Staying Distinctive On Holiday With Friends
Holiday season is here (wahoo!) and we're thinking about how to stay distinctive and courageous as girls of faith, whatever our holidays might look like. Today we're sharing one girl's experience of holidaying with friends who aren't Christians, and some practical tips about sharing our life and loving our friends whilst staying faithful to Jesus.
Going on holiday with non-Christians? There is no doubt that this is a great opportunity to get to know them better, and for them to see you live out your faith on a day-to-day basis. (And to have some fun and rest in the sunshine!)
But, as I found, holiday-culture can make it difficult to live out as a Christian – it’s an intense time, staying in the same room and doing the same things for a week.
I’ve recently come back from a week away with two university friends, and I had a really fun and chilled out holiday. I loved spending time with my friends, having conversations that went beyond life on our course and getting to know one another. I praise God that I got to know them much better and the way that they questioned my faith and how it flowed naturally out of our conversations.
We need to seek to live differently and reflect Christ every day, and can pray that we can do this on holiday too. I have found Colossians 3 (take a read of the full chapter here) really helpful when thinking about how I can love my friends well and reflecting on how I can love them better in the future.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (v2)
I’d say that a really practical starting point is to chat to your friends about expectations. If you know what kind of holiday you are going on, you can decide if you want to go and prepare for anything that you might not be willing to engage with. My friends invited me on holiday and my immediate reaction was: No, I’m not going to that party town. After a short conversation, I realised they were staying out of town and going on a chilled-out beach holiday. They knew that I was a Christian, and I was clear about my boundaries and values.
Had I been with different friends, I may have faced pressure to get involved in the party-culture. We need to live in the world, but be on our guard to make sure we are setting our minds on things of above, not on what the world has to offer.
Bear with each other and forgive one another (v13)
It is inevitable that you, and your friends are going to say and do things that annoy or upset you. Bear with your friends, they don’t have the same priorities as you and pray that you will be quick to forgive. I found that when I let things go, I enjoyed myself a lot more.
I often felt quite lonely, especially as the only Christian and prayed that I would know God with me in the times when I was feeling frustrated and alone. I found home friends a really great way to stay accountable and who could chat and pray when things were hard.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts (v15)
I’m the first to admit that I am quick to feel frustration and annoyance at things that don’t really matter. On holiday I had to be flexible and let go of being in control, which was very sanctifying!
One example was our spending money, which my friends wanted to pool together. I knew my spending habits were different, but as I thought about it, saying no would have told my friends that I didn’t trust them and I knew that I wasn’t funding any wild binges. Instead, I actively prayed that my heart would be at peace with the situation.
There are always times of frustration on holiday - we are living with people. But a holiday, along with its frustrations, is only shortlived. I know that that peace of Christ and my security in him is much greater and this is something I’d encourage anyone to pray for a they prepare to go away. Paul also encourages us to be thankful, and I found it good for the heart to actively find things to be thankful for.
And above all, put on love. (v14)
There are times in life when we just don’t want to love another. There were definitely times on holiday when I wanted to get cross, and I admit that my heart probably did. It is in the difficult times we have to decide to love our friends - as an expression of God's vast love for us.
If you are going on holiday with friends soon, why not take some time to pray that you would love the people you're with (especially when you don't feel like it!). Trust that the Holy Spirit would be at work in you, and trust that your love and investment into your friends will not go unnoticed or unused by God.