Wisdom for Family Difficulties During the Holidays



Why is it we can look at the life of a neighbor or co-worker and say, “Put up boundaries, friend. That person is hurting you. Stop allowing it to go on.” We hear their story of how their spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend or parent is reeking havoc in their lives through toxic speech and behavior. The “right thing to do” seems obvious to us. We don’t understand why they don’t make a move.

But then…

Why is it we can then look at our own family member (sibling, niece, nephew, close cousin) and say, “Just forgive them. Make peace and keep the family happy. What happened is over, and you’ve got to put down your guns and move on.” (By the way, it’s not a gun; it’s a shield deflecting the bullets you cant see being fired.)

And then we wonder…

Why is it the victim of emotional abuse feels confused. They’re wedged between other people’s version of right and wrong, between being at fault and not at fault? (Don’t confuse this with a Victim Mentality) Two sides, two views, constantly tugging at them. Which “right thing” advice should they listen to?

Speaking with an experiential understanding: wise input from an objective perspective is essential. Family cannot offer it, nor can most close friends.

Psychological forgiveness is the critical internal process of letting go of bitterness and anger. But relational forgiveness, which leads to reconciliation, is contingent upon a set of criteria that the offender must meet. (Check out Mending the Soul)

Any person, family member or not, who urges you to either rebuild or continue a relationship with an emotional abuser is not concerned about your wellbeing or emotional health. They’re upset over the contention your situation has caused; their concerned about maintaining the family “reputation.” Yet they have not walked in your shoes. Often, the pain over what they think they see happening has caused this unaware family member confusion. They simply want things to be right so the discomfort stops—who could blame them? Their offended hearts are desperately trying to reconcile with what’s happened while loving everyone involved. They are blinded by subjectivity.

Subjectivity: the quality of being based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions; the quality of existing in someone’s mind rather than the external world. (online dictionary)


I was amazed to see that no one intervened
    to help the oppressed.
So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm,
    and my wrath sustained me. Isaiah 63:5(NLT)


You are valuable simply because God made you; therefore, so is your mental/emotional health.
To the person “wedged” between opposing perspectives, I suggest you seek certified counsel—YOU ARE WORTH IT. Find a therapist: FaithfulCounseling, (I prefer Christian world view, but you can find options on the Psychology Today site as well.). Does your church have a freedom ministry? If yes, then don’t be shy, they should have local connections. If you’re in the Dallas/FtWorth area, here’s a place I trust: GatewayFreedom, I’ve gone through their training and speak from experience.

Loving certain people from afar is a wise move. Healthy boundaries are a necessity in life.

Fear not! Make healthy choices for yourself. The boo-sayers will just have to deal with it.


Scripture speaks clearly on the type of people to keep in close association.

“Don’t befriend angry people
    or associate with hot-tempered people” Proverbs 22:24 NLT

“Don’t envy evil people
    or desire their company” Proverbs 24:1 NLT


What can you do?

For your family member(s) who need boundaries.

One thing is for certain: they want and need family time. Can you make it happen? Without judging? Even if everyone else poo-poos you for doing so?


Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t nag them about attending the large family gathering, but don’t ignore them either
  • Choose a separate time to hang out
  • Choose a location that won’t accidentally be “invaded”
  • Don’t make a big deal about what’s going on, because you likely don’t understand (and you don’t necessarily need to).
  • Embrace them as they are and where they are on their life path
  • Help them have a ‘happy holiday’ free from fear and emotional exhaustion

You might end up a holiday hero.


The Concerns of an Embattled Spirit


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