“Jesus doesn’t ask us to love everyone; he asks us to love our neighbour. Loving everyone is relatively easy. Most of us can muster a general feeling of goodwill towards an unspecific someone, as long as you never actually have to live with them. But to love your neighbour, to love your family, to love those very particular and hugely irritating people that are actually with you now, well, this is much more difficult. But it is the only hope for peace in our world.” S. Cottrell
It was my niece’s 3rd birthday today – which means the relatives were round to celebrate. (Although not all of them, which was probably a good thing as they wouldn’t all fit in our Lounge.) Family get-togethers seem always to be a thing of delight and despair. It is nice to see everyone again, but everyone is hoping that you-know-who will stay away from she-said-what’s. Loving the people who know you inside out (and therefore know all your flaws) is always going to be harder than loving someone halfway across the world who you only ever speak to online.
But learning to love people despite of their flaws is what teaches us the true meaning of love. After all – God loved us before we did anything at all that should merit love. His love is meritless – you have it regardless, in spite of all you do to demerit it. In fact, the only reason we can love, is because Christ loved us first. (1 John 4:19)
So this Christmas, give your family a break. And learn to love them, in spite of all they do that might frustrate you, annoy you and generally drive you crazy. After all – you’re probably pretty much stuck with them for many years to come. You may as well learn to enjoy it.
DNCIC recommendations for today:
· Instead of looking with delight at the splinter in your brother’s eye, remove the log from your own.
· OK, so you don’t always like your family, but that doesn’t excuse you from loving them, and offering them the generosity and kindness that you long to receive.
· In fact, when it comes to generosity and kindness, you will reap what you sow.
· Plan some things to do together that are not just watching TV. In my family we always play games. It’s a great leveller. Arrange a Boxing Day walk. Book some tickets for the local panto.
· God’s love for the world is communicated through a person who, like us, was born in a family. God knows what they’re like. He knows they’re not always easy.
“Family is just accident… They don’t mean to get on your nerves. They don’t even mean to be your family, they just are.” Marsha Norman
P.S. I don’t have an Aunt Mildred. Just thought it sounded like a good title.