Loving Your Family During The Holidays
Over the summer, we often spend more time with our families than normal - especially if we're going away on holiday together, or have finished school or university for the year. Hatty writes on how we can be proactive in loving our families well, becoming daughters and sisters who are generous and gracious!
Holidays are beautiful things. No structure. Time to do thing you’ve wanted to do all term, like... absolutely nothing! The dream. Catch up with sleep or friends or Netflix or work. Term time is so busy and stressy, we totally deserve time off from all our responsibilities. Surely our families understand we just need a break!
Looking back at how I used to be during the holidays, I realise that my attitude was driven mostly by entitlement, self-centredness, and unintentional ungratefulness, all of which got in the way of me loving my family well, and contradict the fruit of the spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Entitlement kills kindness and forbearance, self-centeredness kills love and faithfulness, while ungratefulness kills any gentleness. The holidays became all about me having the best time for myself, regardless of the needs of my family around me. I realised that even though my mouth declared a desire to see more of the Spirit’s fruit, my heart desired the complete opposite!
I have started to realise that the only way to truly change behaviour at home, is not by simply trying harder, but changing my heart attitude towards my family. Our families are made up of individuals all in need, and deserving, of grace. They are our communities, and it is our privilege to know them, and love them through their highs and lows.
To be able to do this, I had to realise that I related to my family in unhealthy ways which I will explore a bit below! Once I realised these lies, I said sorry to God for them, and started to speak Biblical truth into them instead, and see my attitude towards them change!
I found it easy to assume that my parent’s sole job was to serve me and my needs, therefore I used to judge them according to their level of attentiveness and service of me. But this is not fair; it meant I was putting unfair expectations on them, and not valuing them for being children of God themselves.
Without realising it, my love for them was conditional on their performance! So I repented, and asked God to help me view my parents as individuals with dreams and struggles of their own, rather than slaves! The result has been a transformation in my relationship with my parents, where I am able to ask them how they are doing themselves, and support them in small ways, rather than just be a drain on them.
It helped me to realise that my parents need a break just as much as I do in the holidays! So it’s not right for me to to just drop all my responsibilities at home, because it would just mean my parents had to pick up the slack instead.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” - which is the first commandment with a promise - “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
I struggle with pride. I always think my way is the best way. So when my family disagree with me, I used to react by ignoring them and telling them they were wrong! But this is not helpful or loving. It meant i saw my siblings as projects, to be educated in the way of ‘Hattyness’. But if God had wanted that, he would simply have filled the world with Hattys. What a good thing he didn’t! It would have been very boring.
Instead, He delighted in creating diversity of looks, minds and gifts. Realising this, I have been able to repent of my arrogance, and, instead of judging my siblings, I have tried to get alongside them and understand where they’re coming from. Not only is their opinion valid, but I hate to say, sometime it can even be superior to my own…
In the same way Paul talks about the Christian family as being made up of many different, but equal parts, so are our families:
If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body. (1 Corinthians 12:17-20)
This is a process of self-discovery, realising what the lies are that lead us to treat our families in certain ways. Everyone will have different stories and different reasons, but everyone is also capable of changing the way they relate to their families! It’s not a quick fix, but the long journey starts by asking God to help you understand yourself better.
Hatty has just finished studying at Leeds. She is looking forward to moving to London in September, to support the work and students of the Christian Unions. This is her last luxurious, long student summer holiday, which she is making the most of - whilst also being convicted as she writes these posts!