“’But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,’ faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
‘Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. ‘Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”'”
― Charles Dickens,
Christmastime is here, whether or not you’re ready for it. I’ve been so happy with the comparison between this year and last year when I was really struggling with postadoption emotions. God has given me great joy this year, and I’m so pleased. But I know that for many people, thoughts of spending time with family at Christmas gives them a combination of non-Christmas-cookie-induced heartburn, slight panic, and preemptive fatigue. Unfortunately, I hear this a lot. I often chat with moms, only to find that they are more than willing to share how conflicts within their family are overshadowing their joy. But this isn’t the way it has to be forever-and-ever-amen-fullstop. God wants something greater for you.
There is an entire season in my life that I have regret for many reasons, but chiefly because I embraced callousness and rudeness as a way of life. Some of the things that I said to people were unacceptable. Some of the ways that I conducted myself were inappropriate and ungodly. I live with regret over that season in life, not in an unhealthy way, but in a way that spurs me on to greater things and goodness. Because of this season in my life, I felt duty-bound to share some of the harder lessons I’ve learned over the years about interpersonal relationships: a.k.a. what to do when loving people is hard.
Now, because it’s a bit of a heavy-handed post, I’ve interspersed some cute Christmas photos among the points, so that you don’t leave this online space feeling completely deflated. That is the one thing I want to avoid. Also, at the very end of this post, I’m going to link to some scripture passages that will build you up and encourage you in your quest for loving relationships. I’ve also created a free printable of scriptural prayers for when loving people is hard. It’s my Christmas gift to you!
For whatever reason, the holidays have a way of bringing out the nasties in people. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned over the years that help when you deal with difficult interpersonal situations when loving people is hard.
#1 Just because it’s a Christian activity (church, Bible study, small group, etc.) doesn’t give you permission to exhibit a lack of self-control.
#2 Hurtful things said in private are still hurtful things.
#3 Forgiveness matters. Extend it, and if you have the desire to extend forgiveness but not the feeling of forgiveness, pray for it.
#4 Make it a point to NEVER disparage your husband to others. The Bible talks about the link between our heart and our words several times. Yes, out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. But it also works the other way around. Many times, the things we say repeatedly have a way of worming into our hearts. If we continuously and openly speak words against our husband, we will begin to despise and harbor bitterness against him. Contrarily, if we build our husband up and respect him and tell others how grateful we are for him, we will foster a heart of gratitude and love towards our husband that can withstand hard circumstances.
#5 Children deserve to see and hear their parents genuinely apologize when they’ve acted ungraciously or in a way that is not of the Spirit.
#6 Remember that fatigue, overstimulation, change in food choices (SUGAR like nobody’s business!!! #guilty) and hunger can cause children (and adults too!) to speak and act in ways that would not normally be acceptable.
#7 We cannot make others be mature in times of conflict. However, we can choose our response, and it ought to be a response that gives grace, shows love, and extends forgiveness.
I still find myself coming back to these lessons over and over. Fortunately, we are not left without hope.
1 John 5:14-15 says “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.”
We know from many places in Scripture that God wants us to be kind, loving, gracious, generous, forgiving. If He wants us to be those things, it is perfectly within His will to pray for our own attitudes and actions that they would reflect His character.
Here are some scriptures that you could pray for your relationships.
Here is a free two-page printable with some of the above verses converted into prayers for you.
Click on the image below to direct you to the download.
Merry Christmas, and may we love people well this Christmas!