I have had many familial issues over the years. But never so many as trying to get along with some of them. Last year was the worst.
You see, I am a planner. Especially about Christmas. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! It is the only season where everyone is encouraged to be just a little bit more generous. And smile at strangers, just because. And you get to have snowball fights and make snow angels with your kids. Have I mentioned I LOVE CHRISTMAS?
Anyways, I digress. Growing up, our house was the house that everyone was welcome. Family, friend, co-worker or neighbour - it made no difference. You were welcome. There was no invitation necessary. And I loved that. And I long for my house to be the same. It absolutely breaks my heart to think of anyone I know sitting home alone at Christmas.
Last year, I unknowingly stepped on toes when I invited family and friends over for Christmas dinner. It seems that since my aforementioned family members had bought a new house, my Christmas plans should never have been made. And somehow I was the evil person who was ruining Christmas because I had invited people over (including them). This was just the straw that broke the camels back, after 7 long years of difficult situations.
I learned last year that my husband is amazing. And loving. And understanding. And supportive. And I in turn, will do everything possible to stop putting him in the middle.
After a talk one morning with my pastor, he assured me that the person in question has many issues that are all her own. And somehow, God has assigned me to be the one person to make a difference in her life. Actually, he said that since everyone else just said that her behaviour was just the way she functioned and I was the only one willing to stand up for myself, I was the one who unknowingly accepted the challenge of showing her God's unconditional love. Let me tell you, I was NOT happy to accept that assignment. I am pretty sure my words after that were something along the lines of thanking all of those before me for creating a monster, and then leaving me to pick up the pieces.
And I had to come to another conclusion. I had done nothing wrong. I am an honest, loving, caring person. I am a work in progress. But since all of these wrongs were the result of an overactive imagination and years of anger issues, I could apologize for hurting her feelings without realizing it. And I could pray. A lot.
I could pray that she would once again find God. That she would place her worth in Him, and his love, rather than worldly things. That she would find real friends that could lift her up, rather than help her wallow in pity. I said a lot of prayers. And I had no choice but to leave it to God. I had 7 years of proof that I could not change her. I had failed.
But I hadn't really failed. I had turned my cheek many times (it sure felt like 70 x 7!). I had tried as much as I could to be the bigger person. And when I knew that I was at the end of my rope, I turned it all over to God. I can't change anyone. I can help them, if they want. But I can love them. I can become a safe place, and a shoulder if she wants to use it. And I can let us both be softened by God's great love. And grace. Thank God for His grace!
I know that many of you are facing challenges so much greater than this, and I don't want to belittle your experiences. I would be honored to lift you up to God in prayer. This is just one small example of how he will turn any experience for our good, if we just let him. Leave me any prayer requests in the comments, and I would love to pray for you.