Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
(Romans 12:2, NLT)
Friend to Friend
There I stood in the middle of my living room, stomping my foot on the ground like a four-year-old who was told she wouldn’t get the gift she wanted on Christmas morning. But I wasn’t four. And it wasn’t Christmas morning. Nope, I was a cranky middle-aged woman decorating the Christmas tree with one snippy word after another escaping from my mouth, a clear sign that my heart was stirred up and needed attention (Luke 7:45).
My eldest daughter noticed and had the courage call me out. To my dismay, I confessed, “I hate Christmas. It brings back the hardest memories.” Her look of disbelief matched mine as she pressed further, “Mom, how is it that the last twenty years of raising us and making memories together is not enough to outweigh the hard from your past?”
Can you relate to this struggle as you consider the times you wish you were joyful but instead your heart was filled with unwanted emotions? I imagine that is how the apostle Paul felt when he urged the Romans to be careful how they were living by taking hold of their thought life. He wrote: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NLT).
Paul certainly had experience in copying the behaviors and customs of the world he lived in, persecuting Christians before God removed the scales from his eyes and commissioned him to be a messenger of the Gospel. No doubt that his familiarity with the ways of the world and the radical transformation he experienced gave him the courage to challenge the Romans to become the people God intended and to uncover His good, pleasing, and perfect will. The same is true for us – at Christmastime and every other day of the year.
But the question is whether or not we’ll let God work in us, even with the things that trigger past memories. Yes, we have a choice. I certainly did at the moment of my outburst when I picked up that ornament from my childhood and it reminded me of all the holidays marred by fights and discord. I could have continued to focus on the pain, but instead I ran to the Lord with my hurting heart and asked God to use even this to help me see His work with fresh eyes. My pain would not define my story because the cross accomplished more for God’s glory.
Consider Paul, again. He went from a persecutor of the Church to a disciple-maker for Christ! From lost to found! From blind to seeing the hope of Jesus with full technicolor vision. God transformed Paul from what he was to who he was still becoming. God is able to do the same for us.
From hurting to healed.
From lonely to loved.
From abandoned to adopted.
From rejected to redeemed.
There’s no need for us to dread this holiday season, or any other occasion that brings up bad memories. God can and will use these opportunities to draw us nearer to Him and show us a new way forward. When we ask God for a new perspective, He will give it to us. He will change our thinking and thereby our living to line up with His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
No, change may not happen overnight, but it can happen over time.
Dear Lord, thank You for creating a way for us to heal from the past pain without forgetting it, and grow through yielding the hardest parts of our lives to You. Make us mindful of the patterns that we fall into, and show us how we can choose a new way by inviting You to transform the way we think and live. Show us, God, what your good, perfect, and pleasing will is for us today.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Would you be willing to commit to setting aside 10 minutes this week to meet with God and lay before Him those triggers you know will come your way over the holidays? Click comment and let us know “I’m in!” and we’ll pray for your time to be healing and life-changing!
Who can you reach out to and ask, “How are you doing this holiday season?” Maybe you can even share this with a friend and confess if you’re struggling, asking for prayer to support you in putting the trap and transform principle into practice.
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