If you plan to leave your home this holiday season, then chances are you will encounter a difficult person:
A rude customer
A stressed-out parent at your kid’s Christmas program
Noisy neighbors who throw parties late into the night
Or maybe you’re already anticipating a situation with a difficult person a little closer to home:
Your in-law whose comments just rub you the wrong way
That sibling who tries to take control of all the plans
The child who seems ungrateful no matter what you do for them
In our broken, sin-filled world, difficult people are everywhere. Throw in the stress and the chaos of the holidays and it’s almost a perfect storm for conflict. So, this holiday season, when you encounter a difficult person – and you will – here are 5 tips for showing them grace and the love of Jesus.
1. Pray for your own heart
It seems a bit strange to advise dealing with other people by praying for your own heart…but it’s really the most effective place to start.
Begin praying for God to increase in you the fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
And, if you get to a heated moment when someone causes you to feel angry and irritable, whisper out a prayer asking God to give you His strength to display kindness and humility.
2. Pray for them
If you’ve identified a difficult person in your life, then, after you’ve prayed for your own heart…pray for them. Thank God for that person (even if that’s hard!). Ask Him to be at work in their heart, and ask Him to fill your interaction with peace, harmony, and understanding.
3. Make a plan ahead of time
When a person starts to push your buttons, or a situation becomes increasingly tense, one of the most grace-filled things you can do (for them and for you) is to control your own emotions. Come up with a list of things in advance that can help you stay calm in the moment.
Take a 5-minute walk.
Move to another room or conversation.
Practice deep breaths (here’s an exercise called box breathing).
Remember a helpful Bible verse.
Make your own list of coping skills and practice them ahead of time, if possible.
4. Look for the good in them
I truly believe if you look hard enough, you can find something good and pleasant about anyone. Maybe it’s their fun sense of style… maybe the casserole they made is extra tasty… maybe you appreciate their humor.
Whatever it may be, find the good and pleasant in that difficult person and FOCUS on that. Compliment that. Tell them what you appreciate about them. Intentionally looking for their good qualities can go a long way in helping to soften the negativity you feel about them.
5. Remember God’s grace for you
God’s grace and mercy for you is brand new each day. He forgives your sins and continually loves you…even when you are difficult.
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23
And…He gives that same love and mercy to the critical family member that is sitting across from you at the dinner table, or that rude person causing a scene in the checkout line. Ask God to help you bear with the difficult people you interact with…forgiving them, just as He has forgiven you.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. - Colossians 3:13
Finding JOY every day
While your family gets together this season, fill your home with encouragement and joyful messages. Stream JOY FM wherever you go by Clicking here to listen. Or you can easily bring JOY with you by downloading the JOY FM App.
What can you expect from listening to JOY FM?
You’re going to hear a lot of great music. Music with meaning…but you’re still going to want to sing along with the songs.
You’re going to hear on-air personalities that are real people. Laughing. Having fun. And being honest about life.
And you’re going to notice that JOY FM leaves you feeling a little better about life in general. A few minutes of listening should leave you feeling uplifted…encouraged…refreshed…ok, we’ll say it…more JOYful!