So last week, we talked about the fact that not all holidays come with a guaranteed Christmas movie happy ending. One of the biggest areas where this is true is in the area of relationships. Setting aside the fantasy, here’s the truth: no matter what Christmas movies say, not all relationships will be healed by Christmas. Angry people don’t magically become kind. Grudges and disagreements don’t melt away like falling snow. Not every Grinch’s heart will grow three sizes and become benevolent. This truth leaves us with the problem of “How do we deal with difficult people during the holidays?” I think this is a pretty universal problem. We all have someone in our lives who has their own special way of trying to ruin the celebration. There are grumpy people, spoiled people, ungrateful people, miserable people, stingy people, self-absorbed people and my favorite: people who are stuck in the past. Like their very own brand of the Seven Dwarfs, these people have the potential to ruin your holiday—-but only if you let them. As we’ve all heard before, “The only person who can ruin your Christmas is you.” “But Adessa, you’ve never met my ‘fill in the blank of a difficult person’.” No, I haven’t. But trust me, I have some difficult people of my own. Here’s something I’ve learned: As a Christian, the best way to enjoy your Christmas is to use this as an opportunity to obey the Bible and:
Love your enemies!
Do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.
If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also.
If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.
Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.
Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
(Luke 6:27-31 NLT)
“But you don’t understand”. Oh, I bet I do. Here’s another thing I understand: the deep temptation to take revenge on a difficult Christmas person and let them feel the consequences of their bad choices. I know we don’t talk about it a lot, but let’s be honest, we’ve all had that moment where we’ve thought, “They don’t deserve a present….a card….an invitation….to be included.” The honest truth is they probably don’t deserve it. But here’s an opportunity for you to show true Christian character and give them something that they don’t deserve…..Grace. Mercy. The same things that God has given you. Please, understand, I’m not saying that you have to invite the difficult person to spend all of December at your house. That would be crazy. And only you really know the boundaries that your situation requires when it comes to safety and sanity. Still, I’ve learned on my own journey to dealing with difficult people at Christmas that there is always something that I can do to show God’s love. Sometimes it means making a phone call, other times it means inviting them to dinner. On the days when I think, “But they don’t deserve a gift”, the Holy Spirit reminds me of all that I have been given that I don’t deserve. Out of love for Jesus and a desire to experience health and healing in my own life, I buy the gift, I give the gift, and I usually watch them return it. Yep, you read it right—-they usually return it. Because as I said earlier, life is not a Hallmark movie. There’s no guarantee that a difficult person’s heart will change when you do the right thing. But here one thing I can guarantee: When you do the right thing: YOUR HEART WILL CHANGE. When you choose to avoid revenge, turn the other cheek, show love to people who don’t deserve it, YOUR heart will grow. Your heart will heal. You are taking a step toward forgiveness and healing and all that God has for you. Free from the guilt that comes from taking revenge, you will be helping yourself have a better Christmas. So how do you deal with difficult people at Christmas? Give them grace, give them mercy, do the right thing, and if you can, develop a sense of humor about their response. Then go on your way enjoying YOUR holiday. ---Adessa