Loving difficult people during the holidays
About 27 years ago, I was a busy mother of three, running my own business, and preparing for the Christmas holidays. There just did not seem to be enough time to get all my shopping done, prepare for holiday travel and work. To complicate things, I was not real thrilled about where we would be spending Christmas because quite frankly, there were just difficult people we were going to be around that particular holiday.
I remembered the last Christmas we went up north, my little girl was 4 years old, all decked out in her Christmas attire with her big red bow. She was absolutely adorable and had such a sweet spirit. One family member, 6’4” tall with tattoos all over his body and long uncombed hair, came up to my little girl and picked her up and in a gruff voice said, “I’m Santa Clause!”
Her froze and her eyes got as big as saucers and she looked at me with horror. I quickly walked across the room and comforted her, as my husband’s relative chucked and walked around the corner, delighted he had scared her.
No, I was not looking forward to the travel and feeling like I had to be on guard all the time…
As I was praying for our upcoming trip, I felt God ask me a question.
“Kathleen, if I asked you to go to the mission field this Christmas would you go?”
“Yes Lord, I would,” I said excitedly.
Then I felt Him say, “Prepare your heart and pray for your trip just like you would if I were sending you on a mission trip to a foreign country.”
“I am sending you to serve and love those you will be around,” I felt Him say.
All of a sudden, I felt humbled and challenged about my trip. My circumstances had not changed, but my perspective had.
“God, give me your heart for these people,” I prayed, just as I would if being sent abroad for a mission trip.
Matthew 1:21 states, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (NIV)
One of the main reasons Jesus was sent to this world was to love the unlovely, the difficult people, also know as, sinners or those who mess up. Really, that is you and me and all of mankind, if you think about it.
Some people are just harder to love than others. We all have them in our lives and I believe they can help us change and become better people as we choose to love and accept the tough job, just like Jesus.
Jesus was sent to the earth with a tough job. He was sent not only to take away our sin but to love us, just as we are. When we receive the gift of Jesus, His love and forgiveness, we are to then give that love and forgiveness to those around us.
I John 4: 11 says, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (NIV)
I love this scripture because when we really grasps that God loves us dearly, we get the new job description of loving those around us and we grow in becoming like Jesus!
II Corinthians 5:20 tells us, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God, God made him who had no sin to be sin for use, so that in him we might become the rightness of God.” (NIV)
As my attitude about the Christmas trip changed, so did my heart. God wanted to use me as his ambassador and I am happy to report, it was a good holiday. I looked for ways to serve those I was around and for opportunities to love them Seeing the trip as a mission trip, made all the difference in the world to me. The fact that God had hand picked me for this assignment gave me a new purpose that Christmas.
Matthew 1:23 says, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” - which means, “God with us.”
Having God with us in all circumstances of life is one of the best gifts ever. I was a Christian for many years before I realized the true benefit of never being alone and drawing on the strength and friendship Jesus provides, especially in challenging times.
God never gives us an assignment without providing what we need. The key is keeping our heart right.
This Christmas, I challenge you to see those difficult relatives, difficult people as your mission field and love them. Show them the real meaning of Christmas and do not forget, God is with you.