Is excitement growing about the upcoming holidays? I am guessing you are like me, there are thoughts, envisioning the quickly approaching gatherings.
In life often we envision how something is going to go, how it will feel, what we will do. Excitement builds, and it’s in this moment we have created an expectation. Expectations can be met or exceeded and we feel so happy, joyful and thankful. Expectations also can be unmet and leave disappoint, frustration, even sadness lingering. How we handle expectations is a game changer. Previously mentioned we looked at lists we try to accomplish and boundaries needed, the next keys to joy we are exploring are expectations and family dynamics.
We see so many images of these beautiful elaborate holiday meals, homes decorated, smiling families, picturesque everything. In reality these images are not real, they are ALL staged, edited, and the pictures of people….they are not family…they are actors. I noticed subconsciously, these images were what I was making my goal.
(sidenote: while I was writing the word goal, I hit the d, which spelled god instead of goal. This grabbed my attention: I was making these things a god. This was quite eyeopening)
I began to see I had set myself up for expectations that could never be met by trying to live these commercialized images. These unmet expectations have then led to unhappy encounters and sharp words exchanged with my precious children and my husband because I was after something that wasn’t even real. Another HUGE ah ha moment for me was how much I have been trying to control things: make life and people around me look like holiday ads. These expectation struggles could be; the way my kids were dressed, things that I felt had to be done a certain way, thinking I had to do things to be good enough, expecting interactions with other to be as I hoped, also not really ever feeling at peace.
The awesome news is: this doesn’t have be! God doesn’t call us into hurried, rushed, and spotless photo shopped lives. -He sent Jesus- He knows how imperfect we are. We must be very careful to not set ourselves up for failure trying to complete impossible “perfect” settings that don’t exist, yoking ourselves with unnecessary unrealistic expectations.
Expectations can be unmet due deep rooted pain from past interactions, especially when we have not sought healing from God in these places. We must seek God to help us work through these places in our hearts where loved ones have hurt us, forgiving and letting God handle our hurts. Remember God has not missed one single moment of our lives so He knows where we have been hurt and are in need of relationship healing. He stands ready to bring restoration to our hearts, but we must ask Him and open our hearts to this.
Then family dynamics…….while it would be wonderful if everyone is as happy as some of those pictures in ads, the reality is sometimes that’s not the case. This can be one of the hardest parts of holidays. Each one of us wishes we could be with all of our family, and all the relationships would be good. At a gathering we are not only gathering ourselves, but also gathering our joys and pains. Sometimes loss has occurred during the year and the grief is so heavy. Sometimes disagreements have occurred and have never been forgiven, and that elephant under the rug is tripped over year after year. Broken hearts are also brought, so wounded, the pain is felt by everyone, sometimes pain comes from distances or other reasons that keep people apart, but it is there at the gathering nonetheless.
God has so purposefully designed our lives. He has good for us and desires love in the relationships of family members. We need to thank God for each relationship we treasure. Celebrate those who we love & love us.
We are so wise to attend a holiday family gathering having prayed first. First of all we are called to pray for each other, secondly it sets our hearts and minds in a more loving and grace filled posture to gracefully be amongst these family dynamics. God can pour in love, laughter, and joy like no one else. God is the redeemer and restorer, it is who God brings the healing. God can give us such abundant joy in our holidays. We must invite Him to all of our gatherings and into each moment of life!
I encourage you to pray with me, ask God what His plans are. Ask God to make us aware of expectations and pray for his help with those. Pray for help with challenging family dynamics where joy has been lost. Let God bring his love, healing and His way of doing things into your heart. Let’s pray over each family member we will be gathering with by name before the gathering. May our hearts be filled with God’s love as we gather celebrating & thanking God for all His goodness! Thanking God often during the gatherings for the people you love. Pray to live during holiday season filled with a loving heart.
Meditate and pray these beautiful verse from Colossians.
And Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:15-17 NLT
The joy search continues! Moving forward in the abundant goodness of the Lord!
Onward in joy living,