Traveling to visit family brings up lots of emotions – good and bad. Hallmark cards and holiday movies don’t help. We feel pressured to have the Norman Rockwell family, and yet our picture of family looks vastly different.
This year I encourage a different approach to the holidays. Consider it a mission trip! Think about all that goes into a mission trip – the excitement building, months of preparation, team building, conflict resolution skills, and more. We can take these skills and use them to their fullest potential when approaching our own families this holiday season. Waste nothing, especially an opportunity to shine, even if you are entering hostile territory. If your territory is considered safe, make sure your skills are sharpened and packed so that you can quickly wield them in a way to stop even the most dangerous terrorist. Most families have at least one.
As 46.9 million Americans prepare to travel this week here are a few suggestions for making the trip.
I mean, who enjoys packing?! And we take enough clothes to stay a month! My motto is “A girl’s gotta have options,” but…don’t be THAT girl. Just pack everything you think you need and then remove half of it. You’re all set! Don’t forget at least one pair of pants with an expandable waistline – just in case.
Search your heart
Are you going on this little jaunt for you to have a ‘great experience’ and be served? Or are you going to be reminded of how grateful you are for your family and what they mean to you? To serve others, to listen and to love on the hurting broken people you might just encounter around that Thanksgiving meal? Remember, whatever your situation, God’s not finished. Last time I checked, He is still redeeming. You are part of a larger story; it’s not all about you and your week.
Stop and listen to the stories. Yes, even the ones you have heard a hundred times. Really listening might give you insights that you have overlooked. Take notes and ask thoughtful questions. Listening communicates, ‘You matter to me and you matter to God’.
God chose you as part of your family. I know, you are the smarter, wiser, more Bible-savvy one of the bunch, but He picked you. He has graciously chosen you, so be gracious. Being gracious is not what you accidentally become. It takes practice, so start early, work on your mind-set and ask God for help.
This is your tribe, leave them wanting more and hoping you will return soon. Leave letting them know you are standing in the gap for whatever opportunities your tribe offers; healing, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Leave them hungry for what they see in you that has nothing to do with the abundance of food left on the table. Leave Grateful. The food may have expanded our waistline but nothing expands our hearts like being grateful.