Over the next month, many of us will travel to see family and spend time with relatives. That can be an awesome thing; but it can also be a stressful thing. For so many of us, the Holidays are a reminder of what is broken in our family. There are certain relationships that we encounter during the holidays that we spend the rest of the year avoiding. I wanted to give you three things to help you go home for the holidays.
1. Don’t romanticize it. So often we set ourselves up for disappointment by romanticizing what our experience will be. We picture “It’s A Wonderful Life” when our family is more like the Griswolds in “Christmas Vacation”. Our expectations are for our family to be like it was when we were growing up, and often that just isn’t the case. So rather than prepare for reality, it is much easier to pretend things are like they used to be. When we arrive and they aren’t, we are devastated all over again. Coming to terms with some of the brokenness in your family before you get there may help you really enjoy your time with them when you arrive.
2. Remember that hurt people, hurt people. It is so easy at times to focus on the hurt that people cause us without remembering the hurt that those same people have encountered and endured. When a person is wounded in life, and they do not pursue healing, over time they begin to live out of that hurt. Their hurt begins to drive their life and damage their relationships. Maybe the hurt that your relative dishes out has very little to do with you, and more to do with the daily hurt with which they are living.
3. You are broken too. Some of the most miserable moments for me around my family have been those times when I’ve focused on all of their imperfections and forgot about my need for grace. I am broken too. I hurt people too. I am not easy to get along with all the time. When I am able to see my own brokenness and not just focus on all of the things that my relatives do that get on my nerves, I appreciate grace so much more. The truth is, the playing field is level…I need grace as much as any of them do. Remembering that truly makes me thankful.
These suggestions won’t solve all of your family dynamics this Holiday season…but they could change you.