Picture this scene:
It’s Thanksgiving Day.
The table has been set with Grandma’s fine China.
The turkey has been carved.
The family members pose just before the blessing is said for a Norman Rockwell portrait.
The blessing is prayed.
The partaking of the Thanksgiving meal begins.
And then it happens – Uncle Obnoxious begins his usual antics of getting securely under your skin with his big mouth. His opinionated views on politics, religion, today’s youth, the preacher, and even how the turkey was carved flows as freely as water coming out of the kitchen faucet. His very presence begins to gnaw at you, and you pray under your breath, “Lord, why did I ever decide to come to this family gathering.”
Sound familiar to you? Suffice it to say, most of us have an Uncle Obnoxious, or someone in our family who just sort of rubs us the wrong way. Perhaps some of you are already thinking of ways to respectfully decline this year’s Thanksgiving invitation, knowing he/she will be there.
Wait! Before you decline, may I offer you a ray of hope from my own experience that, not only brought emotional and spiritual healing into my heart, but paved the way for me to deal with all the, shall we respectfully call them “sandpaper” people in my life.
You see, people like Uncle Obnoxious used to make me cringe. In fact, I thought I was called into the world to give “Help Tips” to my relatives and friends that would assist them in seeing things more positively. And Lord knows, those legalistic people who only see things as either black or white, definitely needed my assistance in helping them balance the truth.
Hogwash. The real truth of the matter was I was trying to mold them into what I wanted them to be, especially if I were going to have to deal with them on a regular basis. The bottom line was, instead of my help tips helping them, I was causing division.
The spiritual light bulb revelation that “changed me” instead of me trying to change others came as I listened to my mentor, the late Melba Berkheimer teach from Romans 15:7: Receive (accept) one another as Christ also received us to the glory of God.”
My spiritual light bulbs really went off when Melba asked: “Did God say if you get rid of all the moles, then I will accept you? Did God wait for you to get perfect before accepting you?”
She continued by explaining that there is a big difference in accepting and approving. We sometimes think that we have to approve of someone in order to accept him/her, and that’s not true. We have to accept a lot of things in life, but we don’t have to approve them. We are all going to have different opinions, temperaments, and personalities. These different types of people don’t have to be our bosom buddies, (even relatives) but we do have to accept them.
And so it was. I sat down with a pen and paper and begin to write out all those things that had gotten under my skin about a few people. I then decided it was time to throw the list in the garbage can. I made a conscientious decision that I would now accept them just the way they are, and allow our creator to make whatever changes He thought was needed in their lives to serve Him better. He didn't need my help.
Believe me. I am no longer stressed out around those people who used to make me cringe just to be in the same room with them. Well, not much anyway. Healing came into my life as I accepted them, as well as forgiveness for times their words had hurt me. And yes, I had to ask a few people to forgive me for trying to change them. (They couldn’t believe it!)
And with that, I encourage you to start preparing your heart for Thanksgiving to meet up with Uncle Obnoxious. Make a decision to love him unconditionally - warts, moles, and all—just like Christ loves and accepts you.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends.
May there be acceptance and unity at your Thanksgiving table.