Someone once said the reason why God gives us friends is because we cannot pick our family. Though humorous, all humor has an element of truth.
What is a person to do when the only thing they have in common with their family is DNA? How do you handle those family get-togethers that leave you drained, exhausted, or feeling less than adequate?
Pick Your Battles Carefully
You are not firing your family, and even if you choose to separate yourself from them, they will find a way to live rent free in your mind. So it is best to pick your battles very carefully with those difficult family members that find a way of getting under your skin.
Though there are times when distance must be kept between family members in order to preserve your sanity and a sense of tranquility, it is best to remember that there are many more family occasions, graduations, birthdays, funerals, et cetera that will cause your paths to cross. Therefore, I find it important for people to accept that these people are not going away, and to fight and argue over menial issues is going to pave the way for much added misery in the future.
Stop Beating Dead Horses
When I use the term dead horses, I am referring to those topics that you have hashed and rehashed over and over again. I am dealing with those conversations that are old news in your home and marriage.
Just as there is no honor among thieves, there is no honor among critical people. In other words, I have found that when we as a family unit are negative about others, that negativity has a way of turning inward though it starts in an outward direction.
I have found that many families need to do what I call a Philippians 4:8 detox. That is, Philippians 4:8 tells us:
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
A Philippians 4:8 detox is when a family decides to remove all negative content out of their conversation unless they are legitimately solving a problem. I have found when families do this, they find a release of tension in their home, and they actually find it easier to get along.
Avoid Family Gossip
There is no need to discuss family matters with other family members unless you are in what I call a problem solving mode. It is quite unnecessary.
I often say that though gossip may never be found it, it is always felt, and what people whisper in the private has a way of making its way back to others.
Solomon even mentioned this in a way in Ecclesiastes 10:20 as he said:
“Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.”
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Sometimes, the only crime that you have committed with your family is that of familiarity. Even Jesus struggled with this when he said:
“A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4)
When you are frustrated with family, sometimes you are frustrated with the fact that you have achieved a certain level of success and respect from the rest of the world, but not within your own family. However, if Jesus’ only crime was that of familiarity in his own country and amidst his own brethren, then be sure to expect the same treatment.
I may accomplish a lot of things in life, but with some they will never see past their view of me when I was growing up. Honestly, who cares? Be humble and get your mind off of what you would like them to say and on to how you should be a blessing to them.
Live Without Regret
Not to be morbid, but one day you may be sitting at a funeral of the person or persons in question. To be frank, I like to live in a way where I will honestly be able to say on such an occasion, “I did my all to be a blessing to this person.”
Stop Being Surprised by Jealousy
You may have been the dog that was kicked around growing up or a black sheep of sorts in the family. However, now you may be a little different. It is quite possible that you have changed. Instead of being a blot on the family name, you are now a blessing.
Now that you are different, you may be expecting praise from others only to find jealousy. Bewildered and befuddled by this reaction, you may be tempted to try to change or call out their feelings of jealousy. However, you will find this to be unbelievably futile. You may simply need to accept that this is your new normal with certain family members. There may be a need for you to consider it is as a compliment when others are jealous and find friends that will appreciate the present day you.
Family jealousy is dysfunctional, but fairly normal. Read Genesis 37 and I Samuel 17. You will find that if others are jealous of you, you are in good company.