Good Morning! It's Christmas time! Words, words, and more words rushing here and there. They swirl through the sound waves both assaulting and healing our senses relentlessly. Articles sharing how to survive the holiday busy by implementing preparation and organizational strategies abound. Precious little is left to be said on that particular subject. However, not very much has been said about the implementing of similar strategies, techniques, and tips for our use of words.
Families are marvelous. Families are wonderful. God began the human race with a family. He sent His Son into a family. Families are His idea. Families can also be very very messy and stressful. Holidays with family can become the epic love/hate situation. The whole love being together yet hate it all at the same time feeling opens the door to guilt for many people. Childhood insecurities frequently lurk behind the doors of painful memories where they seem to giggle with wicked glee at every opportunity to slash their next victim with the knife of unkind remembrance. An older brother suddenly remembers what a brat his little sister used to be, the youngest in the family unexpectedly recalls the tormenting trauma older siblings rained down, and somewhere a middle children simmers in a stew of resentment over the mess the whole stinking lot of them are.
These descriptions aren't specifically from my personal life. They do, however, have the potential to manifest in everyone's life in some way. For some these familial conflicts may explode with a loud volcano of verbal lava poisoning an entire gathering. Other families will appear to be perfectly calm on the surface while various members bleed inside from unknown wounds. Still others will have that one random individual who consistently sees themself as a victim no matter how much they are protected and loved by the family. The mess can manifest in a multitude of ways.
What if there was a way to stop the mess, or at least minimize it, in its tracks? What if such a miracle was as easy as planning conversations and our choice of words ahead of time before gathering together? Would such a simple plan be a miraculous cure? For many, yes, putting out the fire before it starts would be a healing miracle indeed. Let's consider some ways preparing our words ahead of time can help reduce holiday stress.
Pre-planning, being organized, holiday preparations can be more than buying gifts, wrapping, and baking. It can also include pre-determined communication strategies, kindness techniques, and last minute fight the snark tips. Responding to others the way they do us is easy; most everyone does it. Planning how to be kind, no matter what others do or say, ahead of time requires a conscious determined decision. How does a person do this? Where does one begin?
Where does one begin? For me, personally, planning my words ahead begins at the place decisions are made, in God's presence and His Word. What does God have for me to say and do this holiday season? How does He see each person that is gathered together in our family? God Holy Spirit has been teaching me to ask myself questions and then choose what I will do and say based on the answers to those questions. One such question I have learned to ask myself is: What sort of wife, mother, daughter, sister do I want to be? What sort of wife, mother, daughter, sister has God made me to be? After contemplating and coming to an answer, I then ask myself what that sort of wife, mother, daughter, sister does? How does she speak to those she loves? How does she listen? How does she love like Jesus loves? Then, the big question: Am I living and speaking like the woman I want to be? Am I being the woman God has made me to be?
After assessing whether or not I am being true to the woman God made me to be by asking and answering these questions I am then able to make conscious determined decisions concerning what sort of tone, attitude, and words I will or will not speak. A God-inside woman isn't afraid of being rejected because she is held close to and filled with the One who will never leave or forsake her. A God-inside woman isn't nervous about what others will think of her housekeeping or cooking because if God be for her who can be against her? A God-inside minded woman isn't worried about whether she is enough or not enough because He who is in her is more than enough. A God-inside minded woman is filled to overflowing with God's love for everyone who enters her home because she knows that He who is in her longs to save, heal, deliver, set free, love, encourage, and show mercy to all. Therefore, she longs for God to do so through her. These are the truths I speak to myself so that I am reminded of who I am in He who is in me. I prepare myself from the inside out.
As I learn to do this more and more I realize that the more fully I prepare myself in Christ, the less all of the exterior details matter. It's a guaranteed stress evaporator to live with a consciousness of God inside. The potatoes aren't done on time? No sweat. God has everything under control. No sense getting sweaty armpits over spuds. That's silly. Very few details are as important as I think they are. Me remaining in Christ matters much more than any natural circumstance. This same preparation can be used before going out of my home and about town. Before I enter the shopping scene, I can determine what sort of customer and shopper I will be. What does Jesus inside of a woman shopping look and sound like? What sort of words, facial expressions, and emotions does she or does she not share with the world around her?
Checkout clerks who appear war torn need me to look and sound like Jesus. What are Jesus' words to a tired, worn, and harried clerk in the checkout line? What healing balm does Jesus plan for me to extend? What does that grouchy service tech look like to Christ? Will God's patience coming out through me be a soothing salve? Did that snarky salesperson single me alone out of all the many customers to snarl at? Not likely. Therefore, I will make a determined decision before I leave my home to listen to God Holy Spirit and respond with God's love and grace to everyone I meet this day. I will guard the gates of my lips and extend a smile of God's healing grace. Perhaps a genuine smile in a season full of haste and hurry is the greatest gift the people I meet will receive. Is there anything I am looking for or purchasing in the stores of more importance than the people? No. Nothing. I don't know of anything more important to God than the people He has created. Those I come in contact with are of infinite value to Him, and so am I.
Preparing myself from the inside out before the seasonal gatherings, as a well-known homemaker says, "It's a good thing."
Praying showers of God's love and blessings in and through you this day,