Wednesday, 13 December 2017 09:10

Tips for Getting Through the Holidays with Relatives

Written by  Candyce Anderson, LPC
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The holiday season is upon us.  A time for fun, fruitcake and family - our lovely relatives. Family ties form in many ways, whether by blood, marriage, adoption or the bond of life experiences such as military service, our college years or maybe a life-long friend.  While many of us light up at the thought of spending hours drinking hot chocolate and ogling old family photos, others of us become anxious at the idea of being around family members.


Reasons for this anxiety can vary from trauma, to disagreements or simply one’s inability to relate. Here are three tips to help you navigate.


You are an individual being.


Before your parents knew you, God knew ALL about you (Jeremiah 1:5). Is that not amazing? From each individual hair on your head to your unique fingerprint, you were divinely and uniquely crafted.  You are a masterpiece designed by the master architect.  You do not have to conform to pressure from family to be what they desire you to be.  God’s plan for your life is so individualized.  I’ll share a story with you.  My favorite professor during my time as an undergrad at Howard University once said this: We come through our family, not from them.  I was instantaneously freed by those words. Our parents are simply the vessel through which God brings us to the earth. Many of us who have less than ideal parental relationships fear that one day we will become our dysfunction. FEAR NOT, for God is close.



Observe, don’t absorb.  


When entering an environment that may be stressful or even in everyday situations, it is easy to become sponge-like and absorb interactions in our surroundings, especially unhealthy ones. Don’t be a sponge, be a rock.  The word “rock” is used 142 times in the Bible referencing God or Christ. Moses struck the rock. In Romans the rock was offense, and in Psalms the rock was refuge. In this instance, the rock will simply observe its surroundings and refuse to internalize them.



Set and maintain boundaries.


“You’ve gotta have boundaries.”  You may have heard this before or wonder what boundaries really are.  It is quite simple. Boundaries are the lines that determine where we end and where someone else begins.  Boundaries show others how to treat us and demonstrate what we will accept and what behaviors or treatments we will not tolerate.  The way in which we allow others to treat us can be tied to our self-worth or need for acceptance.  God has the perfect answer to this dilemma in John 5:41-44. We only need God’s acceptance and are not obligated to be people-pleasers. Such a lifestyle can lead us to develop an acceptance of God based on other people’s acceptance of us. With this slippery slope comes the belief that if others reject us, we have somehow been rejected by God.


May you experience joy, peace and God’s love this holiday season, In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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