The holidays are here! Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas lights, Christmas music, snow, paid time off, and family time. I love the holidays. If it could be like this every year, I would be pretty happy. But, I will let you in on a little secret, there was a time where the holidays were not the happiest time of year for me.
After my parents split up, I hated the idea of spending the holidays with two different families. My anger towards some family members (anger stemmed from the divorce) seemed to rear its ugly head. I didn’t want to see them, didn’t want to talk with them and didn’t want to spend my most favorite time of year with people who hurt me. As time grew closer and closer to Thanksgiving, the once happy holiday became a time of anger.
I bet there are those of you out there who are reading this and you feel like this is you. Your relationship with someone (whether it is a family member or a friend) is rocky and the holidays are not the time you want to see them. You want to keep the happy holidays happy and not bring in the hurt into the mix.
I want to challenge you to set aside your hurt feelings this year. Try making that effort for the holidays. I know you are probably sitting there thinking, “I make an effort every year and it always ends up being the same horrible holiday”. Guess what, I said the same thing, but we are wrong when we think that way and I will tell you why. If we look deep in our hearts when we make that remark are we truly making an effort? When we make an effort to be kind to someone even when they have wronged us, there shouldn’t be a feeling of resentment or anger at the end of the day. When we make the effort, and I mean TRULY make an effort to be kind, to talk with that individual or group of people, we feel better at the end of the day. Things might not be fixed but when we make an effort, the day (and holiday) feel like it was truly a good and happy holiday.
The first year I tried to “make an effort” with a sour heart, I left feeling like my Thanksgiving was wasted and ruined. I complained to my friends and family that I should have never tried to make an effort and should have never gone in the first place. The second year I tried to “make an effort” I decided to be fake. I put on that fake smile, talked with everyone and left, still feeling like the holiday was a waste of time. The third year, before I even went over to my family’s, I asked God how to make the holiday a happy time of year. I was tired of leaving feeling empty and angry. Do you know what He did. He changed my heart.
It wasn’t the fact that my family had chosen to be rude or ignored me during the holiday. In fact, they tried to make an effort just like I had. My heart was the issue. The bitterness in my heart, towards those who had hurt me, ruined my holidays. That year, I left feeling whole again and happy. Sure, the hurt feelings are still there. Yes, they hurt me deeply. However, when we decide to make a heart change for the holidays, suddenly, the holidays end up being “not so bad”.
As you continue to work towards a better future for yourself and your family through healing, each year will get easier. It will take time and it might take some difficult conversations to move on, but when we make the conscious decision to change our hearts towards those who hurt us, one of the most difficult times of year suddenly becomes one of the easiest times of the year.
So as you go to your Thanksgiving dinners this week, let me challenge all of us (including me) to make that change of heart so that we can make an effort and enjoy the holidays.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!