This last Christmas season, we got to take a rest from school and work, eat nonstop at Christmas parties, and give gifts.
All these, of course, were done especially with our family. It’s a different story, however, when we hold grudges against relatives. Instead of becoming a jubilant celebration in cool December, Christmas brings a forced and cold get-together.
Erica Park (not her real name) is a junior college student. She disliked her parents for reasons we’re familiar with: “They were strict, and they failed to show their love for me. The hate that what I felt toward them resulted in apathy. I didn’t care what they would think or feel, so I started to do things my way. I decided to find freedom and love in bars and parties.”
Janica, a 19-year-old student, tells of a similar experience. “I rebelled against my parents because I disapproved of some of their qualities. I expressed my anger by getting addicted to vices, hanging out with the wrong crowd and not meeting my parents’ expectations.”
Janica’s rebellion broke her family up. “My hatred for my parents made me repel their love. I started to look for love, security, affirmation and comfort in other things and people. My rebellion also affected my relationship with my siblings, and how they treated my parents. My younger brother started to follow my example in treating them badly.”
Khukay, who’s taking up her MA, shares what she did to fill the void of not having a close family. “Escaping became my solution. I was never actually home. I spent time with friends, drank and smoked. I also had failed relationships. I saw my life as a big mistake, meaningless and with no direction. I blamed everyone for pushing me into the pit I was in. I tried everything to make me happy, but the path I chose always led me to destruction.”
Erica comments on the outcome of rebellion: “I looked for what I wanted in all the wrong places, and it just resulted in an even emptier feeling. They did give a measure of happiness, but I never felt contentment or real joy.”
Janica shares the turning point in her life. “I encountered God and began to understand how I was deeply loved by Him despite my imperfections. I realized that I should love my parents in a similar manner. I decided to honor and love my parents despite their qualities.”
After a change of perspective, action must follow. For Erica, the starting step involved humbling one’s self. “I believe the first step is to break down your pride and admit that you’re wrong. After that, you need to apologize, not just for the sake of doing so, but because you really desire reconciliation.”
Khukay believes that it takes a lot of courage to initiate such a reconciliation; however, we must overcome our fears and step out in faith.
A good first step is to genuinely love and honor your parents for who they are. “You have to understand that your parents are people like you, who commit mistakes and may even have a broken past or open wounds,” Janica says. “We may not be able to heal them or teach them to what’s right; however we can love, honor and pray for them.”
Even after deciding to be reconciled, we might still hold little pockets of anger due to unresolved experiences or force of habit. Janica advises finding a proper outlet to let it go.
“In any argument or misunderstanding, you need to have your own space and time. A time where you are relaxed and can think everything through without any distractions that could actually increase the anger or hurt you have been feeling. I would surrender my emotions to God first before I see my family again.”
Finally, there is moving forward and spending time with our parents, the way it should be. “I spent time with them,” Janica says. “I tried to make our relationship stronger, so we could be close and we would know more about each other. It’s easier to understand each other’s weaknesses and shortcomings when you get to know each other more. Everything else followed from there for me.”
Today, all three girls enjoy a peaceful life with their families. Erica says, “Before, we never said ‘I love you’ to each other. Today, we do. I now have my freedom—freedom from hurt and bitterness, and the freedom to be loved.”
Khukay talks about the new relationships in her life. “I began frustrated being a stranger to my family. Now I’ve established a relationship with my siblings. I’ve never been this close to them.” Janica tells how rich her life has become, “I cannot express how absolutely joyful I am! The love I’ve received is exceedingly great, and it cannot be replaced by anything or anyone.”
It has been told to us many times that Christ came to earth so that we could be reconciled with God. But He also came so we could be reconciled with one another. During this season, remember to reconcile with your family. That is the true spirit of Christmas.
PHOTOS BY KENNETH CHAN BONA