For those of us who don’t already live with the trickiest people we know, the holidays can feel filled with people designed to test us and remind us how much work we still have to do in the maturity department!
What if, this year, we went into it prepared to not just survive those interactions, but invite joy and intentionally love those who drive us bonkers?
21 Ways to Enjoy the Person Who Drives You Nuts (This Holiday and Beyond)
- Smile. Joy is contagious.
- Pray for their lives to be lavishly blessed. Even if you don’t feel like it.
- Pray for wisdom to see behind the tough behavior or attitude.
- Send them an anonymous card telling them something you appreciate about them.
- Give them a hug. We all need ten a day for good health—it will boost you both.
- Ask them something off the typical conversation track. What was their favorite thing about a sport they used to play? What was their first memory of a treat? What colors make them happy?
- Compliment them in front of someone else. The best praise is simple, true, and specific.
- Smile. Because you’ve been that hard to love person and Jesus stuck with you through it.
- Watch a comedy sketch on YouTube. Two words: distraction (a.k.a. make a fresh neural pathway) and endorphins (from laughing). My faves are Brian Regan and Tim Hawkins.
- Limit time together to a length you know you can relate well and keep healthy boundaries in tact.
- Gather in a location that’s emotionally and physically comfortable for you, so you can focus on loving them.
- Get enough sleep. Fatigue makes everything harder.
- Have a safe person at arm’s (or text’s) length, to whom you can send an “S.O.S. Please pray!” message when your resolve waivers.
- Smile. Because God’s crazy about this person, and I don’t mean the way you are (or get!) with them.
- In conversation, recall a moment you’ve enjoyed together, or a funny shared experience, however insignificant it may seem.
- Mention something you’ve always liked or admired about them.
- Pray for God’s healing and restoration to be unbridled in their life.
- Ask if there’s anything they’d like prayer for. In my experience, very few people shun prayer. We’re all struggling on this planet.
- Read Scripture daily. Athletes eat, sleep and breathe their training around the big events. The holidays are the big event for tough relationships. Fill up on the one thing that will feed your soul: the Word of God (see Matthew 4:4). YouVersion has every translation and reading plan under the sun for mobile devices so it’s available whenever you have a spare moment.
- Smile. It takes less energy than frowning, and will relax those tense face and neck muscles.
- Put your hope in the right person. (Hint: not them. And not you.)
“But those who trust [hope] in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NLT).
Because, friends, we can do everything on this list—and 129 more things just like them—and still end up a wreck with our tricky people this holiday if our hope’s misplaced. Hope put in them or us will fall flat. We’ll end up wanting to give up, run away, or eat through our insecurities. But hope in the Lord will never fail. Not once. Not ever.
This holiday doesn’t have to be like any other. Way back in January, I told you 2014 would be your greatest year ever. . . and that remains true today.
What is your favorite strategy for relating well with that difficult person in your life?