Christmas is a high-risk holiday.
Many times I have had my expectations really high only to be disappointed by others. There have been more than a few Decembers I have drove hundreds of miles through inclement weather asking myself questions like,
“Why am I doing this?”
Let me explain. I could have a really fun Christmas without driving home to Michigan. I could just spend it with Deb while we watch our kids open presents under the tree. No hotel bills, no driving through Chicago in a snowstorm and no drama.
“Is this worth it?”
To answer my own question, Yes, Christmas is worth it and here is why.
Christians say that Christmas is all about Christ, but that there is another side to the story.
From God’s prospective Christmas is all about you and me. It’s the miracle of ‘God with us’.
“The virgin will conceive a child. She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God with us.”
Notice that the scripture says, “God with us”, not God with me.
I think if we are honest we will admit that we all have dysfunction in our families. There are family members that we spend Christmas with that annoy us. Maybe it’s the passive aggressive aunt or the loud drunk uncle.
For me it was my Mom.
My Mom battled with mental illness her whole life. She was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic when I was five years old. Most of the time she was normal but every Christmas it seemed there was one point when she would lose control. When she lost control it was scary. Even as an adult I was afraid of my Mom.
I had to change my thinking about Christmas to begin to enjoy it. I’m not coming home for myself. I’m coming for my brother who isn’t married and doesn’t have any kids. I’m coming home for my Mom who just wants her four boys to be with her for Christmas
One of the great things about Christmas is it gives me the opportunity to forgive and that is something that Christ wants me to do.
A few days ago I was reading the words of Christ from the gospel of Matthew.
“Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
He not only wants us to forgive our brothers and sisters. He was us to forgive our mothers and our fathers.
As I thought about the words of the Lord I asked him, “Why is forgiveness such a big deal to you?”
Think about it. This is the only sin he talks about in this way. Jesus doesn’t say this about lying, adultery or murder.
Why is it so important to Christ that we forgive one another?
When you refuse to forgive you are saying there is not enough power in the work of the Cross to pay for the sins of others. It’s dishonoring to Christ.
The truth is Jesus didn’t just die for my sins he died for those that sinned against me. He did all the hard work. I just need to go with the flow, the flow of forgiveness.
One day I was praying for my Mom.
The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “She’s one of the fatherless”.
For the first time in my life I saw my Mom from Father God’s perspective. I saw a little girl in pigtails whose daddy died when she was 12 years old. Suddenly all of my anger and un-forgiveness disappeared. It was supernatural.
After that day I understood my Mom and what she wanted. She was like a little kid. There were two days that were really important. Christmas and her birthday. My Mom didn’t really need anything. She just liked to open presents and watch everybody else open presents. My Mom lived for Christmas. It was a big deal for her.
After this experience I starting coming home for my Mom’s birthday and for Christmas.
Did my Mom change? Not really, but my attitude change really helped our relationship. It was good for me when I forgave my Mom and I started to enjoy Christmas a lot more.
When you think about that annoying family member you don’t like being around at ask yourself, ‘What do they want?” and try to give it to them. Try to see things from their point of view. I’m not saying this is easy to do. If it’s hard then ask the Holy Spirit to help you. That’s why He’s here. He is our helper. The Holy Spirit will help you just like he helped me.
When you give the gift of forgiveness it’s a gift to yourself, to others, but most importantly it’s a gift to Christ.
It’s what He wants for Christmas.
Father God wants to be with us and that only happens if we forgive each other.
Not only has Mark served in the local church as pastor, associate pastor, and family ministry pastor but he is also a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team.