Dysfunctional Disaster Holiday #HeartBreakHoliday

Inside: Does your family get along well? Or is it like my family, people tolerate each other for the Holidays, but the rest of the year contact is little?

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Dysfunctional Disaster Holiday #HeartBreakHoliday Truth and life about dysfunction during Christmas. How to deal with heartbreak, death, loss and sadness with our families around the Holidays. Quotes and Bible passages to help during this Season. #dysfunction #holidays #Christmas #sadness

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?

 Dysfunctional Functional Holiday

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 the pain is part of the relationship, our tolerance level really goes down.

How do we survive the Holiday with Unlovable Family Members?

  1. Invite non-family over with the family. We act better and others act better when there is an audience present.
  2. Put up firm boundaries. No one should be disrespectful or intentionally hurtful.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. Decide on a shorter visit. Maybe the family is fine for a while, then it all goes south. Make a plan to stay for a certain time period and then leave.
  6. 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.

Jacob 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. 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 with food.

Dysfunctional Disaster Holiday #HeartBreakHoliday Truth and life about dysfunction during Christmas. How to deal with heartbreak, death, loss and sadness with our families around the Holidays. Quotes and Bible passages to help during this Season.

 Dysfunction doesn’t have to be the destiny of 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

To read other posts in the Heartbreak Holiday series:
Dysfunctional Disaster Holiday 

It’s the Wonderful Time of the Year

 A Barren Womb at Christmas

Finding Joy in the NICU at Christmas

How to Choose Joy When Deployment Separates Us

Joy In A Hot Christmas Mess

I Feel So Sad And Lonely This Holiday Season

The Empty Seat


32 thoughts on “Dysfunctional Disaster Holiday #HeartBreakHoliday

  1. Good tips and great point that the Bible is full of dysfunctional families!
    We’ve found it helpful in the past to have things to do at celebrations (creating a gift basket for a family in need, taking the kids to the park, etc.) because focusing on these can help ease the interactions.

  2. Julie, I know how blessed I am to come from a very functional family. We enjoy each others company so much. It is our favorite place to be. When my brothers and I were little we had a small family and always wanted a big family. Now he and my sister-in-law host all of us at family holidays and it is pure joy.

    Having said that, I unfortunately have my son-in-law’s family who is VERY dysfunctional and has caused a lot of hurt for our family and especially for my daughter. This year, my daughter and son-in-law are hosting Christmas, his family will be here, but we are hoping they will be better behaved because my husband and I will be there, and my parents. You are so right that people are on their best behavior when around others.

    That was a very interesting quote about toleration. I am finding with my son-in-law’s mother that my tolerance is becoming less and less over time. The Momma bear comes out. Thank you for redirecting my thoughts and attitudes to more Godly ones.


  3. Great advice, Julie! We’ve had to do all of those things on your list :). I can attest to the fact they all work. The older I get, the more sadness I feel that we can’t all just get along. But, humans are quirky and sinful and it’s going to take heaven before we ALL get along ALL of the time!

  4. Julie I thought you were talking about my family for a minute. It’s as if you changed the names to protect the not so innocent. My mother passed three years ago and unfortunately there was no will. I pray that God will heal our family. Life is too short for discord abound. I love your tips. I’ve tried a few of them and found them effective. I’m sure your blog will resonate with many.

    1. Calvonia- no unfortunately it’s my family and yours too (now that I know about it). The guilt and sadness is because it’s not how God created it, isn’t it?
      I’m going to pray for your family this season, now that I know about it!

  5. This is a great series so far, Julie. Maybe your family will read it, and see how you are praying and applying wisdom and the Word to the situation. I’m joining you in prayer, friend!

  6. Love this Julie! The Holidays (and any special occasions for that matter) have been so stressful for me ever since I got married! I’m learning from God’s word how to let go of the ugly feelings that arise around these special times and rely on his word instead. So hard when two families come together, but it shouldn’t have to be ! >.< Thanks for the encouraging words, Bless you!

    1. Naomi- Yes I understand those feelings! One thing that really helps me is to look at it this way. My husband loves his family and because I love him, loving those important to him, is part of my love for him.
      Praying that your Christmas is easier and more peaceful!

  7. I’m blessed to have a somewhat functional family 🙂 but that doesn’t mean gatherings are always smooth. I think an outward focus, having things to do to help others is an excellent suggestion and one we’ve used. And that’s just a good christian way to go, right?

  8. I think it’s harder to be kind to unrepentant family members who have hurt us because they are supposed to love us. We need to ask God to pull the bitterness out of our souls to be able to radiate the love of Jesus to them.

  9. Pingback: 10 Tips to Lift Sadness and Loneliness this Season #HeartBreakHoliday

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