my family’s love for me and my sons, yet the possibility of rejection nearly choked the words clear into silence. Nearly.
Our extended family gathering occurred a couple weeks ago – and included a couple members who accepted the invitation. This post was born of one moment from that day; the moment I recognized how God uses those who are willing to follow His Word in faith.
What I thought was impossible – what would turn into a fiasco – became a peaceful reality.
So, how can my experience encourage you?
If you are a child of God through Christ,
- the same power that enabled me to walk in faith resides in you.
- inner peace is not only a possibility, it’s a promise.
- dark places become opportunities to shine His light of love.
- don’t allow what you see to limit what God wants to do through you.
In all circumstances, God calls and equips His children to live according to His will.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18 (ESV)
How has God enabled you to live peaceably with others?