Friday, December 22, 2023

It’s Too Peopley In Here!

Friday, December 22, 2023

It’s Too Peopley In Here! 

It’s Christmas week and that means family gatherings (for some). Family can be a hard thing. People have stuff – we all do, even if we think we don’t. Getting together once or twice a year with people you may not like that you share DNA with (or a last name) can be a very tense time – for everyone. 

There is a popular meme for introverts out there right now – “It’s too people out there.” It can be exhausting for those who are not fueled by crowds and chaos to be out and about for too long in the midst of people. But at Christmas and other times we gather with family it can get too peopley inside really fast. 


As a little girl I often dreamed of the family I wanted but did not have. I was loved but our family was not The Cleavers. I wondered what it would be like to have a home like that – complete with the white picket fence. It wasn’t just about the house; it was about the family. My family was a broken family with lots of issues and dysfunction, but not too different than what most families deal with. I became very proficient at being a codependent. I am the best at “not rocking the boat,” and if they let me, I can rally everyone else to do the same. Keep the peace at all costs. I have learned that what that does is that it sucks the peace right out of you. How very human of me – or any of us – to think we can bring or control peace on earth – especially in our homes where we are the most “human.” 


Growing up I continued my role as chief of “We are all just going to keep our mouths shut and get along.” That’s mom code for “Don’t Rock the Boat.” I just couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t feel the same way as me, after all it is just not worth it to engage in some conversations, with some people, no matter how much we disagree or how irritated we are. No one wins that one. I thought not rocking the boat was very important and I wanted everyone else to feel the same way. The great revelation to a codependent is that you can’t control anyone else. Surprise! You can be in the middle of the battle, but you cannot stop the bullets as hard as you may try. 


As mothers, we want so many things for our families. We want peace and we want magical moments. We want love and warmth. We want perfect families, but we are all flawed – every single one of us. When we try so hard for so long to hold it all together – to hold everyone together, in the end it falls apart anyway and slips right through our fingers. I am learning and realizing my hands don’t belong in it, so I hand it over to the all sufficient nail scarred hands of my Savior. Sometimes I don’t take my hands off of it as quickly as I need to and sometimes I even pick it back up as we all do. We all know He is the Prince of Peace but sometimes we don’t fully grasp that until we have tried to keep the peace in our own power. 


God loves every broken piece of every broken family. It can begin to feel hopeless or like He has abandoned us but He never does. He walks with us every step of the way and stands with us in the middle of every battle. As I remind myself that I cannot control others, God continues to remind me that I can control myself. He expects us to follow the example He gave us while He was here on earth. 


These words from Paul give us a simple three step process for living our lives in community with others:


 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:17-18


People have stuff. Families have stuff. Everyone has stuff. We are responsible for our own behavior(stuff) and no one else’s. We can choose peace, and our own behavior does depend on us. Doing what is honorable in everyone’s eyes, especially God’s eyes, is a big deal. Christians who do not act like Christians around family or others, do the kingdom of God and the body of Christ a great disservice. We let hurt, bitterness and resentfulness drive our actions. Family gatherings like Christmas provide the right environment for others to see the mercy, grace, and love of our Savior flowing through our words and actions. This Christmas it will be too peopley and with some people you may not like, but I challenge you to remember our Lord’s examples of how He lived His life, was a friend of sinners, and loved everyone. He didn’t agree with everyone and didn’t like everyone, but He showed the love of God for everyone, and sacrificed His life for everyone.


One more thing – I heard a counselor say this and it has stuck with me – Love that does not speak the truth is not love. Truth that is not spoken in love is not truth. Remember that along with this – It does depend on you. Check your heart at the door and make sure your words and actions glorify God. When we pass on the amazing grace and love we are given by our Savior to others – especially the unlovable – the world knows we belong to Him.


 Merry Christmas! 


A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35


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