If you are looking for hope for holiday hurts, or any other hurt, I think you are going to like what you read.

But, before moving ahead, it would be good to remember, the way to peace is through right thinking about God.

“Don’t be anxious about anything, but pray about everything giving thanks to God. Think on what is true and honorable… Think on things that are excellent and worthy of praise and practice these things. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 (paraphrased).

We can’t always remove the source of our hurt, but we can always discover the God of peace through our pain.

A CHRISTMAS STORY
The tree is up, the lights are strung, the manger scene is set in place, and the music we sing at church all announce, it’s Christmas time.

Sue is filled with anxious excitement. Her husband’s family is coming to their house for Christmas dinner. She’s decided on serving up a Christmas ham just the way her mother used to bake for Christmas.

THE BOMB
Three days before the big dinner, John sees the ham in the freezer and says casually, “Babe, my dad doesn’t eat ham.” Sue stands in silent shock. John smiles a smile of, “I’m sorry”, and heads off to work.

Sue’s feeling of anxious excitement turns into a mixture of frustration and fear.

She wonders silently, Why is he just now telling me this? Now, I don’t know what I am going to serve and I only have three days to figure it out.

Later when John returns, Sue’s frustration and fear have morphed into a mild anger, “If I had known that Mr. Picky Pants hates ham I wouldn’t have planned on baking a ham”, Sue, states sarcastically.

THE SOLUTION
Situations like Sue’s happen all the time and people get over it and people move on. But what if the goal isn’t to “get over it” or to just “move on”? What if the goal is to experience the God of peace in your hurt? It is!

Whether your hurt is as mild as Sue’s, or something horrible, the path to peace is through thinking rightly about God. When you trust that God is with you, and that His grace is enough for you, peace appears, peace that surpasses comprehension.

Step 4: Rethink Your Thoughts

What are you feeling, thinking, and choosing? Sue is feeling anxious, frustrated, and a bit angry. She is thinking, “Now, I only have three days to figure out what I’m going to serve.” And, I’m guessing she’s thinking John should have told her that his dad doesn’t eat ham when she started planning the menu. And, I bet she’s choosing to nurse her frustration.

If Sue wants to heal her hurt she’ll have to rethink her thoughts and make different choices.

But rethinking can be tricky because it often requires working through layers.

Rethink to get unstuck—Layer #1

 

If Sue is really fretting over what to serve in a limited time, rethinking looks like this:

  1. I can and will by God’s grace figure this out.
  2. I have limited time.
  3. Fretting over what John should have done isn’t helping our relationship or to solve the problem.
  4. I will:
    • Go on the internet to find an alternative menu.
    • Forget the home-cooked meal and order carry-out.
    • Stick with my original plan and serve a side of chicken for John’s dad.

Sure, some options are better than others, but the important thing to remember is that by God’s grace you can figure it out.

Rethink to get unstuck—Layer #2

This level of thinking is difficult. It is difficult for me.

What if what’s bothering Sue isn’t that she only has three days and that John should have told her sooner about his dad’s dislike of ham?

If Sue doesn’t get honest with herself about her source of angst she will never get unstuck. If Sue does not get to the source of what hurts it won’t matter what she cooks for Christmas dinner because she’ll be serving up stuffed frustration with a side of sarcasm. 

But if Sue does the hard work and rethinks her feelings and thoughts she can settle on a solution that honors her desires and honors her father-in-law. This kind of thinking brings peace and joy.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Agree with God: I can and I will admit what is truly bothering me.

Sue confesses to herself, I am sad. I had my heart set on having a Christmas ham just like my mother used to bake. I could smell the smells of Christmases past. I had all the happy feelings that went with growing up in my home. I could hear John bragging on my cooking like my dad used to brag on my mom.”

Often, the moment we admit the truth of our hurt, we feel a sense of freedom. The truth has a habit of setting the captives free.

  1. Confess that with God’s help: I can and I will make honorable, right, and praise worthy choices.

What would that look like for Sue? She can tell John, “Honey, I’m sorry for making you feel like this was all your fault.” She can tell John what she was really feeling and thinking.

Sue can make a decision that is a win-win for everyone: She can stick with her original menu and serve a side of chicken for John’s dad.

Step 5: Turn Your Thinking into Actions

Don’t just think praise worthy thoughts. Do praise worthy things. 

Taking that bold step to admit the truth and to practice praise worthy behavior opens the door for the God of peace to come in.

Now, it’s your turn. What are you feeling? What are you thinking? What are you choosing? If it does not bring you peace it is time to rethink your thoughts and make great choices.

I pray you find Hope for what hurts this Christmas.