Family, Holidays, and Misunderstanding

“…the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running,” Luke 2:15 (MSG)

The kings “entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him.” Matt. 2:11 (MSG)

Holidays, whether it is Christmas, Easter, or July 4th, can be trying for families with a loved one with a mental illness. family, food, fellowshipChristmas time is especially hard because it is portrayed as the ultimate of family times. While we all dream of a traditional Currier and Ives family gathering, most often it’s more like a Griswald family event.

Family gatherings have two difficulties: Our loved one and the rest of the family.

Often our loved ones aren’t able to take part as we, and others, want or expect. Generally, they try to put up a good front. But too many times, it degrades to conflict and hurt feelings.

Our other family members, especially those who don’t understand that our child is sick, have high expectations for us and our loved one. These expectations may be voiced in seemingly loving terms. How often have you watched in pain as your child is questioned by an uncle or grandparent about school, job, or social life? All things your child desires but is unable to do.

Or, there are the “whispered” comments that are within earshot. “You know, if they would stop babying her she could grow up and live a normal life.” Or, “If he were my son, I’d throw him out on the street.”

Then, there’s the pain of seeing our child sit alone because no one wants to be near him. There is an unspoken fear of catching whatever he has, or our child being violent, or just plain weird.

As much as we would like to skip the whole affair, we cannot. We cannot because Christmas is not a celebration of family and friends. It is the celebration of Christ; the One who brings healing and peace. For our own sakes, we need to worship him.

All kinds of people came to worship the Baby Jesus. God has seen fit to put all kinds of people in our family. Just as he personally selected those who would witness the Savior’s birth, He has personally selected our family members for us.

God’s Word doesn’t give specific instructions for dealing with each situation. He does say to love our neighbors, including the obnoxious members of the family.

Go into Christmas with worship in mind. Do it in a way that fits you and your child. And sometimes that means forgoing the traditional family gathering. Seek God as the wise men did. Run to the Savior as the shepherds did. He is the source of all peace and healing.

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