If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone – Romans 12:18 NIV
The holidays are fast approaching. How is it that they are coming so fast now! Thanksgiving is at the end of this month and I believe I heard that it is the biggest time of year for family gatherings, even over Christmas. If that is true, then in a few weeks families will come to the Thanksgiving table in one of three ways: they will come in love with peace; or discord, carrying old emotional baggage; or worse yet, come simply in indifference for the day, believing anything more would seem unachievable and too hard to approach.
When family members reunite at the holidays, or weddings and funerals for that matter, it can be comforting to be together unless the work has not been done to keep the relationships within the family healthy. In that case, old hurts and offenses that have been swept under the carpet and never resolved, can make it barely possible to come together just to “make nice” for a day.
There is a difference between the words “reunite” and “reconcile”. Reunite means just coming together. But reconcile means to bring into agreement or harmony; to make compatible. Those words and actions often get mistakened for meaning the same thing. A reuniting of family that comes together and exchanges pleasantries are often lulled into believing everything has been restored again and the family is back on track. How nice but it is only fleeting! It doesn’t take any time at all for things to fall back into the ditch once everyone has returned back home again because the work to reconcile was not done. Differences were not ironed out and lovingly dealt with. God was not sought for wisdom and peace; instead rejection roots deeper and hurts grow stronger year after year.
Each person can make a case for their side of things and past disagreements or offenses and all too often, these hard-hearted emotions are sadly taken to the grave. These emotions lead to possessing an “un-loving” spirit and the possibility that over time a person can become cold and turn away from God.
Family discord isn’t part of God’s plan for us. He honors the family and we should too. Like the photo today of the pumpkins, they are part of the same family but they are each individual and different, one of a kind, yet they can sit side by side to one another in harmony. That is simplifying it but that is the idea. But you may be thinking by now, our family is a mess and no one is talking to each other and even if I tried, I don’t think it could work to have love and peace. The good news is God gives us prayer. It is the only tool for situations like these. God can change hearts. He can cause divine appointments. He can simply, most magnificently do anything He wants. Our job is to do a temperature check on our hearts. Meaning, are we pure in thought. Do we forgive from the heart? Have we repented for our part of any discord? Sometimes, a relationship may never be restored to what we hope it could be and maybe it simply can’t be restored at all because the person on the other side is not willing. But that is out of our control. All we can do is make sure we have a receptive and pure heart. That we wish no malice. And any justice is God’s business, not ours. If wrongs need to be righted, He is the avenger. Our prayers can make a difference.
And if your family is emotionally healthy, praise Him. Be a light to other families because you are blessed and have done the work to maintain compatibility. Are there perfect families out there? Certainly not. We are all human. There are problems and misunderstandings that come from time to time but if dealt with early and not allowed to fester, there is no potential for problems to be magnified into huge rifts. The families that I have observed that are beacons of God’s Light are the ones that give Him honor and first place.
Now back to Thanksgiving. For anyone for whatever reason that has to be alone for the holidays, lean on God. He says He will never depart from us. I have been in your shoes and it isn’t easy but it gives you the whole day to spend with God. And if it is standing room only at your table, don’t take it for granted. God has placed you all together to love each other and to count your blessings together. For those that are showing up to dinner just because of obligation, there is time to ask God to soften the situation all the way around so it can be the best family holiday you have ever enjoyed. God’s blessings on each one of you.