After this past holiday season and an inordinate level of tension, I did some soul searching and drew a few conclusions about how to keep family conflict from driving me crazy. Here’re five things I’m committed to doing going forward. I welcome you to join me:
#1: If you are a Christian (not just in word), lower your expectations. Why expect people with an ungodly, worldly viewpoint to behave according to the Bible? Your job? Nonstop intercession (“pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion” (Ephesians 6:18))– as well as a little introspection to see where you could exercise more wisdom.
#2: Guard your heart by putting on the WHOLE ARMOR of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) each time you plan to get together and in between time also–so that you will be able to “stand firm against all strategies of the devil”. Don’t let negativity seep into your spirit and impact your attitude and general demeanor.
#3: Limit (not necessarily “eliminate”) your exposure to the negative folks who instigate family conflict. Don’t buy into what they say about others. Draw you own conclusions about people–and give them space to be human. Remember that the Lord requires us to “love mercy” (Micah 6:8), so let’s extend it freely.
#4: Develop nurturing friendships with folks outside your family circle so that they can be a sounding board and a refuge (yes, God is our ultimate refuge) for when you need a little emotional support.
#5: Don’t tell a family member ANYTHING in “confidence” about another family member. In the midst of a heated discussion, your confidante will likely reveal the info and its source (that will be you!) to strengthen their argument. Most people don’t have the wisdom or spiritual maturity to be that discreet during an argument so don’t put them in a position to fail.
Commit to these steps and you’ll have a strong likelihood of staying sane during the next inevitable family conflict.