What do we do with the mix of family feelings?
Our Thanksgiving guests just left our driveway, all wrapped up in my prayers for a safe trip home. This year the visit was particularly good, ending with two fiery rounds of Sequence with Grandma-Grandma around the kitchen table amidst large amounts of friendly banter and laughter.
The visits eventually end, however, then what?
As we walk around our home putting things back together, washing sheets, re-making beds, deflating blow-up mattresses and finding stray items left behind, I am reminded to tend to my heart and my people as urgently as I tackle matters in my home.
I like to spend some time in prayer with God to wrap visits up with a bow.
No matter how good the visit, it probably wasn’t perfect. Throw a bunch of people who have relational history together into close quarters and things happen. Feelings are hurt, kids squabble (and sometimes the adults too), the change of routine puts people on edge and the food is never like mom makes it. Even the pets can get weirded out.
Here are some ideas for the first time you curl up with your Bible after the whirlwind ends:
Thank God. Have fun remembering all the good things. Thank God for things like great weather, or a good conversation, or that hug from your kid, or the turkey that turned out. As you get going, the list will lengthen. God’s goodness is always present.
Forgive. Research says the average person experiences seven conflicts each week, usually in their most intimate relationships. Conflict is normal, so don’t become unnecessarily alarmed. Memories of those insensitive words and actions don’t go away on their own, however. Take a few minutes to list them to God: Father, I forgive (name) for (offense) because you forgive me of absolutely everything. (Colossians 3:12, 13) And for the stuff that wasn’t sinful, just annoying, try this: Father, (name) annoys me with his/her (habit). Thank you for the strength you provide to bear with him/her. (Ephesians 4:1)
Confess. Odds are, you weren’t perfect either. Be honest. Ask the Lord to show you places you erred in thought or action: Lord, I confess (agree with) my negative thoughts about (name) when (situation). Thank you for forgiving me.
Hand your loved ones to God. Love your family with your prayers. Let the God of the universe hear the name of each family member, along with your thanks and concerns. Did you see someone struggling in a certain way? You don’t need to tell anyone about it. Just pray. Place the problem in the hands of the only One who can solve it. Hopefully others in the family are praying for what they saw in you!
Invite God into your family line. God created families as a way to fill the earth with people who follow Him. Collectively, all of His children around the world are even called the “family of God.” Strung together, we are to be the lights of the world (Matthew 5:16). Pray for God to bless your family line. Pray for the Holy Spirit to flood your lineage with the power of God so your family becomes a global force for His Kingdom that lives well beyond your years. He promises in Exodus 20:6 to show love “to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep [His] commandments.“
The time we spent with family was a gift from God. None of the people who showed up needed to do so, and none are promised the opportunity to return. God wrapped this year’s visits up with His goodness and mercy, so let’s all thank Him back with a bow of prayer.
Picture Explanation: It’s not always about the meal. It’s about the slow stuff that occurs before and after. Even our dog was groomed this year for the first time ever so he smelled nice for all the extra snuggles he received. Not sure how he felt about the kerchief at first, and not sure how he feels about the empty house today now that everyone is gone.
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