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Dealing with Difficult People at Christmas

Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash

I know that Christmas can sometimes be a challenge with difficult family dynamics and hurtful things people say at times – whether it is unintentional or intentional. I’d love to remind us all that just because someone says something doesn’t mean that we have to engage in that particular conversation. We can say something to stop intrusive questions or unsolicited advice about our lives while still being respectful of others.

Inappropriate, and sometimes downright rude, questions from others are part of life whether we are single, dating, married, or when we have children. We can simply smile and respectfully say something (as God’s Spirit leads us) like:

  • “I love you, too. Thanks for caring about my happiness.”
  • “I’m really thankful for all that God has given me right now and I trust Him to lead me in this area.”
  • “Let’s talk about something else.”
  • “I’ll take your concerns into consideration.”
  • “So, how is your family/your husband/your mom doing?”
  • “I’m content in my life and in my relationship with God. There is no better place to be in the world.”
  • “How about we talk about you! What’s going on in your world these days?”

You could make a pleasant joke – humor can be really helpful in these moments! Or you can just change the subject completely. That is totally fine. You don’t owe an explanation about your decisions to anyone but the Lord, ultimately. And you don’t have to lash out at people even if they are rude.

Keep in mind that sometimes people will try to get you to honor the same priorities they have. You don’t have to do that. You don’t have to engage in a conversation about politics, or about how many children you should have, why you work or don’t work, why you choose to educate the children the way you do, or why your husband acts the way he does. You don’t have to take the bait. Also sometimes people ask questions that feel so hurtful to us but they truly think they are just being friendly and loving. They just don’t realize how they come across. You don’t have to agree with their assessment of your life or their criticisms of your decisions.

You can know in your heart that a close walk with Jesus is the most important thing in the world no matter what anyone else may say or believe.

Don’t let anyone pressure you or get you to engage in a pity party! Satan would LOVE to get you in a place of dwelling on negative thoughts, bitterness, resentment, envy, divisiveness, gossip, and/or strife. Recognize his strategy and refuse to let his tempting thoughts set up shop in your mind. Your value doesn’t come from having the perfect husband, the perfect house, the perfect children, the perfect career, or the perfect Christmas celebration.

Your value comes from the God who lovingly created you and who gave His Son to die in your place. You don’t have to have people’s approval – only God’s. 🙂  You don’t have to be chained to all of the world’s ways of doing things and cultural or family expectations. There is such freedom in realizing this!

You can be un-enmeshed emotionally/spiritually with other people. Just because they are upset or unhappy, doesn’t mean you have to be. Isn’t THAT great news?!?

You are responsible for your emotions and your spiritual well-being. They are responsible for their own. (If you have a very toxic family dynamic, it could be helpful to review what healthy vs. unhealthy relationships look like.)

I would love to encourage my precious sisters in Christ to:

  • Enjoy your family, friends, and time alone.
  • Don’t absorb any toxic messages, only the truth of God about yourself.
  • Weigh anything anyone says (even your own mind) against scripture.
  • Focus on positive and good Philippians 4:8 things no matter what your circumstances.
  • Lay down expectations of things being a certain way or of other people being a certain way.
  • Seek to love and bless those in your life.
  • Be flexible and able to roll with unexpected changes in plans and problems that may arise.
  • Spend time with God before seeing other people to get your spiritual bearings – and if you have especially dysfunctional people in your life, spend even more time with God preparing so that you can respond in the power of His Spirit not the flesh.
  • Shine for Christ to all those around you.
  • If you are facing trials, count them as joy, asking God what He would have you to learn and asking Him to prune and refine your faith, taking you deeper and closer to Him.
  • Be aware of ways that Satan wants to discourage you and the kinds of thoughts he may try to use to get you off balance, especially during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years’ if these are difficult times for you. Don’t let him catch you off guard. Be prepared to defend against his attacks with God’s truth.
  • Be open to ways God may want to use you to reach others with His love.
  • If you have a lot of time alone this week, spend extra time digging into your walk with Christ and seeking to grow closer to Him, or ask what ministry opportunities He may have for you.

Each of you are so very precious to God and so very precious to me. I am thankful for each one of you – here is my prayer for you:

Lord,

Let my sisters (and brothers) in Christ know Your love in a more powerful, tangible way today than ever before. Help them to look past the craziness and busyness of this world to the throne room of heaven from which You reign in complete sovereignty over the universe. Help them to rest in Your love for them and in Your goodness, Your perfect wisdom, Your timing, and Your good plans for them. Help them to long to know You more.

Give them a desire for Your approval that is far greater than their desire for people’s approval. Help them to stand strong against those who are critical of them this season. Let them have Your eternal perspective and Your love for everyone in their lives, even those who are difficult to love. Help them to develop a heart of thanksgiving and praise to You that continues each moment of every day. Let them truly experience more and more of the abundant Life You have already provided for each of us.

Let them stand firm in Christ, trusting You completely to lead them each day for their ultimate good and Your ultimate glory. And let them know they are deeply loved and cherished here and in the body of Christ. Help us all to really “get” that we are united and one together in Christ – that we are never alone. We are part of an eternal family of brothers and sisters and we are part of Your family if we are in Christ.

Amen!

SHARE:

What are some of the struggles you have around Christmas? What wisdom has God shared with you that may be a blessing to our sisters in Christ?

RESOURCES:

Control Girls and Family Christmas – by Shannon Popkin

Responding to Insults, Criticisms, and Rebukes

post by Leslie Vernick about dealing with toxic and critical people that may be a blessing.

The Snare of People Pleasing

 

Taking Our Thoughts Captive – a Peaceful Wife video

A Lightbulb about Loneliness

My Security and Identity Is in Christ

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