Relationships and Christmas Part One
My Christmas Intention
At the end of the Thanksgiving week, I sat down with my notebook and began the Christmas giving and gift list. I aim to start the season with purpose, planning, and lists. This looks prettier some years than others. As I scribbled out ideas on what to do for and get my loved ones, I started to pray. Asking the Lord what I could give Him, I felt God nudging my focus toward relationships.
You see, I love people, and I love God, but if I’m not careful, I’m swept up in crossing off my list and the getting-things-done seasonal trap. Yes, most of the items on my list are others-focused (buying gifts, charitable giving, baking, cooking, house tasks, etc.) And I can certainly get my tinsel in a tangle when my focus is all about productivity. I want to connect deeply in my relationships this Christmas, especially in my relationship with Jesus.
Therefore, relationships are my 2017 Christmas intention.
Yes, responsibilities are important and necessary. However, I want to center in on others and invest deeply. Here are a few points and scriptures I will use to guide me along the way this Advent time. I’d love to share them with you.
~The ultimate model of a Christmas relationship (of course) is God and his son:
“...and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” Matthew 3:17 NASB
The Christmas story oozes in human dynamics: God and Jesus, Mary and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, Mary and Jesus, the shepherds, the Wiseman, and Herod. The Bible is replete with kinship and family ties. Relationships matter to God. Importantly, the one we share with Him is of utmost priority.
Each day of Advent, I spend time reading “God’s Story” and in prayer. This is a time of quiet focus as the dawn blooms and the morning birds chirp. Time for my Saviour and I to gel before the hustle and bustle of the day. I record my Christmas thanks and trials. I cherish this time for centering and perspective.
I heard it said once that Christmas means more of Christ. Yes, this is my craving, more of Christ, each Advent day.
~Prickly people are growth opportunities (insert emoji here):
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3 NLT
Nothing gets our tinsel in a tangle like prickly people. Can I get an amen?! It is a subject that comes up often. Even yesterday, two coworkers shared their feelings of dread over spending Christmas with certain family members who soured their Thanksgiving.
Relational headaches often intensify during the holidays, don’t they?
We all have challenging people in our lives. Those who drive us batty. Those who back us in a corner and talk the night away. Those who put us down and are unpleasable. The ones who see the world through sour lenses and find it necessary to share their every opinion with us. UHHH! I call them EGR’s- Extra Grace Required. Fill in your own blank: those who ___________.
Yet as we flip these situations over (not the people!) and look at them with the eyes of Christ, and not our own irritated perspective, we have opportunities to grow. We have occasions to love and practice peace and grace.
This requires forethought and prayer. I often copy scripture on cards or put them on my phone before walking into an EGR situation. If need be, I take a time out and say the verses and pray somewhere private. The bathroom is perfect for this.
This year, I am praying in particular for my interaction with one who is especially challenging. My prayer is that God will give me extra doses of compassion and understanding and patience. I pray the Lord will show me ways to love and that I will not avoid but instead embrace this person.
- What is your Christmas Intention for 2017?
- What does “more of Christ” look like for you during Advent?
- Think of two EGR’s in your life who are hard to love, hard to like. How will you love them differently this season and not allow your tinsel to get in a tangle?