Jackie Kendall Hope Alert! Did You Keep “Happy” In the Holidays?
I love holidays, lots of holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day because I love to decorate and cook and wrap gifts and do all those special things that make a holiday most memorable for my loved ones. But in my pre-holiday zeal, there is one important thing I can tend to forget. I forget to prepare my heart for the potential of disappointment and offense.
Inevitably, I am outwitted by the same relative who repeats offensive behavior during our festive celebration. I can have my house decorated just as I imagined and have the food all turn out perfectly. I can even go with the flow if a glass breaks or the gravy’s lumpy! But then I forget to remind my heart that life is always more chaotic than predictable. What I have learned the hard way is that I need to leave room for this much-anticipated event not to be the "perfect ten" I dreamed of, but an acceptable "five." I need to be realistic that even on a precious holiday like Christmas; I may need to forgive someone I love for doing something that offends me.
When we expect perfection, what happens when we have a day that’s more of a five than a ten? If we don’t monitor the expectations we hold on to for any given day or event or relationship, the hazard is that they’ll morph into something much more sinister than mere expectations. They actually become pre-meditated resentments! Our high, often unrealistic expectations of life, family, love, career, and purpose really function as subtle preparation for offense. Expectations actually exacerbate our vulnerability to being offended.
Your holiday preparations need to include the emotional care of your own heart in anticipation of the inevitable need to forgive again and to pray for blessings on the very people who’ve offended you. Here’s the fact: if there are human beings attending a holiday event, offense will happen! It may be a harsh word, a callous judgment, a clash of tempers, or even the clash when sulking silence meets brooding melancholy.
So, here’s a safeguard against the hazard of pre-meditated resentments: As you prepare to go to an event, especially one where you were previously offended, and you accept its potential as a five, if it turns out to be an eight, you'll leave feeling as if you actually received a bonus! Harnessing our expectations, you and I can to keep "happy" in our future holidays.