Have you ever played the word association game? Lets try~I say chocolate, saliva develops as you sternly bark....'get me some!' Or, I say 'fruitcake' and you say, 'that wouldn't even make my dog drool. Move on.' How about if I say, “family holiday gathering?” Be honest. Do you start perspiring even though it's 65 degrees? Your eyes start to glaze over as you painfully realize Christmas is just around the corner. You are about to spend hours with people who don't really like you. In fact, the family tree may be the only reason they gather with you at all.
This time of year we ponder Jesus as light of the world. But, Matthew 5 states that we, Jesus' followers, are the light of the world. Is it possible to be the 'light of the world' spending time with family members? Yesterday while I was shopping, I gave the lady behind me in line 2 of my extra coupons. You would have thought I had given her a $20 bill. She was elated. That was easy. Why is it easier to be a light for Christ with a stranger? What happens to that thoughtful spirit in me when I get around my relatives? What is there about us that can be so stubborn about demanding our way when we are with family? Do I demand more from my relatives? Am I a poor communicator? Do my actions corroborate my words or discredit me?
Recently I had to answer these questions when I received a email from a family member that left me shaking. Angry. Hurt. Angry. Disgruntled. Angry. Hopeless. Did I mention angry? It, however, was not a righteous anger. I had to ask myself why the letter caused so much anger within me. Perhaps it was because some of the things in the email were painfully true. Initially, I chose denial fervently building a case for myself of all the things in the letter that were not true. Not a good plan. Fortunately, after much prayer and seeking counsel, I snapped out of denial mode.