3 words come to mind when I think about going home for the holidays:
For many of us, we get excited about the holidays and about spending time with loved ones, but may have apprehension about the conflict or tension that often naturally arises when you gather half a dozen or a dozen adults together that live very different day to day lives.
Many of us have ourselves or have seen other people shy away from spending time with loved ones because of deep seated conflict, relational tension, or disagreements that have been allowed to fester in our hearts, contributing to roots of bitterness towards our loved ones.
I've been praying for breakthrough in a handful of familial relationships in my life for a few months now, but have recently struggled with the question of: What does it look like to hope for change, breakthrough, restoration, and reconciliation in these relationships? When I think about trying to dig into these issues, I almost automatically shy away, believing that this is just the way it's “meant” to be. It's as if the promise that the Lord gives Habakkuk in chapter 1 -
“For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.”
- is not a good enough promise to be true in my life. It's as if I’m telling the Lord that He is not trustworthy to bring breakthrough in the area of familial reconciliation.
In discipleship last month, we were digging into Romans 4:13-25 which is a passage about Abraham’s faith when it comes to the Lord’s promise to give him and Sarah a child. Verse 18 says:
“Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping.”
Abraham was nearly 100 years old, well past the “be fruitful and multiply” years, yet he kept hoping because
“he was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises.”
Abraham clung to God’s promise, knowing that God is the God who creates new things out of nothing. Our God is a God who breathes hope into hopeless situations.
So, my perspective is shifting in this season from being one of hopelessness, believing that the familial relationships in my life were too far gone, to a place of declaring hope, especially when there is no reason for hope. My prayer has become, "Lord would you give me a glimpse of heavenly hope and bring Heaven to earth through reconciliation of familial relationships?"
Go into the holiday season with proclamation of the Lord’s promises over your life and over your family. As the Bryan and Kate Torwalt song says, “Our Champion, You fight for us. You made a way, where there was none…We will shout it out, from the mountain tops, that our God is good, He has overcome.”
How can we practically engage with those relationships in our families that seem to be too far gone?
Last week in the discipleship school, Ted (our discipleship school director) challenged us to be thermostats during the holidays instead of thermometers. You see, thermometers rise and fall in temperature based on their atmosphere. Thermometers are driven by their circumstances. On the other hand, thermostats set the atmosphere. Thermostats drive the environment instead of being driven by the environment. When conversations turn towards conflict or situations are filled with tension, stop and call out the gold in someone. It can be as simple as saying, "hey I just want to let you know that I really appreciate your smile and value the way that you served us at dinner last night."
Try it out. You may be surprised how powerful it can be to be a thermostat, one who shifts the atmosphere, instead of being a thermometer, one who allows themselves to be shifted by the atmosphere. Let's believe together this holiday season for breakthrough in our families and pray for Heaven to come to earth in our familial relationships.
About the Author: Christiana thrives on saying "yes" to new adventures, connecting with people on a deep relational level, and eating Saturday morning brunch. She works locally as a Physical Therapist and also serves at Antioch Ann Arbor as the Production Director. Christiana is passionate about partnering with individuals to prepare, equip and mobilize them to operate best in who God has made them to be and accomplish the purpose that the Lord has set upon their life.