by Texas Stready

Christmas stockings. One of our family traditions. When we were young, whichever sibling woke up first would wake the others, and then we’d rush to the living room to discover our stockings stretched fat with untold treasures. So exciting. Still makes my heart glow in appreciation for the gift of good parents.

My family’s a loud and talkative bunch—to say the least. Very opinionated as well. The holidays. No one’s at school or work, even the stores are closed. Downtime. That’s what they call it. But the six weeks of insanity that take place between November 22nd and January 2nd, sure makes you appreciate your regular schedule.

Taste And See

From house decoration to food preparation, it’s a busy time. Then there’s the personalities—so many of them. And we all live our lives from our own perspectives. Of course we do, how the heck else would we do it. If we’re not careful, all these flavors mixed together can end up more bitter than sweet.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my people. Sure do. But too much interpersonal activity once brought an element of danger with it. If I wasn’t careful, the sideshow of various, and often controversial, emotions could make me feel like I was on the high dive looking down. A spooky encounter.

Until I learned the fine art of empathy. What’s that you ask? This, my friend, is the active formula that guarantees success.

Step Right Up

When it comes to forgiveness we’re way more capable than we recognize. One of the most beneficial practices I’ve learned is to place myself in the other person’s shoes, or at least realize that I cannot feel what I have not lived. Think about it. Have you ever stopped to consider that most people have experienced hardships you know nothing of? It’s true.

We all have a past. Some good, some bad—no matter—our individual personalities dictate how we perceive things, and our perception determines our reaction. We are not commanded to get what others go through; we are called to love them anyway. Not begrudgingly, but out of our appreciation for the forgiveness we’ve been given.

We’re all a mess. Apart from the reconciling love of God, we’re emotionally clumsy and spiritually silly. A bunch of clowns saved by grace. My sins not more ridiculous than yours, because all our hangups are formed from a circus of unhealed wounds. Appreciating this reality, insists our opening act be filled with kindness and patience.

Don’t Hesitate To Appreciate

Finding a reason to complain is a simple search. If we think too long or figure too hard, we can always find fault. What we need to work on is how to cultivate our ability to appreciate. God’s goodness is always with us. That’s how our Heavenly Father operates. Always and forever kind. Our rescuer, healer, protector, provider. God’s all that—and then some.

The way He works doesn’t always make sense to us but certain things are undeniably necessary—whether we get it or not. Reminds me of a sewing machine. If you thread your machine and happen to miss a small step in the process, the darn thing won’t stitch right. It’s amazing. Funny thing is, you don’t have to know why this is true to sew well. You just have to be willing to follow the mandatory guidelines. Get it?

Be Creative

God’s always up to something. Even in the middle of unexplainable, heart-wrenching circumstances. I know, I touched on this in my last blog—but I don’t think we get it. Life gets ugly, and that alone can make this concept difficult to conceive, but God not only knows it all, He uses it all. Don’t believe me? Try skipping a step and watch how quickly your life becomes a tangled mess. Been there, done that.

When will we learn to appreciate our family dynamics enough to know our Father is trustworthy? It’s a privilege to be a part of the family of God, and the “Will you believe?” thread is always on the spindle. So let’s practice the procedure until we trust God’s process implicitly. Then we can create a whole new look for our lives. One that fits perfectly.

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