Happy Monday!! Hard to believe Christmas week is here! Are you as excited as I am? Today’s guest post comes from the faithful and talented Cindy Finley
. I met Cindy a few times in Charlottesville, but really connected with her when I began reading her blog
and following her family’s adoption journey
to bring their beautiful daughter Katya home with them. Here’s Cindy!
Pulling into the driveway, I glanced at the handsome man behind the wheel. He smiled at me, and I smiled back, but my stomach flip-flopped and my heart pounded in my chest. As the car rolled to a stop, the front door, wreathed in Christmas greenery, opened and out came my family.
“Bill, I’d like for you to meet my family. Mom, Phil, I’d like for you to meet Bill.”
Bill and I had known each other for years, but six weeks earlier, we had walked and talked, shared our hearts for Jesus, and our growing interest in one another. By late that afternoon, our relationship was definitely defined. Intensely attracted to each other, and seeing a matching passion for Jesus in one another, we began to intentionally date. Bringing Bill home to meet my parents was the next step.
As I stood in the driveway introducing my family to Bill, I was nervous. What would he think about them What would he think about the lavish decorations, presents spilling out from under the tree? What embarrassing stories would my family tell about me?
Since I had met the Lord three years before, going home for Christmas had been hard for me. Immaturity, zealousness, and a judgmental spirit was an ugly combination. I needed a new way of going home.
Going into the house, (the wise men) saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And, being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Matthew 2:11b-12
They went home by another way. Hearts full of wonder and worship, they heeded the warning and went home by another way.
If going home for Christmas is hard for you, as it was for me, here’s what I recommend to help you dislodge the old patterns, the familiar routes, and go home this Christmas by another way.
1. Be yourself
As a woman of God, your identity is in Christ. You are a child of God. Family and old friends may try to put the immaturity of high school, or old, negative behaviors back on you. They may tell stories that make you uncomfortable or ashamed. Without defensiveness, simply remember that although your past may be shameful, you are fully loved and fully redeemed. (2 Corinthians 6:17-18, 1 John 3:1)
2. Be gracious
Even if family members and friends are unkind to you, be gracious to them. As you choose kindness, love, compassion, and patience, you are giving them a picture of the grace you have received from Christ. (Colossians 4:5-6, 1 Peter 3:9)
3. Be a servant
Be the first to wash dishes, take out the trash, run an errand, and while you’re serving, invite someone to help out or come along. As you serve others, not only will you be following in the way of Jesus, you may also have the chance for a real conversation. (Philippians 2:6-7, Galatians 5:13)
4.Be a light
Share about your life. Without Christian lingo, talk about the work God is doing in your life. But sometimes you can be light by not saying anything. When gossip, idle or malicious talk begins, simply choose not to participate. (Matthew 5:13-16, Philippians 2:14-15)
Over the holidays, unhealthy patterns may attract you. You may face temptations from the past. Make wise choices. When that old boyfriend tells you how good you look and invites you to join him for drinks, just say, “No, thank you,” Be wise. (Ephesians 5:15-17, Romans 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 5:17)
6. Be courageous
Going home can feel scary. You may feel worried or anxious. Perhaps going home feels to you a bit like going into a land where there are warring giants. But just as God promised Joshua, He promises you, “Do not be frightened. Do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” When you go home, God will be with you. (Joshua 1:1-10, Philippians 4:6-7, Matthew 6:25-34)
Read your Bible. Pray. Listen to worship music. Journal. Whatever disciplines, habits, or patterns you have developed to cultivate intimacy with Jesus, keep them up. Although you may be out of your familiar places, your familiar routines, be faithful to keep Jesus above all else. (Philippians 3:12-16, Hebrews 10:39)
Bill and I survived that first Christmas, married the following August, and now are mom and dad to seven children. Last week I went home again. This time, not to introduce my family to Bill, but to be with my mom and step-father as she recovered from knee surgery. As I pulled into the driveway, I smiled at the lavish decorations. That evening, Mom dozed in and out of a percocet sleep and my step-father and I talked about life, real life, and the life to come. Icing my mom’s knee, keeping track of her medications, listening to her breathing in the middle of the night, I felt honored and blessed. Not even 24 hours later, I pulled out of the driveway, my car loaded with presents to put under our tree. Rather than seeing them as manic materialism, I saw them as they are, an expression of my mother’s love.
Going home for Christmas is hard for many of us. If going home for Christmas is hard for you, rather than sliding into the familiar route, rather than being ruled by immaturity or judgmentalism, choose the way of the wise men: fill your heart with wonder and worship and go home by another way.