I love to observe people, especially in a shopping mall. This Christmas of course the malls have been hectic and tempers have fried by the disappointment of a perfume being sold out or the oh so important present that seems illusive. Husbands and wives have heated conversations over what Aunty Dot does or doesn't like. Boyfriend and girlfriend disagree over the colour of scarf that they want to buy for the girlfriend's mother. A small child is creating havoc with a display because they are fed up and want something to eat. The mother pulling her hair out as she tries to disengage her son from the jewelry that is hanging close by to his pushchair.
You've seen it all, the noise, the chaos, the mess, the stress, the anger, the frustration, the walking off. And when you get home you open a Christmas card that says, 'Hope you have a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.' Yeah right!
You think that it cant get worse and then you receive a phone call. The mother-in-law is coming and you haven't spoken to her in years. The last time was when she criticized your burnt roast potatoes, over cooked turkey and watery gravy. This after you had bent over backwards being nice and accommodating for several days already as she had came early to visit. You are egging your husband on to say 'no' but of course he doesn't. Your heart drops, and you feel that that is the end of Christmas.
It could be. But there is an alternate solution. No it is not to go on holiday away from the family! Maybe the impending arrival of the mother-in-law however upsetting is an opportunity to put Grace into action, and not any Grace, but God's Grace through Forgiveness. Firstly those hurtful words, the ungrateful taking without giving, the judgement that you felt burning into your every actions.
So your adversary is coming. Time to start actively praying.
1. Thank God for this person, because God loves them.
2. Bless the life of this person.
3. Pray into the visit. eg ask God to take over and to create an hospitable environment for both of you.
4. Pray for a break through with both of your personalities.
5. Pray that words, spoken and unspoken will be encouraging and all embracing.
6. Pray for God to bless the visit and to help you cope with whatever happens.
7. Pray that you will not allow your feelings to take control.
8. Pray for forgiveness, for yourself that you can forgive your mother-in-law (or who ever you are at odds with) for her treatment of you, and for yourself because you allowed it to take away your peace. If you think that you cannot do this then ask God to help you to forgive the person.
When they are staying with you, each morning and evening bless and thank God for them, no matter what has happened during the day.
If a criticism is thrown at you, place the Cross of Christ between you and the criticism. You can imagine the Cross and stand behind it. Pray, eg Father I thank you for (name) protect me from their words and give me the strength not to take them on board. Please heal the lies that are being spoken. I do not accept this criticism into my life. Father restore me and give me Your peace.
I hope that this is helpful.