Getting that special bike or doll might have been the highlight of your Christmas when you were a kid, but the gift of a reconciled or mended relationship can be one of the best gifts ever as an adult.
Christmas is the perfect time for people to spread love, joy, and cheer to everyone they meet. But for others, the stress can bring out the worst in people. The extra traffic, the overstretched budgets, and the emotional stress can take its toll on people, causing anxiety and undue stress, resulting in people being less than kind and loving to each other.
Jesus came to earth as a baby, so he could understand fully what it was like to be human. He stripped himself of his heavenly power so he could become like one of us. No one understands rejection, hatred, and persecution better than Jesus. Because Christmas is associated with Christ, it can also cause unbelievers to become more vengeful toward believers. As Christians, however, we can be the light to this broken world. When others are stressed, we can demonstrate the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Here are five ways to establish peace and goodwill toward men:
1. Use Social Media Appropriately
When social media platforms like Facebook and Myspace first came on the scene, their ultimate goal was for people to reconnect and see what was going on in each other's lives. But it has morphed into a platform where anonymous opinions can be given anywhere, and disagreements and strife result. One way to establish peace within your own heart is to use social media for what it was intended for: highlights of your life. While it's okay to share struggles, posting about arguments in your marriage or your financial woes may cause you to seek the love and affirmation from others through likes and comments rather than go to Jesus with your needs. Make a vow to use social media only to post positive memes in words. Simply turning on our televisions will quickly demonstrate what a mean and cold-hearted world we live in. We can be a light to others by using social media not to air our public opinions but rather to encourage our friends and family with all that God is doing in our lives.
Now, this doesn't mean we are called to fake our way through posts, and we must beware of comparison that all too easily creeps into our hearts as we see other people's highlight reels. Resolve before God to log onto social media with the sole goal of sharing encouragement.
2. Write Words of Encouragement
When sending Christmas cards this year, why not take the time to write one note of encouragement to one person a day for the next 31 days? You can write notes of encouragement to your family members, friends, or church members. Pray and ask the Lord to give you wisdom as to what to write to each person and to whom to write. Your note might be the encouragement someone needs to keep going during a tough season and lift their spirits when they're going through tough circumstances. Everyone needs a bit of encouragement in their lives. Be the person to establish goodwill by writing a note specific to them, letting them know they are seen, loved, and appreciated.
3. Pay It Forward
One of the issues plaguing many people this holiday season is finances. With skyrocketing prices and looming inflation, people feel stretched more now than ever. Many paychecks are simply not covering the cost of living today. This, paired with having to buy gifts for people, can make the holiday season extra stressful. Although you may not be able to help someone in a big way financially, you can perform small acts of kindness throughout the day. Hold the door open for someone. Make eye contact and smile at someone. Pay for the person’s food order standing behind you or whose car is behind you in the drive-thru.
These small acts can add up to big acts of kindness in someone's life. If you were financially blessed, you can go even bigger and pay off someone's layaway or Christmas order who's standing in line next to you at your local store. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is true. The happiness you'll feel from helping someone in need will trump any Christmas present you receive on December 25th. When we, as Christians, believe that Christ provides for our needs, there is no need for us to be consumed with worry over a possible lack of provision. We cannot outgive God. Therefore, go big this holiday season and help establish peace in someone else's life by giving them the financial boost they so desperately need.
4. Cast Your Cares to the Lord
The best way to establish peace in people's lives is to be peaceful ourselves. But even the most devout Christian can feel feelings of anxiety and panic when it comes to the tough circumstances surrounding them. The best (and cheapest) form of therapy is prayer. We often pray brief, expected prayers about people's health or other needs. While these things are important to pray for, the best prayers come from the heart. Pour your heart out to God and let him know all that you're feeling. Knowing that Christ carries your burdens for you is encouragement enough to keep going even when the Christmas season gets unexpectedly tough. When we feel at peace, we are more likely to help others feel at peace. Release your burdens onto God; he knows them all anyway!
5. Reconcile When Necessary
As a kid, we dreamed about the perfect gift we wanted for Christmas. Sometimes we received it; sometimes, we didn't. And as we've matured, we understand that Christmas is not about gifts. It's about the family God has blessed us with and the relationships we invest in to promote mutual intimacy and connection. But during the holiday season, we may be reminded of those relationships that need mending. Romans 12:18 says, “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
While reconciliation is not always possible in every situation, we can do what we can to make peace with our enemies. If the person is a fellow believer, you may more than likely be able to make amends. Make that phone call, write that e-mail, send that text. Do what you can to mend fences during the holidays. If reconciliation is not possible because the person has passed on or is unwilling to reconcile, do what you can to forgive them and move on. Ask God to help you forgive even when you don't feel like it. Getting that special bike or doll might have been the highlight of your Christmas when you were a kid, but the gift of a reconciled or mended relationship can be one of the best gifts ever as an adult. Not only does it glorify God when we reconcile with each other, but we also receive intimacy and connection through the healthy human relationships God desires for us.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Peace and goodwill are possible for those who believe. It is our obligation as Christians to promote that belief and be the agents of hope, redemption, and reconciliation. There is no better time to demonstrate that than the Christmas season. Go the extra mile and do what you can to make someone else's holiday season a little bit brighter.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Allanswart
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.