During this season, our families get together and eat, exchange gifts, share and, if you have an aunt like mine, enjoy one to many glasses of wine well before the party even starts. My grandmother partakes in the wine consumption as well. She’s 92; it’s funny!
But for some, gathering with our family creates great tension, emotional stress, and unresolved pain. Why? Because at some level, we all have a disposition that works against the Gospel story and it effects our families.
For you, it could be a father who had been drunk most of your life, or a mother’s addicted to pain medications. There could be traces of adultery that still linger in the air, or clear marks made in the sand with a sibling who has chosen a different path.
I believe as followers of Jesus, we have a very distinct role in our family, a role that only can be played out by choosing the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul writes in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” You may be thinking, “That’s harsh, that hard, almost impossible!” and you’re right. This is why we so desperately need the grace and God and the power of the Spirit. Healing is possible this season, freedom from the tension and pain is possible.
Here are seven ways you can love your family. These are from an article I read in FamilyLife printed in 2006.
- Forgive their offense/action. When family commits an act against us, they owe us a debt. In most cases, it’s one that can’t be paid. Forgiveness means that you choose to wipe away the debt they owe.
- Extend mercy. I think about the mercy extended to me every day from God and how it flows continuously. As receivers of so much mercy, we should also be extenders of that same mercy.
- Appreciate the good things. Your family has redeeming qualities. What positive attributes and traits did they pass to you?
- Do something as an act of kindness. Serving leads to happiness!
- Choose to speak kindly to them. James 3:5 tells us that words are powerful. They can bring death, but they can also bring life.
- Pray for the parents, sibling, or relative who mistreated you.
- Share the Gospel that transforms lives!
Your fear may be that loving them, you are excusing what they have done, but no evil escapes God’s eyes and vengeance belongs to Him (Romans 12:19). We can do this by choosing to lean into to the power of the Holy Spirit!