Have you ever attended a potluck or dinner party or holiday party, and the dish you brought to share ended up being the one people ate the least?  Oh, it’s wonderful when your dish is wiped clean and everyone says, “Oh that was delicious!”  But what about when you tried a new recipe, it sounded so good to you because it was healthy and colorful, but no one touched it?  Do you quickly pick up your dish when no one is looking and head out the door, so the baker of the uneaten dish is a secret?

Have you ever been in a group where everyone is sharing, but when it’s your turn to talk, they all seem to be distracted and not even listening?  In fact, you’re talking and they’re walking the other way, so you just quit your story and walk away, as well…

Have you attended a holiday party where you were way under-dressed or way over-dressed?  Perhaps they said it as a holiday affair so you wore your sparkly earrings and bright red wrap, only to see that everyone else was casually dressed in jeans and maybe an ugly sweater.  Or…everyone is dressed to the nines and you feel frumpy as you arrive and catch a glimpse of the beauties before you…

Have you ever been to a gift exchange, only to realize that your gift really paled in comparison to the other gifts given?  There’s this sick feeling that comes to your stomach, but then a sigh of relief when you remember that no names were put on the gifts, so nobody will know…

Has your child been the one kid in the Christmas program that stood there and wouldn’t sing or decided to cry and run off the stage?  While other kids smiled for the all the photos being taken, you were socked hard in the chest by your child that’s now mad that you “made” him perform when he didn’t want to.

Have you thought and shopped hard for that perfect present, only to realize that person already has that item, or someone else gave them the same thing?  Your heart sinks, because you really thought you had it so right, this year.

Have you shown up at a family gathering and someone makes a remark that you’ve put on a little weight, or asks why your skin looks so dry?  Maybe that relative over there dominates your time and fills your ears with boring conversation.  Or you don’t feel like you fit in at all, and wish you weren’t there…

Have you been sitting around the tree with your family enjoying all the gifts, and then felt so disappointed at the gift he gave you – because it’s not you AT ALL? “How can he think I’d like this?” you query in your mind, as you try to keep your lips in a smile and say thank you, but you feel like you’re lying because you’re not glad about it one bit.

Have you worked tirelessly and selflessly shopping and cooking and cleaning, only to have someone fall sick or not show, or criticize or make a mess, or show up and not notice your beautiful home?  It hurts because you worked so hard, and it all fell so short…because life happened in disappointing domino falls.

I bet you can relate to at least one of the situations above, or have your own, where you were so disappointed, taken aback, or hurt at some event or person during family time when everyone’s supposed to be jolly and of good cheer.

The only way I know to avoid feeling sad at those kinds of disappointments – at the actions or inactions of others – is to remember to give to HIM in all that we do. It’s the same advice I gave my kids when they started working with a youth group at church.  As long as we obey and give out of a heart of thanksgiving and love to him, grateful for all of his love to us, the reaction of others toward us won’t sting as hard or linger as long.  It’s true.  Try it, this Christmas season as this one or that one speaks out of turn or walks away without a hug… Just look up and see the ONE that matters smiling down with a big thumbs-up.

Then leave in your car with that screaming kid or that uneaten food and purpose to laugh and be merry anyway, because it’s that time of year!

The Captain
3 Stressors
Have You
by Marcy Lytle

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