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What to do When Your Family is Ruining the Holidays

As the holidays approached this year, I kept having the same conversation with friends and family over and over again. The conversation, vastly simplified, was this:

My family is stressful. It’s hard to be around them. Honestly, I would rather not go to my family holiday get-togethers this year. I’ll go but it will be begrudgingly and I will stay as disengaged as possible.

I can absolutely sympathize with each of the people I had this conversation with. All of them had legitimate and undesirable family dynamics that did make holiday events difficult. The last thing I want to do is to minimize the pain or the heartache involved in familial woes. But I also don’t think that (in most cases) throwing the cousins out with the bathwater is the correct response. And here’s the reason why: your defunct and dysfunctional family needs fresh God-life breathed back into it and you are God’s primary vessel to accomplish this work.

This Christmas, your family desperately needs Jesus at the center of the room.

Here is the truth: Holidays can be really hard with our family members. Many of us may even dread the time we have to spend with them. But what if we looked at this time through a different lens and with a different perspective? We have a few ideas to help you survive the holidays when your family is ruining them!Can you imagine it? Jesus, the savior of the world, God with us, beheld by every person present. And how will Jesus get here? He’ll send an ambassador. He’ll send YOU.

In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself…and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20

You’ve been entrusted with God’s message of reconciliation and if there’s any place where he without a doubt wants you to share that message it is with the people that he placed in your family. He has practically assigned them to you!

You are an ambassador for Christ. An Ambassador is a representative of a sending party that is sent to live among or reside with a receiving party. You are God’s resident representative of the gospel to your relatives. And as such, you have the privilege and the burden of speaking God’s truths faithfully no matter the tensions that arise. Ambassadors don’t take holidays off. Until their term is done, they are always on a mission to represent well the one who sent them.

Let’s say you’re in the car, even right now, on the way to a Christmas dinner where you know some if not all of the persons there live a life devoid of a relationship with God. How can you be a representative, an ambassador of God’s message of reconciliation once you arrive? 

There are 3 ways:

  1. Go in Prayerfully. You’ve taken time to prepare side dishes and desserts, but have you taken time to prepare your heart? You’ve asked for Christmas wish lists, but have you asked God what he desires from you on this night? Stop and pray, ask God to soften your heart to his voice and his will for this night.
  2. Listen Carefully. You know the distant relative that you see only a few times a year? What if instead of giving them an awkward hug and avoiding them for the rest of the night you asked them to tell you about themselves? What if you went beyond the surface level questions you ask your cousins every time you get together and then you really listened to what they have to say? 

Jesus didn’t stand at a distance and toss pebbles of truth at people, he walked right up to them and then he listened. Engage with and listen intently to your family!
  3.  Speak Courageously. When (not if) the Holy Spirit prompts you to present the gospel, encourage with life-giving truth or invite someone to church, speak those words with courage and conviction. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says that God makes his appeal through us and that we should implore people to be reconciled to God. It may feel weird, but truly it’s the most natural thing in the world. Your family was created to be in a relationship with God, so speak up and speak out!God’s will for your family is healing and freedom through a relationship with him. And God’s will for you is that you would be a truth bringing, light-bearing ambassador for him. Let’s not waste another minute moping about where we’re going or who we’ll be with this holiday season. Let’s lean into God’s will and walk boldly into each and every family get-together!  Blessings, Shelby Turner

Shelby Turner is a stay-at-home-mom, speaker and writer who lives in Kansas City, Missouri. She is all about helping women kick the pursuit of a picture-perfect life to the curb and inspiring them to live a purposeful life instead. She founded The Gathering, a bold, no fluff monthly event that connects women with God in a real way. She’d love for you to follow along with her on Instagram or connect with her on her website!

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