It’s holiday time!
Thanksgiving through Christmas … that time of year when social media feeds are saturated with happy family photos.
Do you ever wonder if they’re accurate images of truth behind the lens? Is everyone blissful or do all families have an Uncle Know-it-all, Aunt Opinionated, and Grandpa Why Can’t We Just Do Things the Way We’ve Always Done Them?
When it comes to family – almost everyone can think of someone who is hard to handle and almost every gathering includes at least one awkwardly uncomfortable conversation.
Which is why I’m thrilled to share this post by Julie Moore from Hallway Initiative.
Challenging relationships are “hallway” material.
I love what Julie has to say about hallways”
Hallways seem to be such a waste of real estate. They’re often narrow and dark, and they aren’t what you’d call “livable space.”
When I first heard the saying, “until God opens the door, praise Him in the hallway!” I felt like it was written just for me. Even though I don’t like hallways, I have a choice to make: I can either fume and fuss my way through them, or I can praise the Lord as I wait them out.
The Hallway Initiative was born out of a need to remind myself to make the effort to choose joy in times of hardship.
So, please join me and welcome Julie … step into the hallway and find out the best way to grow your family relationships in the days and weeks ahead.
How to Strengthen Your Family Relationships this Christmas
Many of us eagerly await the holiday season, viewing it as a time to catch up with family and friends and to renew our love for the Savior who made it all possible. But the holidays can also bring a bit of angst as well, especially for those who have a difficult relative to deal with.
As we seek to grow closer to the Lord during our celebration of His birth, we can follow His example for fostering a deeper appreciation for our family members, too, even those who might be a little harder to love.
When I look at how Christ handled people, it truly is amazing. His care for the young, the old, and the lowly is both humbling and inspiring. Reading through the Gospels, four things Jesus did while He was with people jump out at me, things we can do as well as we get ready for Christmas:
Prepare with Prayer
Over and over again, we see Jesus slipping off by Himself for a time of prayer with His Heavenly Father. If ever there were a human being who didn’t need to pray, it would have been Jesus. After all, He is the Son of God! Surely He knew and understood God’s will better than anyone else. But rather than skipping over prayer, we instead see Him praying more fervently than anyone else in Scripture.
For example, Jesus began His days with prayer. In Mark 1:35, we read:
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (NKJV).
And He also closed His day with prayer, according to Matthew 14:23:
“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there” (NKJV).
How many of us regularly start and end our days in prayer with the Lord? Honestly, I don’t do this nearly as often as I should be.
If God’s own Son needed to be in prayer as often as He was, we should follow His example and devote ourselves to spending time in prayer as well. And as we get ready to greet the holiday season and the relatives and friends it brings, we need that special communion with our Heavenly Father even more.
Meditate on Scripture
No matter where He went, Christ was always ready to offer Scripture to those He met. When He was under Satan’s attack, He defended Himself with Scripture. When He walked along with His disciples, He taught them with God’s Word. And when He rose from the dead, He demonstrated with Scripture how He had fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies.
Jesus constantly used Scripture in His earthly ministry. Below are just a few examples:
- At His baptism when John was reluctant to baptize Him (see Matthew 3:13-15)
- During His testing in the wilderness (see Matthew 4:1-11)
- On the Emmaus Road after His resurrection (see Luke 24:27)
Jesus clearly had committed much of God’s Word to memory. We should follow His example by dwelling on and memorizing Scripture, too.
For me, one of the most awe-inspiring aspects of Jesus’ ministry on Earth was the compassion He had for people. I’m definitely not the most compassionate person ever. You know it’s bad when a sick or injured child comes to our bedroom door in the middle of the night asking for Daddy, not Mommy!
But everywhere He went, Christ had a deep compassion for the lost sheep of Israel.
- Matthew 9:36 – “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (NKJV, emphasis added).
- Matthew 14:14 – “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick” (NKJV, emphasis added).
- Matthew 15:32 – “Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way” (NKJV, emphasis added).
Jesus loved people. He cared about their physical and spiritual needs. He reached out and touched the untouchable. That’s true compassion.
This Christmas, as we’re around people who may not be the easiest to get along with, we need to show the same compassion that Christ did. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember that they may be hurting. Remember that Christ died for them just as He did for you.
Think of all the times God has had to forgive you for your shortcomings and extend grace to those around you.
Love the Lost
Jesus deeply loved the lost. He longed for all people to come to salvation. He said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (NKJV).
As we gather in celebration of Christ’s birth this Christmas, we need to love those who aren’t yet saved. We should be seeking opportunities to share God’s love with them. When we understand that people’s deepest need is for salvation, this can help us love them and have compassion on them, to see them as Jesus sees them.
This Christmas, as we seek to grow closer to the Savior, may we follow His example and prepare with prayer, meditate on Scripture, cultivate compassion, and love the lost. In doing so, we’ll be better equipped for blessing and ministering to those around us!
Julie Moore is wife to Jon and mama to their four spark plugs. When not helping Jon with their startup or homeschooling the kids, she blogs at The Hallway Initiative where she offers Biblical encouragement for seasons of struggle. This past summer she wrote and published A Place Prepared, the story of how God used very difficult circumstances to teach her about His perfect plan.
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