How were your holidays this year? Did you leave your family festivities feeling warm and loved? Or did you feel a bit isolated and ignored? Take a moment right now and think about some of the events of this holiday season. What were the factors that made a difference in your experience? Is there anything you would do differently?
In my last post, I talked about how a simple kitchen timer changed my relationship with my biological father completely! For years I tried to earn his love and approval but it seemed as though I always fell short. That is, until I realized that I was expecting something he could not give and it set me up for continual disappointment. I had to go through a season of grieving the loss of having an earthly father who loved me and was proud of me. In the midst of that process, I came to a deeper understanding of Father God's unfailing love for me--"what an indescribable gift!"
Maybe you're like me--you've been disappointed time after time and each holiday brings with it another wave of dashed hopes. Take heart! You can begin today to implement one or all of the tools we discussed:
Break the Rules!: Do something different from the norm. Change things up and see what happens.
Employ Safeguards: Set a time frame for visiting the family and stick to it; use a signal to escape a difficult situation; or take a time-out to re-group and re-evaluate what God would have you do
Adjust Your Expectations: Don't get caught up in either idealizing or catastrophizing. Have realistic expectations.
Take the Initiative: Realize that change begins with you! Be creative and find ways to preserve relationships in the midst of healthy boundaries.
Let me know what you tried this year! Share with me what worked and what you're still working on! Remember, change happens slowly--even in us. Don't become discouraged if you take one step forward and then the next holiday take two steps backward! It happens to all of us! Just continue on the path and modify when necessary. You'll find that it can actually bring joy and laughter to difficult situations and relationships when you take the focus off others and initiate change in collaboration with God's Holy Spirit! I love the following verse in John 5:17 because it reminds me that I'm not alone--that God is always working in me and for me!