The holidays are approaching. Most of us are starting to make shopping lists, buying and wrapping presents, toying with menus. We want to make this a special time for our family—the best holiday ever. We dream of those Norman Rockwell gatherings where everyone is picture-perfect happy. And we do our best to make it perfect. Yet deep in our hearts we know that the likelihood of us all making it through much more than a meal without some sort of drama somewhere, with someone, would take a miracle second only to Peter walking on water.
In a recent interaction with a friend, we noted the tension in our conversation, the elevation change of our voices, and how emotional we each became when we began to talk about the holidays with our families. Boy, this is a touchy subject (for us all); after all, it’s about our families—those we cherish. I want to approach this subject with the respect it deserves—with tenderness and love, humility and transparency. I have the most amazing family ever (ask me, I adore my family and the in-laws and grandchildren are so special to us). Make one disparaging comment about them and I’ll fight you to the finish. But truth be told, we ain’t perfect (see my blog’s Meet Carol disclaimer that if you are looking for perfect, you need to find another blog, but if you can allow God to continue to mold me and you want to grow with me, then read on).
I write with total humility and fear before God for He has been teaching me that I don’t know it all, that often I’m part of the problems in my family (if not THE problem), and that I need to continue to grow and learn. For example: I must confess to being a FIX IT mom. If there is any (and I do mean ANY) dissention in my family, I pick at it and keep picking at it until it is a bleeding sore because I just want everyone to love each other (and God) so badly. I keep thinking that if I try one more time, they’ll each see the part they need to fix, see what they are doing to cause the problem, that surely they will say they are sorry, and I can check off that issue and we can all move on. (Can’t you hear the mom telling her little children to kiss and make up?) WHEW! Next issue please! Fix it mom to the rescue again–where is my cape and cool boots? (Yes, I know writers are only supposed to use one exclamation point for every 50,000 words, but this is about our families)!!!
Can’t you just see how blessed my family has been to have to endure this approach from me? In my efforts, it seems that instead of being at odds with one another, they all become at odds with me. Why me? What did I do? I was trying to fix things. (I hear the AMENS echoing through the emails of my family already.) There’s change that needs to occur and it needs to start with me. I am usurping God’s role and acting as the Holy Spirit in their lives, trying to point out what they need to do or not do, where they each made a mistake. EVER THE FIX IT MOM! Now note that I am not critical or judgmental, don’t take sides—I point out what each is doing to hurt the other one (thank the Lord for this one pious point I can cling to), I just want to fix it. Don’t you know the Holy Spirit is appreciative of all the help I’ve given Him over the years? How blessed my family is to have a fix it mom. The amazing love they had for my efforts when they were children has only accelerated as they have moved into adulthood. Bless my heart!
Let’s get honest. In our family, just like in yours, stuff just happens. And if it hasn’t yet, don’t give up. The holidays are coming. Beautiful trees, priceless ornaments, halls of greenery and delicious food aren’t enough. I’m just being transparent here. Misunderstandings come up—from nowhere; out of nothing. Luke 17:1 says “Then said He unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!” Let’s face it, there were divisions between Paul and Silas. There were divisions between the disciples. If we look at Scripture, we see that even Cain and Abel in the first family had divisions. I wonder if Eve struggled with being a fix it mom; apparently, she wasn’t so good at it either. Oh me, and look at Abraham’s grandchildren—they sold their brother Joseph into slavery. There were even divisions between Jesus and His earthly brothers. So what are we to do? It seems hopeless–makes me want to give up and hide in the closet. But maybe that’s not the best approach. Besides, with all the shoes in there that I can’t seem to part with, there’s barely room for me. And my cool Fix It Mom boots and cape are nowhere to be found.
God’s redemptive Jehovah name for our families is the Jehovah Shalom—The Lord our Peace. This is His plan for our homes, our desire for our families—that we live in peace and one accord. It’s the desire Christ has for His family. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Hear the desire that we rise above the offenses that are bound to come and choose love and peace.
My dad used to say that we can expect conflict in our marriages/homes and in our churches because these are the two things Christ established here on earth. So guess where Satan is working overtime to have a victory, to divide and to destroy? You guessed it!
As I’ve mentioned, I work with a 5-week transition program for men leaving recovery and transitioning back into work. When they arrive in class week 1, they don’t love one another at all—in fact, they don’t even pretend to like one another. They’ve lived close, in a barracks situation, for 8-12 months and they can barely tolerate each other. We spend precious class time with interruptions about all their disagreements with each other. So exhausting. Yet at the end of the five weeks, these men would die for one another. They are brothers. They sing and play and laugh and love–and there’s not a decorated tree or pumpkin pie to be found. Now understand that I created the program, for crying out loud. What is it that creates this bond and unity? What did I do right with the program and wrong at home—where it really counts? Can we bottle it and take it home with us? I’ll place my order for a case today, regardless of the cost, and spike our drinks with it—well, maybe a drop or two in the pumpkin pie wouldn’t hurt either–just for good measure.
So come back for Part 2 and let’s see what secret ingredients to unity we might discover from this program and in Part 3, let’s try to come up with some strategies we can use this year with our families to begin to build harmony and unity—to strengthen the bonds of love and peace. And if you, like me, have some redeeming work to do, don’t miss Part 4.