On Monday I told the story of how the New Years’ celebrations in my home as a child were – for me anyway – HORRIBLE! And all because of chain smoking guests who refused to smoke outside.
I remember that even after my uncle and his family left, usually around 1:00 AM, I could still smell the tobacco very strongly in the house. It would take days for the smell of smoke to disappear, and my eyes would be watering and my nose would be running the entire time. Nonetheless, it felt so good to not have to breathe their fresh smoke.
Unfortunately, when I woke up the next morning, there was more bad news. We would all go to my grandmother and grandfather’s house to celebrate New Years’ Day.
Why was that bad news?
Not because I didn’t like my grandparents. No, I loved them very much. The problem was that all of the extended family would be there as well, and the entire family, with the exception of my grandmother, smoked. In my mind, my grandmother’s house wouldn’t be a house anymore. It would be a smoking Buddha!
Fortunately for me and my cousin from my mother’s side of the family, my grandmother had a yard and an empty garage. We would escape the house as soon as we were allowed, and we would play in the yard and garage until the adults forced us to come in. Then, of course, we had no choice but to go back into that smoky house where I would just become sicker and sicker.
Finally it would be time to leave. By this time, however, our clothes were so covered in cigarette smoke that even our car smelled. And naturally, our apartment still smelled of smoke from the night before…
Would it ever stop?
I could rest assured, however, that it was over, and as soon as the apartment was adequately aired out, I wouldn’t have to be in that situation for another entire year…
I often wonder if my family even realized how much I suffered at those family gatherings, whether or not they realized that their habits turned an otherwise festive occasion into a nightmare for me…
That makes me wonder as well: How often do MY habits affect other people? No, I don’t smoke; but we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. I am sure that there are things I habitually do that make other people crazy as well! And as I think about this, I realize that I don’t ever want to do anything that will make someone else miserable.
As I think about the upcoming New Year, I am drawn to make a New Years’ resolution: to do everything in my power to not make those around me miserable in any way.
After all, isn’t this what the Bible means when we are told to love one another? “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:38 ESV); and “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (1 John 3:11 ESV). This is, in fact, the golden rule, isn’t it? ““So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 ESV).
Would you join me this year in resolving, with the help of God, to practice this golden rule and to truly love one another as you? Remember that love, “…does not insist on its own way…” (1 Corinthians 13:5b ESV)
In His Love,
(To access the entire “New Year? Horrible!” devotional series, please click here.)