It’s once again the season for celebrations and family get-togethers. For some, it’s a time of peace and joy, and for others, it’s a dreaded time of family drama and frustration. Of course, it doesn’t have to be all peace and joy or all drama and frustration, but there is often a mixture when families come together.
What usually happens when your families spend time together? Do you have tension? Do others make hurtful comments? Do you find yourself throwing some verbal jabs because of some long-lasting conflict that has never been addressed?
Family conflict has great potential to be damaging not only to relationships with extended family, but also within marriage. It can turn potentially joyous gatherings into near-torture experiences quite easily. So, my question to you, if there is conflict looming over the upcoming holiday festivities, is simply, “what are you going to do about it?”
It would seem that you have about 3 options:
1. Continue to ignore the elephant in the room and continue on as usual (continuing the stress and potentially missing out on at least some joy this holiday season).
2. Make a choice to let go of the control <insert situation here> has on you and act lovingly in spite of what others say or do.
3. Make a choice to lovingly address the situation and discuss the elephant in the room.
I know I’ve written several articles before about communication and the positive outcome that may be had as a result of being loving and respectful when discussing conflict, so I don’t feel the need to revisit that today, but I do want to leave you with a final question.
What is the conflict worth to you?
If you step back from the situation and decide (with prayer) that you can reduce tension and conflict by taking yourself out of the fight (refraining from verbal jabs, responding lovingly or ignoring stinging comments, etc.), then do so.
We read in Romans, 12:18, (NIV) “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
You are not expected to MAKE everyone live at peace with one another. It’s not possible. What you are expected to do is YOUR part to keep the peace. Be loving and compassionate.
If the situation is troubling enough to you that you can’t look past it and feel the need to respond, pray (preferably together with your spouse) prior to addressing the situation, asking for wisdom and guidance about how to proceed.
While you may have 3 apparent choices, continuing with the destructive pattern of conflict, drama, and tension isn’t going to help anyone involved. Just remember that each person is going to have different personalities, different attitudes, different experiences, etc., and while it may be nice at times for everyone to be on the same page, we’re all human. There will be misunderstandings, hurt feelings (even if not all parties know WHY there are hurt feelings), and poorly handled circumstances.
Step back,ask God for guidance and wisdom, and proceed lovingly and compassionately. It’s a recipe for a happier holiday season!
Keri Kitchen is a devoted wife and mother, blogger, author of Love Isn’t Selfish, licensed mental health counselor, and founder of The Carys Rainn Foundation. To read more about what God is doing in her life, visit her blog at www.aftertherainn.com