Updated: Feb 13, 2020
The first 17 verses in the New Testament are skipped more than most. These list the generations of Jesus’ forefathers—kind of Ancestry.com for Jesus. But the laundry list of Jewish names is lost on western readers so they skip them. However, these verses offer the hope of joy for the adult child of divorce.
A closer look at Jesus’ family tree reveals good fodder for any TV drama. There’s murder, adultery, Joseph was not Jesus’ natural father (he was a stepfather—if you will), and Mary was pregnant with Jesus before she was married. In fact, when the religious leaders were trying to discredit Jesus, they sneered, “We are not illegitimate children.”* This is our Savior’s lineage.
Our family tree bush
I share this because celebrating Christmas can expose the kinks in our own family tree. Jen Abbas, author of Generation Ex: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain, commented, “I have a family bush instead of a family tree.”** When stepparents, boyfriends, girlfriends, and their families get grafted in, the bush becomes even more complicated. Unfortunately, the crooked branches can divert our attention from the reason for this season—Jesus’ birth.
For years I was distracted and couldn’t wait for Christmas to be over. The stress of pleasing competing family factions was draining. I didn’t communicate this, but it was my heart’s condition at the time. My focus was on the mess instead of the One who specializes in helping us with our messes. Can you relate?
What turns things around
Revisit past joys – I played a conversation starter game and “your favorite Christmas traditions” came up. While choosing what to share, my mind was flooded with joy-filled moments from childhood Christmases. It was a wonderful and new experience for me. Though very tough for some of us, many of you would be surprised what positive memories would surface if you looked past the pain to those joy-moments.
Seek joy in the present – We are richly blessed (in spite of the messes and our messes.) Celebrate the good things that are happening—both large and small.
Focus on the source of true joy – The shepherds were filled with joy. The angels who announced to the shepherds were filled with joy. The wise men were filled with joy all because the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, had come. According to those angels, this joy is for all.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”*** (Luke 2:10-11 ESV)
As you prepare for Christmas, reread and do the joy-starters I listed. Regardless of what others choose, allow Jesus to fill your heart with the joy of His birth this year.
*John 8:41 NIV
** “Surviving the Aftermath of Divorce,” FamilyLife broadcast (October 7, 2013), www.familylife.com.
***Luke 2:10-11 ESV
Christmas by Gerd Altmann, Pixabay
Virgin-Mary by Gordon Johnson, Pixabay