So I have a friend who really dislikes decorating for Christmas. She thinks it’s messy, it’s a hassle, and every year wonders if she has to do it at all. I, on the other hand, put my trees up on the tenth of November. Of course, there are other things that fill her with joy that don’t seem like a lot of fun to me. But here’s the amazing things—-we’re still friends. In fact, I’d say she’s one of my favorite people. We talk a couple of times a week. She listens as I squeal about my Christmas decorations and I listen as she talks about her glittery nail polish, then we talk about the things we have in common. (Like chocolate—we both really love chocolate—and Jesus). Even though we aren’t exactly alike, we’re still good friends. In fact, one of the things that I enjoy most about our friendship is that I get to be me and she gets to be her. We aren’t trying to change the other—-we just enjoy our friendship. The other day we were joking that maybe the country could learn a lesson from us. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that maybe it wasn’t a joke. Maybe it’s something we could actually think about as we’re heading into this holiday season. Because let’s be honest: one of the biggest fears people have about the holidays is the potential battlefields that could arise over disagreements around the holiday table. ---Should it be called a “holiday” or “Christmas”?
---To shop or not to shop on Thanksgiving day?
---Whose football team is the best?
---Is President Trump the best or worst president in the history of America? And let’s not even get into the minefield of family disputes just waiting for someone to accidentally (or intentionally) light the fuse and reignite the argument! It’s a sad state of affairs that many will have indigestion before they even sit down to the Thanksgiving feast because they are stressed that someone at the table will introduce a topic that causes disagreement. They say we live in a divided country, but one thing I’m sure we can all agree on is that fighting over petty differences at the holiday table is one thing we’d all like to stop. So this week, before the turkey is cooked and the pies are baked, I’d like to challenge you to make a decision. Before one guest arrives, make the choice that you will not let anything or anyone steal your joy. How do you do that? Choose now before one conversation starts, that you are not going to get into a debate. The truth is that just like it takes two to tango, it takes two people to have an argument. Here’s another truth: just because someone tees up the argument, doesn’t mean that you have to take a swing. Instead, you can determine in your heart ahead of time that if a topic comes up, you are not going to defend your case or try to convert someone else to your way of thinking…..especially when it comes to things that don’t matter. Here’s how to define whether or not something matters: Will it impact the other person’s eternal destiny? Let’s be honest, most of the things that cause holiday friction don’t get anywhere near meeting this standard. Sports teams, politics, how someone cleans their home, or which recipe grandma uses to make a pie, don’t even come close. Instead of focusing on the differences, choose to focus on the things you can be thankful for. For instance, the very fact that you have people to disagree with means you aren’t alone. If you’re sitting down to a meal, you can be thankful for that. And we can all be thankful that we live in a country where we have the freedom to have and share our own beliefs and opinions. Don’t fall into the trap of “But they started it!” Then you should end it. When Uncle Milton says something outrageous, choose not to argue. Instead, laugh it off. Give him a hug and tell him that you’re glad he’s here to share the holiday. You’ll be surprised at how far a little love and laughter will go to defuse a difficult situation. If that doesn’t work, just let him talk and smile. Choose not to argue. Eventually he’ll get tired or hungry or just think he’s convinced you. The point is that only you can let someone steal your holiday joy. You can choose to avoid arguments about things that don’t matter; and you can choose to focus on the positive rather than the negative. If we’d all choose to do that, I believe we’d all have a much happier holiday season. It’s also a good way to shine the light of Jesus to the world—but showing kindness, patience, and joy even with people who don’t agree with us about everything. 2 Timothy 2:23-24 says, “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” —-Stay out of foolish, ignorant arguments —-Avoid quarrels —-Be patient with difficult people These are actions the Bible says should be a part of a godly person’s life. It also sounds like a recipe for a more joyful Thanksgiving dinner. So those are my thoughts. I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, delicious food and lots and lots of joy. Now I have to go enjoy my Christmas decorations and send a video message to my friend. Then maybe I’ll have some really good chocolate.