Monday, November 19, 2007

Holiday Freedom

Even though I have without a doubt the best in-laws in the world, we aren’t traveling to see the Hickmans this year, a decision that was difficult to make but with one too many ministry obligations, we had to bow out. Bowing out can cause guilt to set in, if you allow it.

For many years, my spouse and I experienced great guilt around the holidays, so much so that we started dreading the holidays almost immediately after Halloween had passed. We were supposed to be at both in-laws home on the exact day and at the exact same hour—noon—or else we were horrible folks.

We sang the Thanksgiving song with our children, “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go,” but all the while there was a knot in the pit of my stomach. I knew that for every minute I lingered at my husband’s family’s home beyond the noon hour, my own mother paced, looking out the window for us to drive up.

My sons are coming of age, meaning the marrying age. My hubby and I have already filled up the holidays with giving outside of ourselves, so much so, that hopefully when our boys take on their own families, if they come home they may join us in our ministry endeavors and if not, we have families outside of our own who need encouragement.

Holiday Freedom is steeped in scriptural truths. Jesus came to lighten our yokes, to set the captives free, to break the bondage of sin off of us; yet we Christians, because of the very nature of family togetherness that we tout, allow it to weaken the very courage and forthrightness we proclaim throughout the rest of the year. Family enablement is not only complicated but unhealthy.

Holidays should be a time of mirth and Thanksgiving; families should gather around the love and freedom that they share in Christ. We should also share that joy with family members who might sense that joy in us and be drawn to it. But if we are forced into some habitual mold designed by someone else for us, it’s going to feel awkward because we were not made to wear the yoke of anyone but our Creator who died fitting it just so lightly.

This week we are joining our church family in some good works and then taking our sons to the mountains. It’s becoming a tradition for us, but one they do not have to follow when they leave us and cleave to their own wives. Expectations ought to be as flexible as God’s grace. I’m thankful for grace.