“For-gift-ness: The Gift Everyone Needs Year Round!

“For-gift-ness: The Gift Everyone Needs Year Round!

(Published initially on http://www.Livingbetterat50.com  Nov. 2012)

by Holly LaChappell

The Holidays are almost upon us. What are your family dynamics? Emotions can run high and getting together with extended and immediate family can create stress, dreg up a lot of emotions and hard memories of holidays past.

What if we started our gift giving early? What if you gave the generous gift of “for-gift-ness” (forgiveness) before you got together for the festivities? Could there be a change in your attitude and also possibly in the attitude for who you are praying and forgiving? I believe so! Think about what has bothered you about a certain person’s behavior, their words and their facial expressions. Pray, asking God to help you forgive them. Pray, Lord help me to let go of the past hurts and embrace your love and acceptance for me and the person I am trying to forgive.

Some forgiveness tips: remember no one has lived a perfect childhood or life. Things have happened in our past to shape us into the person we are today. Many of us are responding out of a five year old’s body and mind, because when something traumatic happened to us, our bodies stored the memory. Your five year old self formed a defense mechanism (or survival mechanism) around the hurtful or traumatic experience.  When your Aunt gives you a disapproving look, remember you are not five years old anymore! Your adult self can shrug it off and say, “Really? What’s the matter here?” and they will probably back down and say, “Nothing”.  Or you can just choose to ignore the look that was probably not intended for you anyway! So much of how people respond is about them and how they are internalizing something. It’s not about you!

Tips for a more pleasurable Holiday experience: Pray, asking God for His outcome in the event. Try building rapport (again) with family members ahead of time by giving them a phone call or mailing them a postcard. Let them know the details of the day, mentioning a family walk, a game or they’ll have an opportunity during dinner to say what they are thankful for. I also have activities for the younger children such as coloring, simple crafts, books and games. Let them know you are looking forward to celebrating the Holidays with them.

Do let your family members have a say about what the menu will be and what they can bring to contribute to the meal. Everyone needs to feel a sense of control and a sense of security and belonging. Letting everyone know your expectations helps to minimize unfortunate surprises. Ask if they are bringing anyone else with them to dinner. Let your family members know what time they can come to help set up and what time dinner is served. I suggest keeping the dinner time as close as possible. If alcohol has been a past problem, I suggest opting for non-alcoholic drinks to help reduce quarreling and potential violence.

As the Hostess, you help set the tone of the Holiday. If you are uptight and anxious, you will put everyone else on edge. Remember the reason you are gathering together in the first place: to celebrate God’s provision and His 10,000+ blessings! At Christmas, we celebrate the most important gift we have ever received: Jesus! His love and forgiveness is the gift that keeps on giving! Knowing He is with us gives us peace and contentment. We are anchored in His love no matter how our families act! Ps. 16:11 “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence.”  Let the “for-gift-ness” begin!  Merry Christmas!

Peace & Joy!

Peace: in Greek the word  is “shalom.” It means peace, completeness, welfare and health. That about covers it, our lives in full, I think! In the Old Testament, the word peace is used 237 times! It is a pretty important concept! It’s a state of being at ease,with harmony in your soul  and mind, so it’s externally and internally. We know don’t we, if our insides are calm or crazy, our outsides are going to reflect what is going on! It’s pretty hard to conceal our discomfort, pain or dissatisfaction. Isaiah prophesied our Prince of Peace~ Jesus in Isaiah 9:6. And in 9:7 he said, “His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies  will make this happen!”

Peace in Greek as a noun is: “eirene”

As a verb, peace is: “eireneuo”. It means to keep peace or be at peace.

As an adjective, “eirenikos” denotes peaceful and is used as the fruit of righteousness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at each of these pictures,  you can choose one that can help you feel relaxed and produce a sense of peace right now. See Jesus there with you, comforting you, holding your heart and casting away your fears. Thank Him for a peace that surpasses all understanding. Carry that visual, that picture with you today as you go through your day facing your fear or uncertainties.

Isn’t true also, when we are resenting something or somebody,  it causes us fear, unrest, discontent? So, we start to distant ourselves from the problem, the challenge, the bump in the road…instead of praying and going to Jesus first! It always seems to me, my peace is interrupted when  my comfort level is at stake, our kids are making wrong decisions, and someone in charge is doing something crazy! Holding a grudge, harboring bitterness and unforgiveness not only steals our peace but also our joy! And, it can sneak up on us and can happen oh so quickly!

What if our mindset the moment we wake up was: “Be my first thought, God!” Lord, help me to Seek first your Kingdom! This helps us  to set the tone of our day, so we can start out with a peaceful attitude!

Phil. 4: 4 “Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy.” Does anyone want more JOY in their lives? I know I sure do!  The Greek word for JOY is rendered “chairo”.

Have you ever stopped to think how God allows crazy, hard situations in your life, so you can still practice being joyful in the midst of the trial?! Hmmm…We have to come to a place in our lives where we can rejoice for  what is taking place. Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say, REJOICE! God has to become the point of our joy! This is the mark of spiritual maturity in us. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. Learn that all that comes into your life, even those irritating comments,  is allowed by the Lord either to reveal something in your own heart that you haven’t seen or to give you an opportunity to manifest the “sweet reasonableness” (gentleness) of Jesus.

Years ago, when my daughter was eight years old, she asked me if I would go to camp with her and be her Camp counselor. I was super excited because I had never gone to “overnight camp” as she called it, before.  There was a rivalry building between the boys and girls. Rumor had it, it was pay back time because the girls had gotten the boys pretty good with water balloons at the last year’s camp. Well, from  the earliest moment possible, on the second day of camp,  the water balloon war was on! ! The girls in my cabin and I were  chased onto a tall wooden deck by the boys with water balloons. We of course, had already tossed our water balloons and a few broke  on the the boys! As we were running away from the boys and their triple stacked arm filled water balloons, the deck broke! My leg went through the decaying wooden deck! I could see a hole in the deck, just about 15 feet below me! I was pretty stunned and torpedo water balloons were splashing and landing all around us! All the girls helped me up as the camp officials came running to help! I am sure the Camp’s officials thought I was going to sue! But, Jesus’  “sweet reasonableness” abounded that day and over the next few days! Today, my wedding ring is not completely round, my middle finger is no longer straight and I have a nice scar that looks like the continent of Africa on my knee!

As I look at my somewhat misshaped  circular wedding ring, I am reminded Jesus’ unfailing love never stops. His love just continuously circles around my heart and it never runs out!

His unfailing peace is always mine as my mind stays rooted in Him.  His unending joy is mine when I stop to thank Him and have gratitude, knowing He is always near to me.

I also have peace and joy in my memories, spending that precious camp experience with my daughter!