Does your family get along well? Or is your family like my family is: people tolerate each other for the Holidays, but the rest of the year, contact is minimal.
It hasn’t always been that way. We used to have big holiday celebrations which included laughter and fun. Then Grandma died seven years ago. You see, Grandma left a property which was to be dispersed among the kids, but because of a fiasco with some lawyers, the money hasn’t been released.
To say the family is divided is an understatement. Aunts and uncles won’t overlook this. Instead, feelings run rampant- you took more, you have more, and we want ours. Sounds like a few kindergarteners on the playground at recess, doesn’t it?
What I find the saddest is: they’ve thrown out a relationship for riches. Memories for money.
I heard once that all families are messed up, is it true? Is your family messy?
When the Holidays hit, we might find ourselves in dysfunction. Butterflies, holding our breath, and anticipation of an early exit might be familiar feelings every Holiday.
How it must break God’s heart to see families acting this way. I’m not dismissing the dysfunction at all because I have it happening in my life too.
How do we overcome the Holidays?
Here’s the thing, when I did a google search for the holidays and family, a lot is written. In the sinful world, we live in, I’m not surprised, are you?
When it’s our own flesh and blood, isn’t the guilt we feel a little more evident?
We can rationalize if one of our friends makes us mad, so we cut off that relationship. When it’s our family, it’s’ harder to do. Guilt will be even more present because it’s family; family is “supposed” to be different.
Why do we treat those closest to us the worse? People we love the most are the people we are the most awful to.
Here’s what I found: “Tolerance for the things we’ve always disliked invariably diminishes over time” ~Alex Lickerman M.D.
If pain is part of the relationship, our tolerance level really goes down.
How do we survive the Holiday with Unlovable Family Members?
- Invite non-family over with the family. We act better and others act better when there is an audience present.
- Put up firm boundaries. No one should be disrespectful or intentionally hurtful.
- Focus on the good qualities of your family member. Can you think of happy memories with this person? How has this person blessed you in the past?
- If family creates too much stress for you, plan a celebration away from family this year. There’s nothing wrong with keeping yourself emotionally and spiritually healthy if family steals that from you.
- Decide on a shorter visit. Maybe family is fine for a while, then it all goes south. Make a plan to stay for a certain time period and then leave.
- Establish a set point if a conflict arises that will be your key to leave.
Dysfunctional Families of the Bible
Messed up families aren’t a new phenomenon, the Bible is actually full of them. The story of Jacob and his family was one of the problems.
3 Jacob[a] loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe.[b]4 But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him (Genesis 37:3-4, NLT).
When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. 19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. 20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams” (Genesis 37:18-20, NLT).
The brothers recanted their decision and instead sold Joseph to a caravan heading to Egypt. The loving brothers take his robe, rub blood on it, and then tell his father he was killed by a wild animal.
Years later when a famine is threatening the land, these same brothers stand before their brother, now an Egyptian government official, and ask for his help of food.
Dysfunction doesn’t have to be the destiny in our families.
If we can love those closest to us, with all their idiosyncrasies and faults, doesn’t that give us a springboard to love others outside the family?
God wants us to lovingly speak to those that have hurt us, to forgive them and show them, Jesus.
Our dysfunctional families can be a mission field to spread hope, encouragement, love, and the importance of Jesus.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NLT). 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Hurt people hurt people. That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future.― Yehuda Berg