Christmas Comfort Zones

Certain elements of the Christmas season bring me warm, fuzzy feelings every year.  Colorful light displays.  Children’s Christmas programs.  Hot cocoa and family recipe cookies. My tree decorated with treasured ornaments.  I look forward to these traditions because they are tickets to temporary happiness in what is often a stressful time of social interaction.

As parties approach, I tend to fret about dealing with difficult people, especially ones who have deliberately hurt me in the past.  I have worked hard to forgive them and let the past be the past, but I don’t trust them not to hurt me again.  I’m tired of the Christmas battleground.  Part of me wants to retreat to my couch with my plush blanket and admire the tree lights in my quiet, peaceful living room.  That’s my Christmas comfort zone.

The problem is, my comfort zone doesn’t include people in my life who desperately need to see a living example of God’s grace.  Jesus wants me to get off the couch and rely on Him as my Prince of Peace while doing my best to showcase his grace, even to people who feel like my enemies at times.  Romans 12:18 says that as far as it depends on me, I must work hard to live in peace with others.  Especially at Christmastime, when all of us can use an extra measure of peace.

In his book “Vanishing Grace,” Philip Yancey writes about a meeting he had with Henri Nouwen, a priest who ministered to AIDS patients in the 1980’s.  As Nouwen stepped out of his comfort zone and listened to their stories, his viewpoint changed.  He prayed, “God, help me to see others not as my enemies…but rather as thirsty people.  And give me the courage and compassion to offer your Living Water, which alone quenches deep thirst.”

This Christmas, my desire is to step out of my comfort zone to give God’s grace and peace to thirsty people in my circles.  How is God calling you to step out of your comfort zone this Christmas?  Who are the thirsty people in your life?