Family gatherings over the holidays: a survival guide

It’s that time of year. The holidays are here, and with them come family gatherings. You’ll probably mingle with relatives you haven’t seen in a while, maybe not for years.

And family gatherings can be a many-splendored thing. They can be sweet reunions, or you could be watching the clock on the wall praying for deliverance. I’ve had my share of both.

Here are a few thoughts that help me:

(1) Pray before you gather. For me, praying in the days leading up to a gathering really seems to help things go much more smoothly. I pray that God will be present and honored during the gathering, that he will guide our conversations and activities, that everyone will get along great, that God will protect those who are traveling, and so on. If it works in the context of the gathering itself, I will pray, inviting God into our conversation and into our lives.

(2) Determine to elevate the other person. Years ago, when I was young and dumb, I wanted to be the most important person in the room. Now I see that it works so much better if I can work hard to make the other person the most important person in the room. I’m not a sparkling conversationalist, but even I have learned a few things about asking others about the things that are important to them, and celebrating their wins with them.

(3) Don’t take the bait. Someone is probably going to say something offensive, controversial, political, or whatever. Take a step back, look at the big picture, and decide what the moment is really all about. Is it about winning an argument? Or is it about building a relationship?

(4) Use any negative feelings that come up for your own growth. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, something can still happen that leaves us feeling diminished, annoyed, hurt, or embarrassed. When that happens to me, I take those feelings to God. I get His perspective and His healing. In the end, I’m stronger and more at peace as a result.

Hope these thought help. Wishing you the very best as you gather with family and friends!


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