As people all over the world are turning their eyes and activities towards Christmas, we often hear the angelic phrase repeated, “Peace on earth and goodwill to men.” But what about experiencing peace within our homes? Isn’t it to be our goal, to have a peaceful home, or at least a peaceful heart, as well? Sometimes you can’t change your spouse to join you in bringing peace into your home, but you can do your part in bringing peace.
We’re told in the Bible:
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.“ (Hebrews 12:14) “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18 ESV) “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.“ (1 Peter 3:10-11)
At the very least, we can do our part. We can reach for peaceful moments, and contribute to making peaceful moments within our homes.
Peaceful Moments Can Lead to a Peaceful Home
So, in the pursuit of peaceful moments this Christmas season, we would like to share with you a few tips that we pray will help:
• “The holidays can be especially stressful. The expectations are high. The demands are unrelenting, and the pressure is ever-building. When there seems to be no way to alleviate the pressure, a change in our outlook is the secret to making the holidays more than just an anxiety-inducing frenzy of greedy kids, visiting family members, and never-ending church activities.” (Keryn Horwood, “5 Secrets to Reducing Holiday Stress” posted on Justbetweenus.org)
We must keep in mind what we are told in the Bible:
• “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“ (Philippians 4:5-7)
Focus on What Matters
• “Many people have unrealistic expectations about the holidays. These expectations are promoted by the media showing extravagant presents underneath the tree being opened by families looking ecstatic about their perfect gifts. What cameras don’t capture are the worried faces of the people wondering how they are going to pay off the debt when they get their credit card bills in the mail.
“It is important to remember what really matters. Do not confuse giving love with giving gifts. Although gifts can be an expression of your love, so is your time. And so is your affection, your words of affirmation, and your willingness to forgive an offense. Decide on a budget and invite someone to hold you accountable for keeping it.” (Deborah Tyrell, from the article “Thoughts for the Holidays” posted on Newlife.com)
• “If you habitually come away from a Christmas family get-together feeling bad, then look at ways that you can make a difference to someone outside your family this Christmas. Our cities and towns abound with lonely people. Find time to reach out to them and offer them something of yourself this Christmas. It may be a small inexpensive gift, a card they wouldn’t otherwise receive, a visit, a meal. By looking outward at the greater world, you won’t get caught up so much in your own family world.” (“Coping with Christmas” by Beth McHugh, posted on Families.com)
The Gift of Kindness
• “Everyone knows the spirit of Christmas is giving. But the best gifts are often ones you can’t wrap in paper. They are gifts of service —where we offer our time, our talents, our connections, our ideas, or our energy to serve those in need around us.
“Let me encourage you to do simple acts of kindness during this season. The end of the year is a hectic time. And everyone can use a helping hand at some point. It might be running an errand, or picking up a package. It could be offering to baby sit, loaning some decorations, making phone calls for your church, or taking a meal to someone who is housebound.” (Rick Warren, from the Justbetweenus.com article, “Purpose Driven Christmas”)
Here’s another great priority to adopt:
• “I’ve declared this Christmas the ‘Christmas of my First Love’ where I will help my family shift our focus from the mall to the manger. The manger is quiet and less crowded. It’s a place where children are always welcome. Spending time here will help our family to keep our eyes and hearts fully focused on Jesus.” (“From the Mall to the Manger: Returning Faith to the Forefront of Christmas” by Jim Burns and Leslie Snyder, posted on Homeword.com)
A Peaceful Home of Fellowship
• “This year, when you’re planning your gathering of family and friends, I urge you to set aside a ‘fellowship’ time. This is a time when everyone can sit in a circle and take turns really listening to one another. Ask these questions: ‘What were you most thankful for this past year? What have you learned from the past year? How would you like to grow next year?’ If you take the time for authentic fellowship with your family and friends, I guarantee that everyone will remember it far longer than if you merely socialize with them.” (Rick Warren)
• “You do not have to go to a party just because you were invited to it. Be a good steward of your time and energy. Even Jesus, the Son of God knew He had to retreat from the clamor of the crowds for quiet times with His Father to renew His strength. Pace yourself and find the balance between togetherness and separateness.” (Deborah Tyrell, “Thoughts for the Holidays” posted on Newlife.com)
Acceptance Can Lead to a Peaceful Home
• “Accepting others as they are can be the biggest gift you give yourself. Holidays can be stressful because we’re often with people who are difficult to be around. You don’t have to approve or like what your family members do. But you do need to show love and grace to them.
“Dr Minirth, a noted Christian psychiatrist, warns that this is also not the time to try to fix your family. You can have a personal goal of showing love and peace to a difficult family member, however. There are 364 other days of the year to address other problems.” (Keryn Horwood, “5 Secrets of Reducing Holiday Stress” posted on Justbetweenus.org)
Jesus told us:
• “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:32-35) “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
Sometimes Overlooking Offenses Can Bring a Peaceful Home
• “Deal with criticism wisely. Before you react, consider the source. …Some people make comments to be hurtful. Or they make themselves feel better about their shortcomings. They may also be unaware of how they present themselves. I tell my clients these people cannot be avoided. So be ready with an invisible Teflon shield. We can defend ourselves by not absorbing the comment, and simply letting it go.” (Keryn Horwood, “5 Secrets to Reducing Holiday Stress” posted on Justbetweenus.org)
Additionally, remember that we’re told in the Bible:
• “Better a patient man than a warrior; a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.“ (Proverbs 16:32) “A man’s wisdom gives him patience. It is to his glory to overlook an offense.“ (Proverbs 19:11) “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.“ (Proverbs 17:28)
We’d like to share with you some final thoughts that we pray will help you in your marriage, in your home, and wherever you are this Christmas season. We realize that some of you will be with a lot of people. Some of you will be lonely (even in your marriage). And some of you will be going through some very painful times. Yours is not a peaceful home at this time. For those of you who find yourselves in these situations, we grieve with you and pray God will make Himself very real to you.
We’d like to close with something written by Deborah Tyrell, from the article “Thoughts for the Holidays” posted on Newlife.com, which expresses our hearts also:
“It helps to remember that all of us are part of broken humanity in need of God’s redemptive love. And sorrow is part of living, even in the midst of the season to be jolly. My [our] prayer for those who struggle during this holiday season with loneliness or sorrow, is that you will find God’s peace, comfort and hope in the midst of your pain. And that as you press into the presence of God, the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and the Christ Child will be birthed in your heart revealing to the world His unfailing love and faithfulness.”
Our Prayer for You As You Strive to Make Yours a Peaceful Home:
“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ to whom be the glory for ever and ever.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)
Cindy and Steve Wright
Please Note: If you are living within an abusive marriage, please know that our hearts go out to you. We realize that you are not the only one who can make yours a peaceful home. To better help you in this situation, please visit the Abuse in Marriage topic within this web site. We pray it will help.
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