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Holidays and Family Reunions continued

Next, be sensitive to the fact that probably many of your family members are feeling pain and hurt just as you are. They need grace, compassion and mercy extended to them as much as you do. Of course, there will be those who seem calloused to your pain, but keep in mind this is most likely a facade to cover up their woundedness, fears and insecurities. Even perpetrators of abuse need forgiveness and love, although some may never repent or give love in return. Pray for these family members to find God’s forgiveness and grace (Psalm 65:1-4).


Avoid holiday activities and topics of conversation with your family that are known to cause difficulty. Instead be creative and develop some new pastimes and traditions which will enhance relationships and defuse old stressors.


If the reunion is to last a couple of days, be sure to allow yourself time to be alone. Do something just for yourself which is not group or family oriented. You may wish to use this time to rest, take a walk, read, soak in a hot bath, etc. This will revitalize your energy for more positive interaction when you rejoin the family.


At the end of each day, reflect back on what has happened and prayerfully determine if your own behavior and attitude have detracted from, or enhanced, family relationships.  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective,” (James 5:16).


Humanly speaking, it will be difficult to apply these principles. You may have valid reasons to be concerned about reunions with toxic family members. Determine that this holiday season can be different for you. Prayer can be a powerful ally in your endeavor. Read these Scriptures for encouragement: II Chron. 6:19, 39; Prov. 15:29; Matt. 21:22; Rom. 12:12; and Phil. 4:6.


If you follow through on one or more of these tips, you’ll feel better about yourself even if your family system never changes. Remember.  You can’t change anyone but yourself! But you can change your own actions and learn to respond rather than react in difficult situations. Any genuine effort directed toward healing and recovery is demanding and tedious. However the joy of accomplishment as you see growth in yourself, and hopefully in your family relationships, will be worth the pain and struggle (Jer. 17:14).


Family reunions don’t have to be a terrible time of anxiety and depression. As we keep Christ’s teachings in mind, we put Him first, and we introduce a godly focus into the family gathering. Even though it will take considerable effort, in Christ there is potential for your holidays to be less stressful and more satisfying.       Selah.


Copyright 1996, El Rophe Center, Inc.

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