I have been there. I have gone to a family dinner or event with angst in my heart, defensive and at the ready to attack someone, anyone, who said something inappropriate or hurtful to me or anyone in my immediate family.
Yes, I have been there. And let me tell you it is not a nice place to be.
When you enter a family event or dinner with that kind of angst and anger, you are bound to explode at someone or let the anger build up inside so you blow up at your own family later.
I love my family, but people are people, and we are all different, so there are bound o be challenges...
And though my family has not changed, I have. I can not control those around me, I can control myself.
I can change my heart.
For example....I have some family members who never, and I mean never, ask me about my life. My teaching or writing, or anything going on in my life. I used to let that hurt my feelings. No longer.
I have made the decision to be free of that angst by recognizing that my self worth does not come from what others say about me or to me. No pat on the back or ego boost from words will make me any more than what I am.
My self worth comes from God, from striving to be what He wants me to be. Period.
So, how does that make me peaceful and joyful at family events?
Simple. I realize that I am not there to get my ego stroked. I am there to BE WHAT OTHERS NEED ME TO BE.
I am there for them. For Jesus. For Jesus to use me anyway He wants to bless others and point them towards His love.
And though that may sound idealistic, it is rather practical. Here are five ways you can find peace and joy from within at your next family event, just in time for Christmas.
5 Ways To Find Peace From Within At Family Events
1. EXPECT NOTHING - Enter the event with the expectation that no one will ask you about your life. Let go of that expectation. Do not set yourself up for disappointment.
2. MAKE IT ABOUT THEM - Make your time at this event about others, not about you. Ask others about their lives, their jobs, their hobbies, their interests. Make all of your conversations outwardly focused on the people you are talking to, and bless them with your interest.
3. PRAY - Pray before you go to the event that God can use you to bless those you come in contact with. Pray for God's peace and guidance, that He give you the words He wants you to use.
4. TIME IT - Set a time limit to stay at the event, and stick to it. Speak to your spouse ahead of time and decide how long you will be at the event. We will go to your mom's from 6 pm until 11 pm, and then we will head home. Having a time frame will allow you to be in the moment and know when you will head home.
5. KEEP IT SIMPLE - Keep your conversations simple and surface related. Don't dig deep into current events, politics or faith. A family event is not the right time to dig deep into any hot topic area, and doing so may set you up for an argument or uncomfortable conversation. So, go with several light hearted topics in mind, keep it simple and fun.