Over the hill and through to woods, to Grandmother house we go. It's that time of year when we get together with family and friends. It will so great to see everyone and you're looking forward to good food and fellowship. These are people you love and pray for them to know Jesus. You're determined to be a good witness and let Jesus shine through you.
And then during all the greetings and hugs, you suddenly realize your family is not perfect. This gets together isn't the Hallmark moment you envisioned and your determination to let them see Jesus wavers. You smile and mumble polite responses while you carry on a different conversation with yourself.
" Yes, I have gained weight, thank you for noticing. And yes, I am having seconds, I'll diet when I'm dead."
"No, I'm not seeing anyone and I don't want you to fix me up with your neighbor's kid."
"I haven't done that since I was in high school!"
"Yes, we have heard that story before, about 100 times, but please tell it again"
"No, I don't agree with you option on ____, but I don't want to fight about it"
"Holy Spirit - HELP!!!"
While we truly enjoy being with these folks most of the time, other times can try our patience. A word, phrase or even a look, can trigger old hurts and resentments. The pies get burned or someone forgot to bring the potatoes. Aunt and Uncle had a huge fight on the way over and they create tension everyone can feel. You want to be a good representative of Jesus, but that screaming baby is getting on your last nerve.
These things are not unique to your family. Remember the wedding Jesus went to? They ran out of wine, but Mary couldn't send someone to the store it get it. (One family get together, I think Sharon and I sent the "boys" to the store 5 times.) Everyone was in a panic, the whole wedding would be ruined. So, Mama Mary asked Jesus to do the water into wine thing. So what if it wasn't time for Him to do it. You've heard it before, "You can practice on your friends and family, we don't care if it isn't perfect." Crisis averted, peace and joy reins again. Sometimes in those family situations, we just have to be like Jesus, and do what Mama says.
We want Jesus to be seen through us at these holiday get-togethers. Answering the question of "what's new with you?" can be a powerful witness. Be bold, stay positive and tell what God has been doing in your life. Those conversations may open the door to sharing the gospel with an unsaved loved one. Now is probably not the time to preach it, but if someone is interested, plan a time to call and talk more in-depth later.
But it can be a challenge. These are the people who know how to push our buttons and will do it for fun. They will be looking for your reaction. So here are some tips that help you keep your witness.
- Find a quiet place to spend some alone time with God that morning.
- Ask for and rely on the help of the Holy Spirit Remember, God has placed you in to this family and He doesn't make mistakes.
- Plan some set answers to those annoying questions you are sure to be asked. I found these answers online to the question "Are you married yet?"
- Well, I’d rather be happily single than unhappily married!
- I'm just lucky I guess!
- I'm waiting for your husband to get divorced!
- Marriage can be a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.
- Allow extra time to get ready and travel.
- Make a list and check it so you don't forget anything.
- Do as much as possible the day before so you aren't feeling rushed.
- Don't be afraid to step away from the group and let the Holy Spirit renew your strength.
After you get back home, go over your thoughts and reactions with God. Now is a great time to allow the Holy Spirit to heal old wounds. Was something said that hurt or made you angry? Did you say or react in a way that made someone else hurt or angry? Ask Him to reveal any underlying causes and let Him begin to heal them. That way at the next family get together it will become easier to be that witness you want to be.
I pray that your holiday get-togethers are filled with love and peace. What are some of the things you do to maintain your witness during the holidays? Leave us a tip in the comments.