If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18 NIV
Cold weather arrived suddenly, plunging us into shivering wind chills the day after we broke another record high. The flannel sheets were put on the bed and the throw made ready by the sofa. Multiple cups of coffee, tea, and hot apple cider have been consumed. I am absolutely ready for hibernation this year.
It would be lovely if you were sitting in the rocking chair in my Study, tea table between us, sipping a Holiday tea in pretty china cups. I would make shortbread cookies if I knew you were coming. We would talk books, of course, and forget politics completely.
This is the time of year people who disagree are thrown together by the Holidays. I recall a pastor I had long ago who gave the same sermon the Sunday before Thanksgiving every year. He reminded everyone that family gatherings tend to be messy and to treat each other with grace. That is particularly needful this year when even Christians are being divided based on whom they voted for in November.
I have a story to share about how hard it is to continually show grace. My sister and her husband moved back into the area recently and they invited us out to lunch on Veterans Day. Both the men are Vietnam vets so their meals would be free. We had a lovely time until the election came up. I had warned my husband not to say anything at all since Bonnie and I haven't voted for the same president since the 1970s.
Well, in a corner booth near a window at Applebees, I snapped. All the news and the Facebook rants and the Instagram rants and everything else came together and I told my sister exactly what I thought of her candidate. I suppose it was worth it just to see the look on my husband's face.
Now, I must say... Bonnie is the person for me to break my own rule with since we can disagree and let it go completely within a minute or so. Which is what happened. Very shortly we were once again laughing and having a great time together. But I had shocked myself at my reaction.
My mother had eight children, seven with her first husband who died in his 30s, one (moi') with my father. Of the eight children, only two of my sisters remain alive and they are elderly. Bonnie is the second youngest nearest me and she is fourteen or fifteen years older. Even our youngest sister passed away long ago. Grace must be shown.
No argument is worth winning when it comes to family... and I may add friends.
Now, I'm not talking about healthy debate within the immediate family around the evening dinner table. That can be the way we teach our children how to think. When they are free to give opinions and are never put down or be made to feel as if they have said something foolish.
I am talking about when we get together with family and friends... especially those we rarely see... and especially at the table. For I think of a Holiday table as almost sacred. This is the season for speaking grace. This is the season to live grace. If at no other time of the year, it is especially important for us to make our homes a safe place, with quieting music in the background, candles lit, delicious smells coming from the kitchen, and a smile on our face. Even as we say hello to that relative that drives us nuts.
I have a quote said by Maya Angelou displayed in the Study. It hangs over the cabinet with the vintage sewing machine as sculpture. It says People may forget what you said or did, but not how you made them feel. I certainly know that is true for me as there are some people I think of and feel all warm and cozy inside... while a few names come up and I immediately get tense and frown and resemble Grumpy Cat.
My greatest longing is for people to know my Savior as their own. To accept his offer of forgiveness of sins, to know the Holy Spirit as Comforter and Friend, to see His Father as Abba and not one who is waiting to deluge them with lightening bolts.
But I realize if I care more for people to think I am right than for them to know the only perfect Person to walk the face of this planet, that would be a great disappointment to our Lord. It is definitely not easy to love our enemies. That is an area for which I still struggle. However, I am a whole lot better at it than I once was.
Which brings me to the most important person for you to show grace to... yourself. I have often written that we must give our younger selves grace for we did not know then what we do now. We had not walked with Him as long as we have now. We hopefully have more wisdom now.
But if you blow it like I did on Veterans Day, redeem the moment and go on. As much as it is possible, be at peace this Holiday season. If you absolutely must discuss politics, do so in January or February or March... but let it go for now. You may win an argument (although probably not) at the cost of a relationship.
May your Thanksgiving be very blessed and for those friends not in America, we wish you a year of blessings and grace.
Photo: My favorite barn photo taken a few winters back. I will try to make a new barn related header this winter.