Jonathan's Perspective  

Dec 18

'Restoring Relationships this Christmas'

'Restoring Relationships this Christmas'

So much of Christmas revolves around family. There are the family parties, dinners, activities, pictures, and church. For some it may be caroling together or traveling long distances to be with relatives. Unfortunately, Christmas doesn’t always have a happy face. There may be time with estranged siblings, difficult in-laws, divorced parents, or the relative that loves to tweak you about your political views or even faith. 

John the Baptist was given a mission from God which included helping us through the Christmas family meals. Part of his job was “to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children.” (Lk 1:17) The broad message is that God wants to restore our broken, estranged relationships around the big dinner table. God can turn hurt, angry and bitter feelings to love, joy and peace. God has given us the power of forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus. God can lead you to a much better future if you trust him. Remember, it takes intentionality to allow God to change you for the good. 

First, ask God to help you focus on one relationship that He wants you to renew. I’m sure you could easily think of a few, but one is complicated enough. Think of all the good, valuable and admirable qualities of that person. This is a very important step that cannot be glossed over. If you are stuck on the negative, you cannot build a positive future. Ask God to help you see that person through His eyes. 

Second, begin to pray about that relationship. Ask God how you contributed to its breakdown or how you didn’t take an earlier opportunity to mend it. You cannot expect the other person to take responsibility if you are not self-aware and humble enough to accept your own. 

Third, cool down the hot buttons. Those hot buttons are ingrained in you. It can be the littlest words, mannerisms or look that set you off. I know, because I have those, too. Think about what it is that causes the involuntary angry, frustrated, bitter or hurt feelings. Know that it is coming and ask God how you could respond differently. If you don’t know what that button is, you will not be able to stop it from being pushed. It may be helpful to talk with a trusted friend or family member to help you prepare your response. What response would help diffuse the situation? What kind of response could show grace, acceptance or understanding? The other person will be thrown off their game and your change will change the whole dynamic. Stick with it.

Finally, pray; pray that God will change your thinking about that person and change your heart so you can be the initiator of a mended relationship. While changing a strained relationship is not easy, remember that God is committed to bringing new life – even more than you are. 

Embody John’s mission to turn the heart of your relative toward you. 

May your Christmas dinner be filled with faith, hope, love, and joy.

Blessings,

Jonathan

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