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Just because we want a "Wonderful Life" ending, the pressure around the holiday season can be intense.
It's that time of year again!

Around the water cooler, stories are told about what happened over the holidays as families gather that haven't seen each for awhile or don't want to see each other at all! Perhaps your expectations of the holidays are met with love and warmth from your family of origin...maybe not. In any case, the pressure around the holiday season can be intense because the dynamics that are at play during every other day of the year don't change just because we want a "Wonderful Life" ending.

Oddly enough, as believers, we sometimes expect that things will be different this year. Relationships continue on their own course until met with an outside force. Sometimes that could be a spiritual revelation or a crisis or tragedy. All of us have the right of choice and we can choose the "wisdom path" or the "woe path". The wisdom path is asking for insight into your own life and the part that you play in your family dynamics.

There are unspoken, unwritten rules in families that can be oppressive, such as:
  • Don't talk about (or even acknowledge problems) because we want everyone to believe we are the perfect family
  • We are not perfect, so it is OK for us to be verbally abusive and put eacch other down.
  • Our family is demonstrative and we just act and say what we think no matter who it hurts. Some people are too sensitive!
  • Emotions show weakness. Never show your emotions.
  • Anger is a sin. Never show your anger.
  • We come from a long line of passionate, emotional people, so everyone will just have to get used to it!
As you can see, these rules can swing from one extreme to the other. You can be certain that if there are unspoken rules in your family, someone over the holidays will violate those sacred family rules and bring down the wrath of the family on themselves.

The Apostle Paul said, "Let your moderation be known to all men..." Phil. 4:5. Being healthy emotionally and in your relationships means moderation in all things.

Several years ago, there was an emphasis on Co-Dependency, which really was just the tendency of an individual (or family) to go to extremes in their way of relating to others. When I taught about Co-Dependency Issues from a Bible perspective, I emphasized three areas of extremes:

Extremes in Thinking

Everything is good or bad, awful or wonderful and there is nothing in between. If something unfortunate happens, then it is exaggerated to catastrophic proportions. There is no room for mistakes and if someone does something wrong, that automatically makes them a bad person.

There is "all or nothing" thinking, which may mean that you totally agree with me or you hate me. (Has that ever happened at a family gathering?) Solutions to this kind of thinking are also extreme. If you don't agree with me, then we can't be friends. Try this response, "That is a very interesting point of view."

Extremes in Feelings

Jesus expressed the entire range of human emotions. He was angry, sad, joyful, loving, and grief-stricken. He reacted to all situations in life in a very healthy manner. In unhealthy, or co-dependent behavior, there is a tendency to either overreact or under react to any given situation.

In a family dynamic, there will be compensation to these reactions. There could be one person who is explosive and controls by anger which results in another family member being the peacemaker. You will see opposite reactions. It is almost like a play at the theater. Everyone has a role and acts it out. When anyone dares to change their role, it throws the family dynamic into mass confusion.

Emotions are part of our makeup and can be expressed without damaging others. Suggestion: Don't appoint yourself as the family peacemaker, counselor, or policeman. Appoint yourself as the "Observer" and mostly observe yourself and your reactions!

Extremes in Behavior

The results of these attitudes can produce an unhealthy way of relating to the world such as taking responsibility for others' thoughts, feelings and behaviors. These people are overly responsible. Then the opposite arises in families where one person becomes totally irresponsible. A good example of this is the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. The younger son squandered his inheritance and the elder son behaved impeccably, with the exception of resentment!

Setting Boundaries With Others
In the series, "Rebuilding Your Walls and Setting New Boundaries," I taught that strong boundaries are necessary in order to not be taken advantage of. Sometimes Christians think that in order to walk in love, we should be doormats, but God does not expect that you, the temple of God, should submit yourself to abuse. You can set boundaries without acting rudely.

If there is an alcohol problem or verbal abuse problem at your family gatherings, you can decide (before the event happens) exactly what behavior will send you packing. It is possible that when reviewing these options, you may decide that not setting foot on the property is your best boundary. God loves you and He expects you to take care of yourself. Jesus is the Savior of your family, not you. Since He came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captive free, I am sure He does not want you entangled with that which is damaging to your soul.

An interesting idea: "Instead of analyzing or judging yourself and family members, be a neutral observer."

Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance regarding your holidays. It could be an eye opening experience!

Charles Capps Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Annette Capps
Web site: Charles Capps Ministries
 
Annette Capps is the daughter of author and teacher Charles Capps. She is an ordained minister, businesswoman, and pilot.
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