Relationships can be hard and rewarding, stressful and comforting, this time of year especially. We all probably have at least one person we’d must rather avoid but whom we tend to find ourselves sitting directly across from during Christmas dinner. If you’re anticipating some unpleasant conversations and interactions this season, I hope you’ll find encouragement in my guest Andrea Chatelain’s post.
Experiencing Peace When Encountering Problem People
Envision the person you’re least looking forward to seeing this Christmas holiday. Even thinking about them may make you uncomfortable or irritable. Their words may sting, their actions leave disastrous wakes, or perhaps they’re simply insensitive and rude. Perhaps flying to Florida for the holidays sounds pretty good right about now. How can we make sure unenjoyable people don’t ruin our special day? The answer centers less on who we’re annoyed with and everything to do with our relationship with Christ.
When negative thoughts regarding a family member or acquaintance swell, I have to ask myself some questions to get back on track: How has God shown me compassion and patience? How has He forgiven me recently? And how is He asking me to bear with the person I am annoyed with?
I had to do this recently. To be honest, sometimes I get weary of forgiving the same person over and over. I get angry when I stew about their choices and actions. I think it would be easier to avoid them and move on. But when I answer the questions above and ponder the way Jesus has handled my offenses, I’m so grateful He’s ready to pour out an abundance of grace and patience when I mess up? He always gives me another chance.
When I want to love others like Jesus, I remember Colossians 3:12-15. In this passage, Paul, an early church planter wrote, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15, NIV).
Woah. That one packs a good truth punch. When I want to engage in a disagreement, put someone in their rightful place, or walk away from a relationship out of annoyance, I have to remember I’m chosen and loved, and called to show compassion to others when they don’t deserve it. I’m to forgive others as Christ has forgiven me. And in doing so, I put on love and help bind my family together in harmony.
When I’m right with Jesus and in tune with all the gifts He gives me, it impacts how I respond to those who annoy me. I’m more gracious and patient because I’m empowered by God’s Spirit and living out of His kindness.
That’s not to say we should never set boundaries for ourselves and our children. Sometimes we do indeed need to distance ourselves from unhealthy behavior. But even then, we must continually check our hearts to ensure we’re following Christ’s leading and not reacting out of bitterness or resentment. We can forgive from afar, love others without inviting or accepting abuse, and hold tough conversations with grace.
But when emotional or physical safety isn’t involved, when we’re simply dealing with someone we don’t particularly enjoy, Colossians 3:12-15 can help us love well this season.
If you’re struggling with potential holiday encounters Christmas, reflect on the kindness and grace God’s shown you. How can you bear with others in that same compassion and love? Let’s commit to surrendering to Christ in the face of grievances this Christmas so our hearts can experience His peace.
Get to Know Andrea!
Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer at Glory Be, writer/speaker for Wholly Loved Ministries, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She loves connecting with women to remind them they can find everything they need in Jesus.
Let’s talk about this! What are some ways you stay grounded in peace and fitted in love during difficult or stressful situations? Share your thoughts with us, and make sure to grab a copy of Wholly Loved’s Christmas devotional, which Andrea contributed to, Intentional Holidays:
This holiday season, God invites us to slow down our hustle; to trade striving and performing for resting and rejoicing.In our photoshopped, Instagram, hyper-publicized culture, it feels like the bar is always rising. Not only must we create that memorable Thanksgiving meal, but it must look Pinterest worthy when we’re done. We rush to find the perfect gift and that gown for that party we feel obligated to attend and wonder how we’ll pay for it all or find the time and energy to get everything done. But Immanuel—God with us—is indeed with us in the middle of our dinner fails and celebrations.This holiday season, each morning, no matter how busy our day or frazzled our heart, God is drawing us near so that we can live filled. We can experience peace in the middle of our crazy through the Prince of Peace, our Savior, Immanuel.
The Key to Experiencing Christmas Peace in Your Life Today by John Piper
Finding Peace in the Chaos of Christmas, on Proverbs 31 Ministries
Christmas Dysfunction or Growth and Peace–Your Choice, by Jennifer Slattery