Jump Start # 3228
Proverbs 18:24 “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
The holiday season is upon us. As I write this, I have Christmas songs playing in the background. I’m one who could listen to those songs year round. So many great things happen this time of year. Holiday movies, Christmas cookies, the thrill of wrapping presents, and getting with family. Home for the holidays can be very delightful. But for some it is stressful. Some dread it. For some, it takes about all year to recover from such things. And, the reason for this is because of relationship issues. A survey asked if you could have one other person with you on a deserted island who would it be? More than half, 54%, chose a pet over another person.
And, home for the holidays is stressful because we do not pick our family. And for some, what a mess they are.
· The Never-Pleased-Dad who is never satisfied with what you do. Never one to give a compliment, he only sees the failures and mistakes in your life.
· The Constant-Nagging Mom who continues to treat you like a child, even though you are grown, married and have your own children. Negative is her only mood. She doesn’t like how you decorate your house. She doesn’t approve of how you are raising your children. And, to every meal, she brings a large heaping of guilt.
· The Name-Calling-Brothers who act as if they have never grown up. Teasing, ridicule and meanness is what they are all about.
· The Nit-Picking Sister who is the drama queen of the family. She majors in making mountains out of mole hills and getting into everyone else’s business. She won’t let things be still. She stirs, irritates, and projects her opinion on every subject. She creates problems where there are no problems. She’s all about herself. She loves to drop names, talk about who is kissing who in Hollywood and the latest fashions. Worldly, secular, and indifferent to everyone else, that’s the dear sister.
· The Nutty Cousin who doesn’t have a filter on his mouth or a moral bone in his body. He has been through so many marriages the family has lost count. He’s loud, opinionated and generally wrong on about every topic he brings up. He thinks he is an expert on religion, even though he hasn’t darkened a church building in decades.
· Neurotic grandpa who might say anything at any moment. He can be prejudice, narrow minded and rude all at the same time. He always wants to talk about politics, which no one else wants to listen to.
With such a mess, it’s hard to want to go home for the holidays. Some don’t. And what we must remember is that some people make no effort to get along. They expect you to agree with them. They want to share their opinion but they don’t care about what others have to say. Some change through the years and what we find is that we have very little in common with them. We may share the same last name, but that’s about it. And, some relationships are toxic and harmful. It’s like hugging a porcupine, there’s going to be a lot of pain doing that.
Our verse reminds us that friends are made by choices, family is not. There are some bonds we have spiritually that our physical family may not understand, appreciate, nor like. What can you do? You are expected to be there? You know it’s going to be bad. It always is. Stressful, strained, and toxic—what do you do?
First, realize that you cannot change grown adults. But neither do you have to give approval to sinful behavior. Establish boundaries and limits. I love the quote, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with dirty feet.” Dr. Henry Cloud’s book on establishing boundaries is a great place to begin. As the conversation swiftly turns to gossip, try to change the subject. What you are not comfortable revealing, don’t. Some people just want to know because they are nosey.
Second, continue to let your light shine. Speak well of the church and what the Lord has done for you. You might have meaningful conversations one-on-one, away from the noise at the table and all the chatter of things that do not matter. Talk to that teen and ask him how things are going. Remember to let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you.
Third, prepare for the trip by having a plan and saying a prayer. Talk to your kids about what might take place and prepare them. On the way home, try to find blessings to talk about.
I know families where nearly everyone is a believer in Jesus. What a wonderful blessing that is. I also know families in which only one person is a Christian and everyone else is everything else. It’s hard. But maybe God has placed in you situations like that to show Jesus. You might be the only person that shows Jesus to them.
Home for the Holidays—it can be tough. Make sure that you’re not the cause for someone to dread coming together.