“Love…does not take into account a wrong suffered” -1 Cor. 13:5
What an interesting time of year! Thanksgiving is a blessing, and they say that Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year.” Christmas is a “jolly” four weeks between the two holidays, yet, stats expose this month as the most depressive and difficult time of the year for many people. But that is certainly not what God desires. His plan is toward peace, contentment, and completeness.
Yes, a myriad of ingredients produce this difficult season: the weather can be cold, the pressure to buy gifts is high, the stress of party after party can bog us down, and we’re reminded of the loved ones we miss.
But Thanksgiving and Christmas are holidays for family. And most families, if not all families, have a grocery list of issues that have not been resolved. One important trend I have discovered in my years of working with families: most families have some form of dysfunction. They have always been like that. Why? Because families are made up of people and all people are wounded, to some degree. Yep. We’re a mess!
Wounds are medicated and healed when they are brought to the light. Family works when family members submit themselves to love one another. Family works when anger accounts are kept empty by reconciliation and forgiveness. But, unfortunately, most family accounts are pretty full.
I love well-written stories about healing in families. “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean is one of my favorites. This quote from the book describes this family dynamic:
“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them -we can love completely without complete understanding.”
The key is “loving without understanding.” We can all do that one. During these holidays, as we’re around family, may we all reach out to love, give and bless. May we do the hard work of reconciliation and forgiveness to keep our accounts empty and our love flourishing. After all, the more our accounts are emptied, the more capacity we have to love. And we must remember that forgiveness has nothing to do with whether THEY make a change or not.
So, have a holly-jolly Christmas season this year and enjoy your family. Love those who are sometimes unlovable. That’s what God did for us when He sent His Son to be born and die for our sin. If we have maintenance work of forgiveness to do, then clean the slates during the holidays.
Family is difficult and messy. But it’s a beautiful mess. So this holiday season, dive in! Get wet! Love, forgive, touch, interact, and love again. I love our family SO much and cherish the time we get to be together.
Entertain your beautiful mess and enjoy the season. Realize we can love only because God loved us first…
…as a beautiful mess.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©