The holiday season is almost upon us! Again.
Some of you are rejoicing! Some are not.
It is 100% certain that you will be dealing with people who have disappointed you during this holiday season. When we are around people who have disappointed us in one way or the other, a myriad of emotions can be unleashed inside of us. Particularly if these are people we also love. We see that person who hurt us and the emotional dam breaks loose and suddenly we are flooded by a cacophony thoughts and feelings.
We have no control over these impulses.
What we can control is how we will prepare for these encounters and how we will deal our feelings.
For me, there are but three options for dealing with unavoidable people who have disappointed you (or continue to disappoint you) this holiday season:
1) We can avoid them. This is clearly an option and in some cases (like abuse), it may be the right option. You simply don’t have to be around people who perpetually cause you harm or you are not ready to see. You just don’t.
2) We can be polite but choose not to engage beyond that point. This is not a bad strategy if you are really hurting but it is a non-sustainable one. This strategy is best used in the immediate aftermath of disappointment; when we have not yet sorted out our own feelings, must less determined how we will engage or not engage the person who has hurt us. Think of it as a low-drama temporary emotional “landing place.”
3) We can forgive and renegotiate the relationship. Forgiveness does not let the person who hurt you off the hook; it lets you off the hook and gets them out of your head. A conversation to renegotiate the relationship on the other side of disappointment is necessary but don’t have it until you are ready. The right conversation held before you are emotionally ready to have it, is always the wrong conversation. The only question up for discussion is, “Where do we go from here?”
Forgiveness is not an easy option, but it is a Christian one. And if you are wondering how you can forgive those who have sinned against you, keep in mind that God has forgiven you.
You probably won’t get things all figured out this holiday season on the relational side of things, but a determination to be emotionally ready for facing people who have disappointed you is a firm step in the right direction.
Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois and the author of “Love God. Love People. Don’t Do Dumb Crap.”