Those holidays are right around the corner, which means it’s time for food, football, and friends. Along with the good times come countless opportunities for relational challenges.
And we all know these communication and conflict struggles are heightened during the holidays. Every significant relationship will face challenges with communication and conflict resolution. This holds true for couples, families, friendships, and even co-workers. Married couples who at some points struggle in this part of their relationship are not unique. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:28 that “those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.” This goes for all relationships, not just marriage!
But as a friend of mine often says, with every challenge comes an even greater opportunity.
This holiday season, by following these three principles of healthy, biblical conflict resolution, you can turn the communication challenges of family into opportunities for relational growth.
1) You don’t have to fight and argue over every, tiny, little, itty bitty thing.
Maybe it’s the pressure of the holiday season, but for some reason we’re more prone to argue and nitpick over the small things. This especially holds true with the ones we love the most. Whether it’s our favorite college football team (Go Wake Forest!), the way we cook the turkey, or when we open Christmas gifts, we can and will fight and argue over anything and everything.
The writer of Proverbs 19:11b says, “It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” This means that sometimes we can simply overlook our differences. This doesn’t mean we ignore sin or tolerate someone harming us, but it does mean we can choose to look the other way, especially if it’s something small or related to a preference.
1 Corinthians 13:7 says love believes all things. This means that when we love someone, we choose to believe the best about them instead of assuming the worst. Believe the best and choose to overlook minor offenses. Your holidays will be much more enjoyable.
Question: What’s the one thing you tend to be defensive about during the holidays? Are there any minor offenses you can choose to overlook?
2) Choose to fight!
Okay, which is it, Scott? Stop fighting or start fighting?
While we need to stop nitpicking over the little, minor things, as followers of Christ, sometimes we’re just way too nice. Yes, we’re supposed to be kind and gentle, but other times we’re too nice to each other.
Get into a healthy argument. Feel free to disagree with someone else when it comes to football or politics. No one wants to spiral down into the presidential debate of 2020, but it’s okay and healthy to sometimes engage in a healthy, others-honoring debate.
We usually think we must all be quiet and get along. But you can disagree about religion and politics in a loving, God-honoring way. Challenge each other in a kind way instead of being nice, polite Christians.
Question: Are there times in the past when you’ve suppressed an area of passion or opinion in the name of being nice? Jesus never tells us to be nice. Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little bit this holiday season. But again, keep in mind #1 above.
3) Don’t Grumble or Complain
I’m preaching to myself on this one. I’ve found myself grumbling and complaining many times the last few weeks. Whether you overlook an offense or choose to fight, do so without complaining or arguing.
Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
It’s too hot. Too cold. I’m too busy. I’m hungry. I’m bored. We complain too often. When we do, we do not shine like lights in the world. Rather, we snuff the lights out.
Instead of whining and complaining like the rest of the world, what if we chose to be joyful and gracious. We don’t need to be fake or pretend, but most of us can grow in doing all things without grumbling or complaining.
Question: Would you say you’re marked more by joy and grace or complaining and grumbling? If you don’t know, then ask someone close to you to give you an honest assessment.
This Thanksgiving and Christmas, let’s choose to be different than the pattern of the world. Choose to overlook minor differences, pick a fight every once in a while (in a healthy way), and relate to others without grumbling or complaining. And have yourself a more joyful holiday season!
Scott and Kristen Kedersha have been married since 2001 and have four boys. Scott has served as a marriage pastor at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas since 2006. They’ve been family campers for the past five summers and this year have boys at the Shores, Ranch, and Towers. Scott writes about marriage, parenting, leadership, and much more at ScottKedersha.com. His first book, Ready or Knot? 12 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have before Marriage came out in February 2019.
Posted Nov 13, 2019