More of us than last year have family coming in for Christmas. Which usually means lots of love, laughter, and….the occasional frayed nerve.
You know what I mean. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, but up close and personal reminds you how much the loosey goosey way your brother is raising his children grates on you (and makes you fear for the Japanese porcelain vase). Or how it frosts you to see the admiring looks your cousin Shirley gives your husband when she thinks you’re not looking. What’s up with her, anyway??
Well, I bring good tidings—there’s a sure-fire fix to jump-start your virtue of Temperance (by which we control our impulses to anger) so that Uncle Bob’s horse laugh and the way your grandchildren thoughtlessly tear through gift wrapping no longer takes away your peace of soul. Not to mention body.
My friend Nita explained what worked for her.
Nita heard that if you write 10 things about someone who’s disturbing your peace, it will help. So she started with her sister-who-thinks-she-knows-everything.
Nita told me, “My first thought was, That’s crazy—there aren’t 10 things I like about her. But after writing five things, my whole body relaxed, my shoulders went down, and my voice changed. I totally had peace—and that’s what God wants.”
But it gets better. Nita had been advised by a therapist to do this exercise with everyone who annoys her. So she did the same process with a few more people and made a shocking discovery: all the behavior that disturbed her in others (like being a know-it-all) she herself had!
And the same two or three characteristics that drove her crazy in everyone appeared again and again as a description of her own faults.
What’s my part?
Although this exercise can be difficult to start, it reaped great rewards for Nita. She says, “I found that my part in the disturbance was the same in each one, so I didn’t even have to do the others because I now understood how my perceptions and expectations of others got me in trouble.”
“But that’s okay,” she said, “because if I know better, I’ll do better.”
We agreed that the reason others disturb our peace is because they’re not doing things our way. Detaching from our preferences and focusing on what is lovable about them lets us, with Mary, say “yes” to God’s way.
So, we have plenty of time before the holiday to finish up our Christmas lists and our lists of what we love about the wonderful people God put in our life as that wild bunch we call family.
P.S. A solid prayer life is the #1 way to see others with the eyes of Christ. Need help with that?
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