The Pastor's Wife: Beating the Odds with Family Over the Holidays

I'm driving down the road to see a friend. I love her, her parents and her relationship with her twin brothers. I'm even willing to love her dog, even though I'm allergic, because I just want what she has. I actually just want to have her life instead of mine...or maybe mine with a few adjustments. I love everything about my family, my mom, my brother, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and all of my many cousins. But, if I'm to be honest, I feel disappointed in the dad area.

I think about my dad. He's a good guy, but I haven't really spent enough time with him for us to know each other well... to be close to him like my friend is with her dad. I feel like I'm missing out, and today I'm just plain disappointed in God. When I came to know Him I started praying for the next husband my mom would meet. The last guy cheated on her and was abusive toward me. Surely God knows I need a good dad, but he failed me. I thought her newest marriage was the one, but he's turned out to be a different person than he presented himself to be. 

I'm done hoping. I grip the steering wheel and start to cry. 

I arrive at my friend's house to a group going to raft the Occoee river. I've looked forward to this day, but I'm a wreck right now. I emerge from the car unable to hide my tear-stained eyes. Visibly concerned, my friends gather around, lay hands on me and start to pray. They know my struggles and they care about me. Rafting can wait.

As I close my eyes and lift my hands, I see a field of flowers followed by a rock wall. Beyond the wall is a wooden seated rope swing. I run through the field, clear the wall and plop down on the swing. Feet pumping, I lean to look at the sky and instead I see the face of a man behind me. The man is the Jesus, I imagine. 

He pushes me forward, but when I return to his arms, he stops my momentum, holds the swing in place and whispers in my ear, "I will be your Father. Don't worry. I am all you need." His words fill my heart with mixed emotions. I am coming to grips with the fact that I may never experience the close and tender love of an earthly father, but hope comes with the promise that Jesus will fill that void. I find peace as my friends stop praying. 

In last Sunday's message (Beat the Odds in Parenting), Brad Cooper explained: In the parable of the talents, there are three people who are all given different amounts of talents to invest. He said, "I imagine we are all the person in the middle. Someone will always have more and someone will always have less." 

This is something I've had digest in my life. While I could spend my life wallowing over the fact that I don't remember having a good father figure in my home, I'm also aware that there are people who've had worse experiences in life than me. There are people who've had it better (like my friend I may or may not have envied) and people who've experienced worse. No one has a perfect family. There is no perfect. There is no normal. Every family has its own dysfunction to its own degree.  

This truth is one that has lifted me out of a victim mentality and propelled me to think like a victor. I don't know what kind of family you're headed home to see in the upcoming holidays, but maybe this perspective can help you too! Here are four tips I've used to overcome family time anxiety:

  1. Family time over the holidays may not feel as exciting as it did when you were a kid. Don't psych yourself out..this is normal. Let the Lord be your joy instead: The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3
  2. You don't have to (you can't) fix your family in one, two, days a year. In fact, we cannot fix or change any person. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to change a heart when a person is ready and willing. Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32
  3. Set realistic expectations for your family members' behavior based on their past behavior, not on how you hope they'll behave, how they should behave, or how you would behave. Do not judge, or you too will be judged, for in the same way you judge others, you too will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1.
  4. If you become overwhelmed or anxious, quiet yourself and pray instead of responding in frustration. Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity. Proverbs 21:23

Family time is challenging for so many people over the holidays. If you have someone who could use this blog, please send it their way so they can have some tools to keep their joy and build their faith during Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Praying you will move forward in faith and freedom until next time! - Sharie King

© 2016 by Sharie King.  All rights reserved.