Everyone has at least one relative who makes holiday gatherings with the family less than Hallmark perfect.
Be honest, you had someone come to mind, didn’t you?
Families in the U.S. are preparing to gather next week to celebrate and remember the year’s blessings. Most of us will celebrate by eating too much and carrying on family traditions that have been passed down for generations.
This year, I’d like to invite you to try a new tradition.
Let go of the past and lead with love!
The truth is…
Like it or not, God gave you your family for a reason.
They are the people who filled the early chapters of your life story and good or bad, God can redeem your story and use it to help and bless others.
I get it, your brother-in-law is obnoxious and your aunt and uncle drive you up the wall. They bait you and you’re tired of going home with a bloody tongue from biting back all the things you’d like to say but don’t.
But there is something important we all need to remember.
Yep, me too!
Everyone, yes everyone . . . you, your siblings, parents, and your obnoxious aunt and uncle view the world through a lens of their own experiences and emotions. You may not agree with their perspective. You may not like it. Truthfully, it may even push your hot buttons … but you have not lived their life and can’t know all things that have happened to them that shape their thoughts and beliefs.
And they don’t know yours either.
So, the best way to let the past go and lead with love is to start with … GRACE
Grace is giving something that isn’t deserved.
Be honest, don’t you want your family to treat you with grace?
So, I turned to some of my favorite posts, quotes, and Scripture verses to help us get ready to let go of the past and lead with love as we gather with our families this year.
How to Let Go of the Past and Celebrate with Your Family
Begin the healing process by forgiving…
♥ “The way you help heal the world is you start with your own family.” ~Mother Teresa
Take your frustrations and all those painful memories to God and ask Him to help you forgive and let go of the past.
♥ Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:12–13
Many of us go to family get-togethers burdened with a load of hurt-filled memories, offenses, and frustrations. Take them to God and ask Him to help you forgive and let go of the past.
And then be honest … you aren’t perfect. Your siblings and parents could probably make a list of ways you hurt them. We all need grace more often than we’d like to admit.
And if you’re still struggling … just think about how much better you’ll feel if you let go of your anger and bitterness. There is healing for everyone involved when we choose to forgive.
♥ “A man ought to live so that everybody knows he is a Christian… and most of all, his family ought to know.” ~ D.L. Moody
Don’t preach. Don’t be a know-it-all. Be humble and…
Ask God to give you an extra measure of Spiritual fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22–23)
Love them like Jesus!
♥ Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20–21
Give thanks for everything? Everyone?
Yes! Even the difficult people in your family. God may be using them to grow your character.
Wow, that doesn’t come easily, does it? Other translations of this verse use words like serve, yield, and respect.
Why? Because we love Jesus! Don’t worry about being “right;” decide to show the love of Jesus because you love Jesus.
♥ The same Jesus Who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation.~ Adrian Rogers
Keep praying for that miracle. God is still transforming hearts and minds. Even the person who seems to be beyond hope . . . don’t give up. Nothing is impossible, God is still transforming hearts every day!
♥ Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4–7
I like the Life Application Bible’s notes for these verses…
“God’s kind of love is directed outward toward others, not inward toward ourselves. It is utterly unselfish. This kind of love goes against our natural inclinations. It is impossible to have this love unless God helps us set aside our own natural desires so that we can love and not expect anything in return.”
It’s not easy. More than that . . . it’s hard! But with God’s help, we can love even when it’s hard!
♥Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesians 4:2
A prayer before you celebrate with your family…
Father, please help me. I have family members I can’t wait to see next week and family members it’s hard to be around. We’ve said and done things in the past that have hurt feelings and caused separation.
By your grace, give me the strength to forgive and let it go. Help me to remember how much You have forgiven in me. Help me love like Jesus. Please cover me with Your peace and give me all I need to glorify You in my family.
Father, I have family members whose views on life seem so far from what I believe you want for us. Please guide our conversations. Help me listen with respect and speak with gentleness. Give me the words You want me to say and help me know when to be still.
I believe I can do “all things” through Christ Jesus who gives me strength. Please give me the strength to love my family well.
Thank you for the countless blessings You pour into my life. Thank you for my family! Amen.
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