Back in October, I had the privilege of meeting a new friend. I think we ended up at the same table for a meal at Allume one day – and then, we found out our rooms were next door to each other in the hotel! I met a great, godly FRIEND that day – and I am excited to introduce my friend Davonne to you today! She has a passion for the Lord, her family, and ORGANIZATION (which you will be hearing more about in 2015- as well as hearing about her amazing BOOKS!) So, please, welcome with me Davonne, as she talks about dealing with those difficult relatives during the Holidays!
Dealing With Difficult Relatives During the Holidays
We work hard to decorate our homes and make or purchase gifts, then we spend days lovingly preparing food, serving, and trying to make the holidays a special time for our loved ones.
But what happens when our gifts or food – our love offerings – are rejected or ridiculed?
It hurts, for one.
It’s enough to make a person want to crawl into a hole and hibernate until the holidays are over and everyone has returned home.
And as tempting as that little hibernation hideout may sound, there are a few things we can do to make those gatherings easier:
1) Have realistic expectations.
My husband once told me, “Expect from someone what they’ve shown you to expect in the past.” When he offered that advice, I had a huge aha moment as things started clicking together in my mind.
And while sometimes ungratefulness from others comes as a shock and catches us off-guard, nearly knocking us off our feet, there are a lot of times that we can expect it.
2) Try not to take it personally.
When someone responds negatively to you, realize those words or actions ultimately have nothing to do with you and everything to do with the condition of the other person’s heart.
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 (NKJV)
3) Respond Kindly.
Don’t fuel fire with more fire! Douse it out with love.
While responding with love won’t necessarily make the other person realize the error of their ways, it will keep your own conscious clean. Like my mama used to say, “It takes two to tango.” If the other person wants to tango, then let them dance alone.
It’s also important to remember that we only see the outward behavior. We don’t always see what goes on behind the scenes to know what another person may be going through. We can retaliate or we can be compassionate. Let’s choose compassion.
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:20-21 (NKJV)
4) Pray for those who hurt you.
It’s not always easy, but love their soul more than you dislike their unkindness. Ask God to help the other person see your heart and ask Him to help you love that person like He does.
“Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)
5) Set healthy limits.
If there’s a relative who’s particularly unkind to you, you can join with family for an afternoon or even for a day, but don’t feel like you have to participate in a week-long gathering.
Likewise, if someone ridicules your gifts or food every year, consider graciously bowing out of the gift exchange and make sure that if you’re serving meals, you’re doing it out of love and not out of obligation or desire for approval.
6) Protect your family.
While we should gather together when we can and while we do need to treat others with kindness, if there is someone at an event who’s putting you or those within your own household in danger, then stay away. Period.
7) Nurture yourself.
When you feel emotionally worn-down after a gathering, give yourself the gift of time. Watch a good movie, read a magazine or book, take a warm bath, drink a cup of hot tea in your favorite mug, or do something else that relaxes and refreshes you.
8) Implement the lessons you’ve learned.
Many times, if we look deeply enough we can get peeks into people’s pasts that contribute to them being the way they are.
Allow your difficult experience to become motivation to diligently nurture relationships with your own children as you strive to teach them kindness, gratefulness, generosity, and love.
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV)
Gatherings are rarely picture-perfect and not everyone is always completely kind. But when we choose to be pleasant with our words and actions, we’re honoring God while keeping ourselves pure. Plus, at the end of the day, we can bid others farewell and sleep peacefully with a clean conscience.
“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 4:5 (NKJV)
Davonne Parks believes that some of life’s richest moments happen when we embrace the beauty of imperfection as we extend grace to ourselves and others. She and her husband, Nathan, have two sweet daughters, Lily and Grace. Davonne has written three inspiring eBooks, and she blogs about organization, simplicity, and heart-filled motherhood. Davonne also offers free personalized virtual-organizational tips and fun rewards as part of her popular brand-new Get Organized challenge.