As we finally slow down from the chaos that can come along with Christmas, New Years and Valentine's Day, we are now getting ready to be smacked in the face with Lent and Easter...and so on. I know these joyous events in our lives can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. Like we need to be perfect at the several family gatherings we are likely to attend, and church programs that come with. But how do we remain focused on the true purpose? How do we not reach our limit with visiting relatives and friends who may not share the same beliefs we do, but continue to bask in the beauty of the celebrations anyway?
I'm honored to share a few tips from the beautiful heart of my friend Anita Makaney, founder of WifeStyle Image Network..
Holiday stress! Whether you are a newlywed, single or married, the stress of the holidays can overwhelm you. Being married takes on a particular type of holiday stress. Dealing with family, in laws and children all at once can be a blessing or a disaster. Even figuring out who will sleep where, what everyone will eat and what traditions to start, continue or completely get rid of can be an added challenge. Incorporating faith into your holiday celebrations can also be interesting for those who are not Christ-minded in your family. You may worry about offending the atheist or stepping on the toes of the agnostic members of your family. Some may be concerned about pushing people away.
How can you be a light?
The Gospel itself is offensive, but it's the Holy Spirit's responsibility to convict sinners of sin, not ours. It's important to remember that you will not win souls with relentless Bible bashing.
The best advice that I can give you is to show love. The two greatest commandments in the Bible are to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second greatest commandment is like it. It is to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:36-40). The Apostle Paul says that by any means necessary he would share the gospel. (I Corinthians 9:19-21) This is the mindset that we need to have because not everyone will want to go to church with you. Not everyone will want to pray before the meal. Singing hymns may not be on someone's to-do list in your family. But you can always show love! Jesus washed the feet of those he sat at the table with for our example(John 13:5-15). What is that humble task that no one wants to do? Yeah, maybe you could do that in Jesus name.
Remember that your actions speak louder than words. Your reactions to circumstances convey who you serve. Saying no to particular activites may surprise people in your family. When you are questioned about it, perhaps that is an open door to share Christ and to give your testimony. Pray for opportunities to share during this season. Often times we did not get the opportunity because we do not ask the Lord for them and we do not look for them! But there are ALWAYS ways and means to give the good news.
"If it be possible, as much as lieth within you,
live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18)
Don't stop praying for your unsaved family members. The key is not in preaching to them 24 /7, but "persevering in love". Your reaction to circumstances is going to overwhelm them. For example, meeting felt needs before we meet spiritual needs is a good way to open doors to share the hope in your heart. It could be hard to hear about Jesus on an empty stomach or when you are in great need. What does your family need? Who can you visit in the hospital ? Do they need a babysitter? Things like this can give you an opportunity to share when otherwise you may not have an earned place to speak into their lives. Others may be straight up hostile to the gospel. Hmmm....sounds like what happened to Jesus. Don't be discouraged. Keep persevering in love. Wash their feet! Love conquers all.
It's great to make wonderful holiday memories, but it's even greater to win your family to Christ. I wish you and yours a blessed holiday season and may the love of Jesus be great in you this year!