Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays,
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam –
If you want to be happy in a million ways,
For the holidays – you can’t beat home, sweet home!
Yeah, okay. Christmas is coming, and that means lots of travel to see family. Which can be fun! (Can be.)
I absolutely love seeing my family at Christmas, but holidays are notoriously stressful (depressing, suicide-inducing) for many — sometimes because of unrealistic expectations or unresolved wounds, or even because the whole family thing didn’t really pan out the way we’d hoped. Being together can throw us back into old family roles or paradigms we spent our adulthood seeking to recover from.
But time together can also show up current differences, foundational issues on which we seriously disagree — perhaps reminding us why we moved out or moved on! In those times, it’s important to hold onto who you know yourself to be. Hold onto who you truly are. Hold onto what God has told you. That can be quite difficult in the face of naysayers, friend or foe, but it’s important to your wellbeing.
I’m reminded of the nativity story, when the unmarried teenaged Mary gets pregnant… in a time when women were pretty much kicked to the curb for such a thing. Joseph knew he didn’t do it and wondered what now. Then God told Joseph in a vision to go ahead and marry Mary because God had caused it. Unfortunately, the angel appeared only to Joseph, not to the whole community, who from then on whispered about how “it wasn’t Joseph’s baby.” Yeah. Those people weren’t necessarily hostile, but simply operating on what they knew, which is always limited, isn’t it? They had no Bible story to prove that God actually had control of the situation. Joseph and Mary knew what people said about them, but they also knew the truth. For the rest of their lives, they had to draw on God’s strength to know they were right with him and doing exactly what he had given them to do, regardless of what others said to or about them. They never did get the approval of popular opinion.
You too may know, not only that God loves you (I hope you know that), but that God created you exactly the way you are (I hope you know that too). If you are LGBTQ, you may have to hold onto God’s complete acceptance of you, in the face of a community that doesn’t believe you’re right with God.
You may decide that, yeah, there’s no place like home for the holidays — your own home! You may limit the visit to family this year — or forget it altogether! Let me encourage you to do what you need to do for you.
If you do gather with family for this joyful season, take heart. Remember the truth about who you are and what God says about you. Love those who don’t yet know any better, because maybe they are doing they best they can do. Joseph and Mary had to bear up under serious character attack and trust what only they knew, so you’re in good company.