2015 – December Growing Forward – Home for the Holidays

Is your heart prepared to go home for the holidays?

Going home for the holidays can often bring a mixed bag of feelings: the excitement of fond memories to be made, as well as the stress of certain relational dynamics. When you are packing your bags this year, also think about what you need to put into your heartto be prepared for the “drama” you may encounter when you get there or when family comes to you.

Every family has its “Holiday Play.” If you really think about it long enough, you can rehearse in your mind what various scenarios will happen with certain people at certain times regarding certain things. While you can’t control what other people will be doing, you can control how you choose to react to it. Your reaction to anything says more about what is going on inside of you than what you are reacting to. Before you go home, or family comes to you, take time to think through the various scenes that may be acted out in your family holiday play. You likely know the “lines” of each family member. Do you need to change your “lines” in response to theirs?  Keeping the welfare of your heart in focus, ponder how you can best respond to these roles your family members may play?

The Advice Giver: If someone is prone to give you advice, will you get defensive, or will you say, “Thank you for sharing that, I will take some time when I get home to think through what you’ve said.” Then, do what you feel God is leading you to do. Keep in mind you only have one God in your life, and that best not be mom or dad.

The Critic:  If someone is critical of you, will you lash back or will you respond to your own heart as an ally? Others may be your critic, but you can still be your gardener.  Remember, your brain only listens to you. You ultimately decide what you tell yourself no matter what others say or do. Touch base with your heart and see what you need. You may even find yourself needing to write yourself an ally letter or simply say to yourself something like, “Heart, I am sorry you had to hear those hurtful words. I am here for you and I am for you no matter what others say. You are okay by me.”

The Rager: If someone breaks out in an angry rage, will you get angry back, or withdraw, or will you say, “I see you are angry right now. I am going to go in the other room and if you get to a place where we can have a calm conversation about this, let me know.”

The Bragger:  This person, perhaps a sibling, will only be able to get to you if you feel you have something to prove. If you are okay with yourself, you don’t have to “one-up” them. Remind yourself of your own worth and value. Then you can say, “I am happy for you for that accomplishment.” Or, “Congratulations.” Or, “I am glad things are going well for you.”

The Black Sheep: Maybe with the gardening skills you have now, you will be able to be someone who can listen with love and understanding. There is a reason that person became the black sheep, and your acceptance of them as a person, without having to approve of their behavior, could be a turning point for them, and you!

The Alcoholic: Boundaries with an addict look something like this. “I care about you, but if you choose to continue drinking and acting like this around me and my family, we are going to have to change our plans.” The key with an addict is that you do not try to get them to change their behavior, but allow them to make their choices. However, you make it clear what your choices will be should they choose to continue their poor choices. Just be prepared to follow through on what you say!

The Downer: This can be a difficult person to be around, especially when you want to enjoy the holidays. The tendency with this person is to try to cheer them up, fix their problems or dismiss their concerns. Often times this person is just needing validation. When they get it, they may not feel the need to keep looking for it. Validation might sound like, “I am sorry things are so rough for you right now.” Or, “I could see why that is hard for you.” “That does sound depressing.” If you are honest with yourself, you don’t want someone trying to get you to look on the bright side when you are feeling down.

The Controller: A person can only be controlled if they let someone control them. We teach people how to treat us. You may not have had a choice as a child when someone controlled you, but you do as an adult. Children are at the mercy of the way things are, but adults get to decide the way things are going to be. The key is healthy, appropriate boundaries. Remember, a person can’t cross your boundary if you have one.

Practice Makes Permanent! Rehearse your new lines before “curtain time” and the family drama begins. Remember: You can‘t change others, but as you change, others around you will have to change. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23


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