Yesterday was Christmas. Honestly, I cannot remember a worse Christmas since my childhood. Now, I know that yesterday was not about me, but I was definitely in a mood. Sorry to say that I was extremely selfish. My husband had to work, so my two youngest and I went to church. We had a wonderful service. During the invitation, I asked my daughter to go to the alter and pray over me. She is an amazing young lady and I’m so honored to be her mom. She’s such a smart girl. She knows that I’ve been struggling with a myriad of things. She asked God to help me with those struggles.
I often think that I’d like to take my husband, kids and myself and put us in this little bubble where nobody from the outside can affect us. In reality, I know that we need to touch others. If others cannot affect us, we cannot affect them and God’s purpose for saving us is that we serve Him and love others. If we were in my bubble, there’s no way we could do that. Instead, we have to let others in and that means, I need to learn how to handle the way they affect me and the ones I love.
Back to yesterday, after service, we came home and my oldest son was here waiting. Now, he hasn’t contacted us with the exception of one phone call, since he left on Halloween and went to live with his mother. During that phone call, we made plans to have him spend Christmas Eve with us. I had planned our usual traditions and was really looking forward to it. When I texted him to make sure he was still coming, he told me he made other plans with his mother’s ex-boyfriend’s new wife’s parents. Trust me, I know how strange that sounds. He said that they were supposed to spend Christmas day together (at least that’s what he said when I asked him to spend the day with us, which is why we decided we’d take Christmas Eve). Apparently, they changed the plans and instead of telling them that he had already made plans with us, he cancelled our plans. We had already made plans for Christmas day, but when we came home from church, he was here. Of course, I was still angry that he missed our Christmas Eve festivities and was not very happy to see him. I actually expected an apology from him and instead, he told me that he didn’t think he did anything wrong. I’m not proud of my reaction to that, I told him to leave. If I would have been the bigger person and just accepted the fact that he was there now, we could have enjoy spending the day together. This is where feelings get involved. I was angry and hurt and he was not sorry, that is what caused me to make the decision to not do the right thing. And this is with my son, someone who I love dearly, with all my heart. Can you imagine what it would be like with someone who’s just an acquaintance?
God commands us to love everyone, right? That includes acquaintances, strangers, friends and family. If it was hard for me to be the bigger person and do the right thing with my son, how hard would it be if it were someone that was not that big a part of my life? Funny thing is, it wasn’t much different.
What do you do when someone you believed was a friend, starts talking about you behind your back? I’ll tell you what I did. I first spent time trying to figure out what I had done to this person to make them so angry. I mean, they must be angry to treat me the way they have been, right? Look, I’ve been mean to people before. A prime example is the story I just told you about my son. I was mean because of how I was feeling, not that it’s an excuse or anything. I just can’t recall a time where I’ve mistreated someone for no reason. So, there must be a reason that this person is treating me the way they are. Snide comments, cryptic Facebook posts and saying negative things to mutual friends are just a few of the things that they are doing. How do I know the posts are about me? Well, they are usually made as a result of something I have commented or posted and/or it coincides with something they had already said to mutual friends. I am not ‘holier than thou’ enough to think I’m that important to this person that they would focus so much energy on me, however, the abundance of times my name leaves their lips tells me differently. Fortunately, our mutual friends are concerned enough to give me advice on how to handle the situation; handle it the Christian way. I need to go to this person and see if we can work it out. I know that this is what I’m supposed to do, but it’s so hard when you’re this hurt, angry and confused.
Again, Christmas Day 2016 started badly and ended up worse. How should you feel when you give a gift to someone and they say they hate it and will never use it? This one, I was actually able to do the right thing. I was hurt and angry, yet I ignored it and managed to make the best out of the rest of the evening. The rest of doing the right thing, is to let this person know how much they hurt me and forgive them. Is it okay to forgive without letting the person know what they did? My husband says no, he says that you have to let them know, it’s important.
So why is it so hard for me to do the right thing? Am I any better than these three people who hurt me? Obviously not. According to God, there is no hierarchy to sin. Sin is sin, one is no greater or worse than another. Man is the one that puts different levels of severity on sin. Man is the one that has to deal with feelings of anger, hurt, fear and hatred. We are the ones that have to realize that it is not how others make you feel, but how you react to those feelings that is important.
Ironically, in the midst of writing this, I received a Facebook message from a true friend. This message shared the following story and it really hit home, especially Rule # 5, I don’t want to expect less from people. I want to believe that people are good, however, I do want to expect more of myself. I want to be a better person:
One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.
Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred – Forgive.
2. Free your mind from worries – Most never happens.
3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less from people but more from yourself
Friends and readers, I am asking for your prayers. Please pray that God gives me the wisdom to know the right thing to do, that He gives me the guidance to do those right things and that He strengthens me to do those right things in all of these situations. I pray that God forgives me for taking my eyes off of Him on His day. Thank you in advance and I pray that you all had a very Merry Christmas!