Fun. Festive. Warm fuzzies. Warm jammies. Great food. Even better moods!
We happen to run into someone that has made it their personal early New Years resolution to “change us” before the holidays are over. Now, mind you, they haven’t taken much of an interest in any part of our life in the 51 weeks prior …but this week? It’s like an addiction for them. They have their cape on to “SAVE THE DAY” and their smile on that will attempt to conveniently mask the ridiculousness soon to follow.
Hey, I love Christmas…the season…the reason for said season…just like the next person. It’s just that it makes me a little nauseous because I know that someone is going to slap on a label that should be held and lived with honor (what it means to be a Christian) like it’s a cheap “Hello, my name is…” sticker that matters less than the Dodgers (sorry, it just rhymed with honor, so I went for it)
Allow me to paint the picture that is framed in my mind…
We will put on verbal boxing gloves thinking we are taking up a cause to fight for, and instead come off as an arrogant idiot that someone wants to drop to the floor. We will dig our heels in to “stand up” for something we think needs our effort and come across as standing out for being obnoxiously critical of something we have (if we are willing to admit it) only part of the facts on.
We know that the relationship our dear loved one is in is bad for them and we, ironically, are the only one that can see it…so of course we should say something. And if we are going to to do that, it’s best done at the dinner table in front of as many family members as possible. We need to make sure the awkward ratio is as high as possible, so as to bring the most attention to our heroic actions as well.
“That job” someone has is wrong for them too. So we have a mental power point all fired up and ready to go. It will be life-transforming for the person we attack…errr…I mean “share” it with. Yeah, it’ll transform something. It’ll make any ounce of trust once present, disappear faster than the wrapping paper on a Christmas morning present.
And that is just causes, relationships and jobs. I could go on for another hour…but I think you may see by now where I am headed.
The holidays are not, at least they shouldn’t be, a time for us to become St. Fix it all.
But…wait a minute…we are…
1. Just sharing the “truth in love” (which means I can say whatever hurtful thing I want as long as I smile)
2. Wanting the best for you (which means agree with me on everything without questioning)
3. “Praying for you” (which means it’ll all get better in time when you finally agree with me and my version)
So why write this post today?
Aren’t there times when the causes, relationships, jobs, etc… are things that are hurting the people we love, so we want to help? Sure. We have the best of intentions because we love them. It’s just sometimes what we think MUST happen is the very thing that SHOULDN’T happen.
Walking in to our family room with a “save the day” mental cape on makes the holidays about something it never should be about in the first place.
Our loved one may be struggling right now, but that doesn’t mean they need us to verbally vomit every thought we have on their life like it’s a sit down with Dr. Phil. There isn’t a magical moment that we will create that makes what they are struggling with disappear in a miraculous moment. Our best of intentions means well, but will likely end poorly.
So what in the world am I suggesting?
A few things that make sure the people we love feel that, instead of judgement and condemnation.
1. Listen. Ask questions about things they are excited to talk about.
2. Shut up. After asking, resist the urge to respond with advice.
3. Smile. Let them know we care, enjoy their company and are honored to be present with them.
This isn’t “3 easy steps to holiday bliss at the family table”…it’s merely a suggestion that the people closest to us need to feel our presence, rather than our opinion. Our love, rather than our “truth”. Our support for who they are, rather than our judgement of where they are and what they are struggling with. Our intentional heart, rather than our big mouth with the best of intentions.
It doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with or support choices they are making…but that isn’t the point. It puts us near them, letting them know we love them and are here for them when they are ready. It’s not our choice to open up the box their hurts are in. So hands off, and keep our ears, arms and heart open.
The holidays are a time when everyone “knows” we should be focused on others. Actually, it should be all year long…but that’s a post for another day.
I needed to write this today to remind all of us of this…myself very much included.
Being focused on others doesn’t mean riding in on an emotional high horse to “fix” someone or something. It does mean we have an incredible opportunity to lean in and listen, sit tight and say little…all while making sure they know how honored you are that you have this time together.
There are, after all, no guarantees as to how much any of us have left.
I once heard of a man (true story), who took it upon himself to go see a family member that was dying and “share” something with them. He proceeded to offer judgement and condemnation to a woman on her death bed…calling her life’s intentions into question, one by one. He ended with an invitation to “come to Jesus” instead. He’s lucky I wasn’t there. I may have invited him to meet the floor. Alright…I wouldn’t have, but it doesn’t change the fact that I would have wanted to.
And now you know where the poster in this post comes from.
We don’t really know where people’s emotions are every day, and the holidays can be a very difficult emotional time that multiplies what is normal pain, to epic levels of heartbreak. And that is all on our own. The last thing we need is someone’s white horse and intentions to “help”.
That story still infuriates me when I think about it. I know the lasting pain it caused within the lives of those who had to deal with that insensitive and selfish behavior.
So I guess I am asking all of us, this Christmas, to do a few things…
Walk in a room with open arms to love on someone, rather than an open mouth to correct someone.
Be truly present in the room, rather than thinking you are the present to the room.
Go out of your way to show honor, to serve others, and encourage…
rather than “sharing the truth in love”.
Your truth sharing moment is proving you care more about your need to be St. Fix it all, than them.
Believe me…if they really want your help, you won’t have to say a word.
They will open up to you, wrap their arms around you…and through tears of love explain it all to you.
I hope you and your family enjoy a holiday season full of life, love and support. It’s been such a fun year having had the opportunity to “chat” and connect with you through this little blog. I love you, I appreciate you…and am excited about what the next year will bring as we continue on this journey together.
If we don’t see or talk to one another before…
Merry Christmas…and Happy New Year to you, your family and your friends.
Don’t wonder what presents you’ll be getting either.
You’ve already got them.
This blog post today is just our reminder about how to treat them.