Experiencing Peace When Encountering “Problem” People

Woman experiencing a headacheRelationships 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

By Andrea Chatelain

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,woman in winter gear with quote on "wearing" Christ 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:

cover image for Wholly Loved's DevotionalThis 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.

Additional Resources:

The Key to Experiencing Christmas Peace in Your Life Today by John Piper

Finding Peace in the Chaos of Christmas, on Proverbs 31 Ministries

Five Ways to Exchange Panic for Peace This Christmas, Lifeway

Christmas Dysfunction or Growth and Peace–Your Choice, by Jennifer Slattery

Grace for Our Imperfect Thanksgivings — Guest Post

Christmas image with a quote on choosing the precious over the perfect.

We’ve all probably allowed ourselves to get so caught up in the event of a thing that we’ve lost sight of that thing all together. I have. When I do, my stress climbs and my attitude tanks. But then God gently helps me shift my priorities back where they should be. Amazingly, when I do, my attitude and inner tranquility follow. I’ve learned, no matter how hard I try, my Thanksgiving and Christmas will inevitably be imperfect. But I’m also learning, it’s often the imperfections that make those unscripted moments so beautiful.

If you’re beginning to feel the stress of the holidays, or preemptively want to avoid this, I think you’ll find my guest Andrea Chatelain’s post encouraging, and you’ll want to grab a copy of the devotional she contributed to, mentioned at the end.

Grace for the Holidays

by Andrea Chatelain

The turkey was frozen. My mother and I flopped it in the sink and ran warm water over the cold, hard, unappetizing bird. This was the second year in a row this fiasco had happened. All we wanted was the thanksgiving meal magazines touted. Twice baked mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing, green beans and bacon with caramelized onion and a golden brown cooked turkey. So maybe our expectations were a little high. But they pointed to an even bigger problem.

Our anxiety was just as high as our expectations.

It’s not bad to want to serve our families well, but when we make perfection our goal we rarely do so with happy hearts. My mom and I grew stressed, there seemed insufficient time or oven space to get everything done in my little galley kitchen. Meanwhile I have no memory of what my kids were doing while I was busy worrying about a thawing turkey.

So I hold tight to Psalm 17:1 ESV during the holidays which reminds us, “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house Thanksgiving place setting with text of psalm 17:1full of feasting with strife.”

There are so many instances this is true, but especially when we prepare for big gatherings. I’ve learned it’s better to have store bought stuffing than batches of Pinterest worthy meals if it means I have more time, joy, and peace with the people I love.

But it’s hard to give up the idyllic version of Thanksgiving we have in our minds. How do we stop competing with the invisible and improbable version of our perfect holiday and accept the reality of our time and emotional constraints?

For me, it means squashing my pride and remembering the grace I have in Jesus. He doesn’t expect us to serve perfectly. He never called us to nail the most golden pie crust or win an award for cleanest house. He commands us to love others well with the strength He provides.

When we serve others, we are “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified [us] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:10-12, ESV).

Boy do I want to be filled with His glorious might, endurance, patience, and joy this season! I’m not sure if that is what this passage teaches and I don’t have time right now to really dig in to check. Sorry! Can we just cut that part out and use this: When we focus on Jesus, He changes our stressed out minds to servant hearts. We serve and love better when we lean on and are energized by Him.

This reminds me to focus on pleasing Jesus because He will lead me to peace, not anxiety.

The stress and emotions of the holidays are real, but we don’t have to be overwhelmed by meals and chaos. We can choose instead to be overwhelmed by the provision and grace of Christ. Focus your heart on Him this season and let go of the idea of perfection, you will experience His peace and joy no matter your circumstances, even if you turkey is frozen.

Let’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to prioritize precious moments over expectations for perfection? When you sense yourself prioritizing details over people, what helps you to regain a proper perspective? Share your thoughts, tips, and stories with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

Get to know Andrea!

Andrea's author photoAndrea 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 WhollyLoved 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. Visit her on her blog and follow her on Facebook.

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Wholly Loved’s latest Devotional, Intentional Holidays: Finding Peace in the Prince of Peace:

cover for Wholly Loved's devotionalhis holiday season, God invites us to slow down our hustle and to trade our striving for resting and rejoicing. Immanuel, God with us, encourages us to hit pause in the middle of our crazy, beautiful, and not-so-glamorous moments to experience Him. No matter how busy our days, fragmented our minds, disrupted our plans, or frazzled our hearts, God beckons us to draw near so that we can live filled and refilled. We can experience peace, no matter our circumstances, through the Prince of Peace, our Savior.

Grab your copy HERE.