Tis the Season for… Empathy and Forgiveness.

By Jill- Going into the Christmas season it is easy to be overwhelmed with the financial burden and to forget what the celebration of Christ’s birth is really about.

At a sermon this past weekend, my pastor reflected upon the inevitable “Joy Thieves” of the season:  financial strain, house prepping, cooking, present wrapping, store shopping (and all of the fun things that come with that- trying to find parking, trying to find a sale, trying to make your way through a line, and then trying not to get angry at the person who took your parking spot, bought the last sale item, and pushed you on their way to the line).

The stress of the season is further compounded when having to face family members you don’t get to see all that much. The thought of seeing them and having to share a meal with them becomes even more stressful if your relationship with them has become strained over the years.

So this year for Christmas I propose a unique “gift” and I ask a difficult question:

Should you worry more about the “perfect” gift or “how much” it’s going to “set you back,” or could you focus on more valuable “intangible things,” such as repairing a fractured relationship?

Think about it. If it were you, would you rather receive another ugly shirt, inefficient blender, useless multi-tool, or box of cookies? (OK, maybe keep the cookies). Or would you rather a family member find the courage to come forward, bury the hatchet, and start your relationship on “new ground?”

A little bit of empathy can go a long way. Seeing a situation through each other’s eyes will provide both of you with perspective, and therefore, a new level of understanding. Maybe in understanding each other’s position, you can create a mutual solution to repair the relationship, and if not, maybe you will have to agree to disagree. Either way, take the time to have the conversation, so that both of you can move forward without the burden of negative emotions and stress. Then maybe, just maybe, next year at Christmas you won’t have to worry and stress about running into them. Who knows, by then, you might even be friends.

“If you don’t deal with your feelings, you have made the decision to live with them.”

Never underestimate the power of forgiveness. Forgive, and “give God a chance to work a miracle in the hard parts of your life.”

Is there a relationship you have attempted to rebuild in the past?  How did it go?  How did you feel going through it?  How do you feel on the other side?

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