Note from Angela: Today’s post is a Christmas favorite from last December. I hope you enjoy it and take some time to slow down and remember why we celebrate this wonderful time of year. In an effort to spend some time quality time with my family, my next new post will be on December 12th.
Emily was heading over to a friend’s house to play when I told her, “Be respectful and kind.” She said, “Oh don’t worry! I don’t sin at other people’s houses.”
She was completely serious. “I don’t sin at other people’s houses.” Apparently she is comfortable sinning at home, but she draws the line once she walks out the door.
You and I do the same. We definitely do this at Christmastime. Don’t get me wrong, this is my favorite time of year, but it is also the most hectic time of year. We have birthday parties, family Christmas parties, piano recitals, ballet rehearsals, choir practices and performances, guests from out of town, special family traditions, Christmas musicals—need I go on? We add all of this to our normal schedule of work and school and life can feel pretty stressful.
Emily’s comment made me realize that we are more than capable of being gracious when we walk out the door, but can be pretty comfortable letting our sinful natures run wild at home. In fact, on Sunday I had done just that. In the midst of a busy day—after church and a few hours before the kids’ piano recital—we realized that Ben had apparently grown three inches overnight and his pants were too short. I love to rest on Sundays for many reasons, but this was obviously going to override my plans. My back was hurting, and by the time we returned home I was more than a little tired and crabby.
Somehow my husband was able to turn things around for me. Thinking it over I realized he had given me 5 gifts that helped me keep Christmas well in my heart and home.
Laughter: Michael didn’t allow my attitude to change his and soon his infectious laughter was too hard to resist. As he made up new words to Christmas carols my grumpy feelings gave way to laughter.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2 (ESV)
Respect: Michael didn’t pull me aside before we left to lecture me. Instead he gave me special consideration and appreciation for how I was feeling. Did I deserve it? Maybe not. Regardless, he gave respect freely and it changed my heart.
Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:17 (NLT)
Kindness: As simple as this word sounds it is often overlooked in our homes. We are so comfortable we each other that we fail to make the effort towards simple kindness. But kindness goes a long way, especially when you are hurting.
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? Romans 2:4 (NLT)
Believe the Best: Michael didn’t judge me but believed the best. I was hurting. I was tired. He considered my needs and looked for ways to help. What if we all extended that kind of grace to one another in our homes this Christmas? I believe the stress would melt away as we felt understood instead of criticized.
Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Romans 15:7 (NLT)
Forgive: Do you have a tendency to fight it out, a refusal to let things go, an inability to leave a discussion for another day? This is the perfect season to practice forgiveness. Not because it is deserved, but because it was a gift given to us by Jesus.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13(NLT)
Will this Christmas season be just another ordinary time? Or will you be intentional and create an extraordinary Christmas, a Christmas to remember, a Christmas where you give to the ones who know you the best and still love you, flaws and all.
Which one of the 5 gifts above will you focus on today? I’d love to hear from you!