Christmas wasn't always a happy time at my house. When we were all together, there would be arguments. I didn't know why. But the arguing made me afraid and unhappy. These feelings kept me from enjoying the good that must have been there, especially the many things my mom did to make our Christmas a good one.
I ached for what I thought would be a perfect family and a perfect Christmas celebration. You know, just like the Christmas you see on TV - lots of smiles and laughter, with everyone happy.
Since I didn't know how to deal with the tension and my fear and sadness, I felt helpless. So I would shut down. I'd be very quiet and try to disappear.
One year I decided I could pray about my family and about our time together at Christmas. Then everything changed. Here's what happened.
I found out about Jesus and how he healed people. He had a wonderful relation to God. He knew that God was his Father. He had such a perfect trust in God's love for himself and for all of us. So when Jesus was faced with anything that was dangerous or ugly or sad, he knew God's love was there to change things. There just wasn't anything he couldn't heal or correct when he prayed to God.
I began to see that God loved me and everyone in my family. This woke me up. I had been thinking, "Everything about my family is terrible, and that's just how it is. There's nothing I can do about it."
But Jesus was showing me something different. Whatever wasn't like God, or like something my loving Father God would do, I could challenge. I could pray about it, just as Jesus did, and my family situation could be changed.
That's what I decided to do. I started early, well before Christmas one year, and prayed every day. Here's some of how I prayed.
I thought about how God was the Father of everyone in my family. That God loved each of us perfectly. That God was really the head of our family, and we were each obedient to Him.
God is Love. He made each of us to do His loving. So it was natural to be kind and generous and appreciative of one another. God would be showing us how to do this. We could love each other just as He loved us. And then we'd each feel loved and safe.
My prayers changed me. They changed the way I thought about everyone in my family. And when I started trusting God to love us and to take care of us, I wasn't afraid anymore. So when that particular Christmas came, I was different. I was free to be part of the fun and the loving.
That Christmas we had the best family time ever. There was peace, and we had fun together. Our Christmas times changed forever. Step by step we found more appreciation and love for one another, and were able to show this.
Everyone has times of trouble, hard things to deal with. But what Jesus showed is that we don't need to feel helpless and run away from problems.
God loves us. His love is a promise of good for us. And His love is a guarantee that He will show us how to deal with the hard things. God says,
Do not fear, for I am with you.
Do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you.
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
(Isa. 41:10, New Revised Standard Version)
A long time ago I memorized that Bible verse. It's a reminder that we can trust God to help us with whatever trouble we're facing.
Never ask for to-morrow:
it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)