Wednesday, December 10, 2014

When Holidays H-U-R-T !!!

     Gifts!  cards, parties, family dinners! Name any holiday, the stores are decorated and merchandise abounds. You can’t escape it! But not everyone can anticipate an enjoyable celebration.
     Many men and women have hurt feelings about holidays; most will keep their emotions under careful control.  Here comes Christmas; how do you feel about that? 
        Father’s Day might bring up some unhappy memories.  Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and even New Year's Eve may stir up old baggage that lingers on, every year again wounding the soul.
        Going to church on a holiday may make things worse, if all you’ll hear are platitudes and detailed examples of the perfect dad or the perfect mom or the perfect family.  If a greeting card is too “sweet” or too sarcastic that can hurt.  
      If you wince at the approach of some particular occasion don’t continue in this pattern; there’s a breakthrough for you.  If you are a relative of someone who dislikes certain observances there may be things you can do to ease the situation.
A person needs a strategy.
       Give yourself permission to take a few moments here. Step back from the immediate circumstances and take a dispassionate look at it. 
      Recall the simple facts:  people are not perfect.  You well know how easily the wrong word can slip out of your mouth. You don’t always have the right answer for someone, you forget, you are distracted by pain, or fear, or anger, or embarrassment.  
      Your attitude, your words, and your actions may have caused you grief. Or maybe it was what you didn’t say, didn’t do that still irritates you. Perhaps you withdrew quietly, but inwardly still simmer. Own up to your feelings.  Tell yourself — and then tell God.  He already knows, but it helps greatly to put words to those raw, festering feelings. 
      The good news here is God forgives.  When we honestly tell Him, “Oh, Lord, I blew it.  I’m so sorry.  Please forgive me.  I want to do better,” then we’ve taken that first step to peace of mind.
      Hand in hand with receiving that wonderful forgiveness for yourself is to give forgiveness to the other person, the one who caused the trouble.  Maybe you could never envision looking that person in the eye and giving them forgiveness, that’s OK for now.  Just be willing to be willing. Let God tenderize your heart as he heals your wounded spirit. He invites you to ask Him for wisdom.
      Are you the friend or family member?  Pray about it. Ask gently ahead of time something like, “Will you be OK with this?  Have you made peace with him/her about it? “ Or, “I don’t want to step in where you’re not ready, but I do care about you.  I can see this is still affecting you.  Please remember that I love you and God loves you, too.”  

Are you toughing it out?
      Think about this:  if nothing changes with the external circumstances and with that other person what will it be like, a year from now?  
      Is this problem holding my happiness hostage? 
      If others will be impacted by how I respond, will it be worth it to consider them?
      Am I mature enough to own up to my responsibility in the problem?
      Can I share this honestly with a Christian friend?  
      Do I need professional counsel?

There’s a time to deal with it, 
and there’s a time to move on.
      Be assured that if you decide to “move on” and haven’t settled the core issue that sometime in the future it will surface again.  God wants to grow us up to a new level of maturity, a new step of faith and obedience.  
      Are you being more considerate to the other person than you are to yourself?  Can you see God using you in some way to bless others, once you’ve conquered your present situation?  
      Many times God uses Scripture to speak to us. Turn to the Psalms or Proverbs.  Pray for guidance.  Then, read thoughtfully until you’ve found a nugget of truth for yourself. God’s principles don’t change. 
“Though my father and mother forsake me, 
the LORD will receive me.” (Psalm 27:10, NIV).

                                    The answer you need may be very near. 
      The very help you need may be predicated upon your willingness to learn from the trouble.  Ask God to give you a teachable spirit; then thank Him ahead of time, by faith, for what He’s going to give you: discernment, strength, stability, peace of mind.  
      Someone may be praying for you right now.  Someone may be standing on the sidelines, ready to give you an encouraging word.  Sometimes we miss seeing the simple, quiet nudges from others who really care. 
      Relinquish your right to be perpetually tough, or angry, or depressed.  God has a better way for you, and when it happens give Him the credit.  

How long has it been since you’ve been happy?
      Let  God heal your memories, your past, your emotions. The next holiday doesn’t have to hurt.  He has a beautiful plan for your life.  Let it begin now. . .

by Elaine Hardt ©2003