Isn’t it ironic that a day that heralds “peace” and “joy” carries so much strife and grief into our lives? Especially during these troubled times when pressure is at an all-time high. As if juggling meal plans, family dynamics, and covid restrictions, isn’t stressful enough.
“Ugh! Christmas!” How many times have you heard that already this month?
“Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth, goodwill towards men…” (Luke 2:14)
God’s Christmas gift promises “Peace on earth…”
Peace in our circumstances.
Peace with others.
Why then, do we experience so little of it?
Last week we unwrapped God’s gift of peace amidst difficult circumstances and I’m still savoring it. But even as I hold His gift in my heart, peace in the arena of relationships has been a bit sparse.
And I’ve discovered something you may be able to relate to: when under pressure my default position is “self-preservation”: only seeing and reacting to the immediate pressure I face, without much reference to those around me. Everything else–everyone else–falls back to a secondary position of importance. I funnel my energy into my inner world as I hunker down inside myself to cope. And I don’t exhibit much patience in the process.
No wonder I’m not experiencing God’s gift of peace in my relationships!
What can we do to experience peace with others, especially through the holidays? Here are three steps to unwrap God’s gift of peace in our relationships, especially when we’re under pressure.
Perspective: Cultivate a big picture view by remembering what’s really important. Our petty differences, irritations, preferences, grudges, all fall away before the preciousness and fragility of life. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the full weight of this truth. What remains paramount amidst every pressure is that God is revealed and others are loved through us. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Praise: Build a bridge of peace by sharing words of praise. When dealing with a difficult person this Christmas praise them for anything positive about them that you can see. (If you can’t find anything, ask God to show you something praiseworthy.) Keeping quiet when that abrasive person grates against us can be a real accomplishment. However, though silence is good, praise is even better for it communicates the gracious love of our own patient Savior.“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)
Practice: Escape “self-preservation mode” by focusing on the needs of others. Ask yourself, “What can I do this holiday season to help my spouse, relative, friend, or neighbor cope with the pressure they are facing? Look for opportunities to highlight God’s presence. Act on opportunities to share His love. Seek peace and pursue it…” (I Peter 3:11)
And receive, unwrap, and enjoy God’s gift of peace on earth. . .
. . . even on our own little patch of it.
What do you do to promote peace in your relationships amidst high-pressure situations?
The 3 P’s, Perspective, Praise and Practice, this is so helpful–great for any season! I really needed this, now. God Bless, luke
I could use the reminder myself! Thanks for the encouragement.
I loved your 3 P’s–so practical. I’m not a big picture person, so it helps to be reminded. Great wisdom! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Kris. 🙂
My husband knows how pressured I am this year making most of our Christmas gifts – you can check out some of the 25 table runners I’ve finished on my facebook page. I can tell I am still very stressed – my blood pressure is up and my defenses are up, my tolerance is down. Jay has been a huge help, promoting peace for me. The flannel quilt that I am finishing up for my son Tim needed the clipping of every seam so they will fluff when washed and dried. Jay sat last night, while I was working on Christmas cards and clipped every seam for me – I didn’t notice until he told me today that when I said “I am working hard in here and you are doing nothing” – bad bad bad, he was sitting with TV on and clipping. I owe him much. A little help on something really changes the atmosphere for me from poor me to wow, how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful husband. Thank you dear Lord for promoting peace in my heart and for prompting Jay to generously give up his time for me.
Thank you for your honesty. I really appreciated your insight, “A little help on something really changes the atmosphere. . .” Isn’t that the truth! It goes a very long way to promoting peace amidst pressure. It always softens my heart and prepares the way for peace. Now if I can just think of it in time to be the initiator of peace in those tough situations. . .
I loved it. So much thought into your evaluation of peace…You relate it to yourself and what you feel and do to recover peace that is to be admired my dear Bethany. Thank you for always being transparent. I think many of us out here needed to hear what you wrote…Love Jackie
Regarding what you say about peace in relationships you might want to check out the information on http://www.bullies2buddies.com and download one of the free books. The ideas are similar, but the site goes into a lot more specifics about handling problem people.
Thanks, Jan! 🙂