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I have a confession to make. There have been some years that I did not look forward to Christmas. I have some good Christmas memories and some not so good memories.

I grew up in a very dysfunctional family.  I remember coming home from Kindergarten one day and my Dad telling me, "Your Mother is in the hospital and you may not see her for a while.”

We didn’t see her for a year.

My Mom was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia and the holidays seemed to get her really stressed out. I knew there was going to be at least once where she would lose control and start yelling for no apparent reason.

During Bible College, I can remember driving home to Michigan from Oklahoma and asking myself “Why am I driving 900 miles just to get yelled at?” It seemed to me that she succeeded in ruining every holiday.

I know that pastors should not think this way. I loved my Mom. I prayed a lot for my Mom, but I was afraid of my Mom and I didn’t like being around her.

One day everything changed. My Mom didn’t really change, but my attitude changed.

In 1996, I was a Pastor of a church in Sarnia, Ontario Canada. My Mom lived in Troy, Michigan, about 90 minutes away. One Sunday morning my Mom came up to hear me preach. At the conclusion of the service I asked people to come up for prayer and my Mom came forward.

This was a really awkward moment for me as I thought about praying for my Mom. I am the pastor of the church. I am supposed to want to pray for people, but I didn’t know how to pray for my Mom. Here was this lady in front of me requesting prayer, who I was supposed to love, but I didn’t really like being around her.

As I gently touched my Mom’s forehead the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “She’s one of the fatherless.”

At that moment, instead of seeing my Mom, I saw a young girl in pig tails whose Daddy died when she was 12 years old and she never got over it. I saw my Mom the way my Heavenly Father sees her, as His little girl. Instantly the un-forgiveness was gone.

My relationship with my Mom has never been better than it is today. I knew I needed to forgive her, but I didn’t know how to forgive her. The neat thing about Father God is, not only does He tell us to forgive, but He gives us the power to forgive.

As Christmas approaches you may be traveling to see relatives who you don’t really want to see. Ask the Holy Spirit to let you see them the way Father God sees them. Purpose to be the one to let forgiveness flow through your family.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
(Eph. 4:32)

Copyright ©  Mark Harper Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Mark Harper
Web site: Mark Harper Ministries
Pastor and Leadership Coach, Mark Harper has 35 years of experience in the local church. He is the creator of the Super Church 2.0 Curriculum, which is used in over 5,000 churches worldwide. The focus of Mark's ministry is helping leaders build strong churches and helping parents build strong families. Not only has Mark served in the local church as pastor, associate pastor, and family ministry pastor but he is also a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team. He also recently released the Amazon Best Selling book The Red Book: The Lifeblood of Children's Ministry.

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