We all have our reasons that make us agree or disagree with this statement. For me, I enjoy the downtime I get during this season and the reflection of my life I am led to make. During said reflection time, the relationships I have in my life often come into question. Are there people who don’t have my best interest at heart? Boundaries I am not honoring? Have a done my best to make a great impact in the way I serve others? What changes do I need to make moving forward and what areas of my life do I want to focus on improving? Have I done my part in maintaining and growing the relationships I need? And most importantly, am I in God’s will?
No matter what order these questions come up in, it never fails that I find it more and more important to focus on my relationship with God and my relationship with others. The social aspect of my life is something that I ignore at times. I’ll be the first to admit that although I am grateful for friends and family, I do not prioritize this aspect of my social wellbeing. This year I decided to be a little more intentional about things and I am pleased with the progress I was able to make in this area, and I want to share a few tips on how to make this your most wonderful time of the year, despite the functions you have on the calendar and obligations you may be trying to meet or avoid. We need to be in the mindset of doing it God’s way.
1. Your job in relationships is not to please others so that you fit in. We should have let go of that spirit in elementary school but in case you still pick it up occasionally, let me help you. Your job in a relationship is to reflect God’s love by benefitting others and to adding value to them. You need to reset your mind about the purpose of relationships so that you don’t allow people pleasing to rule your decisions. Instead let pleasing God dominate your decision- making. The Bible encourages us to be helpful to one another, to think of others before ourselves, to love each other, motivate one another, and be kind, but it never says do what is pleasing to them. Regularly check your heart posture to be sure you are doing things in the right manner rather than obligation.
2. Never be afraid of implementing better boundaries for yourself and others. Maybe you’re the emotionally mature person in the relationship, and God has revealed some patterns in your behavior that you need to address without explaining yourself to others. For example, it may be difficult to cut off a conversation you have with the same person every day, so instead of explaining how unhealthy it is for you to engage in such a long conversation and the dependency that you’ve created, you could implement a better boundary by prioritizing what you need to get done. Maybe you don’t answer the phone when they call, or if you do let them know you have to make it quick today because you have another priority you need to handle. Find creative ways to break your own bad habits. It’s never a bad idea to replace your time spent performing bad habits (i.e., scrolling online) with time spent worshipping or listening to an audiobook.
3. When you hear someone else’s news, whether good, bad, or indifferent, be careful not to pass on your anxieties and worries about what they have going on. People tend to always ask questions, more out of curiosity and worry than genuine concern without realizing the rippling effect. The person answering in return often feels their need to people please and give the best answer when the reality is that they have no idea. Instead of asking people questions about their next move or their next plan, simply listen to what they want to share with you and become interested in learning from them. This way when you ask questions, it is for understanding, and the pressure of needing to give the right answers that will calm someone’s anxieties and worries are eliminated. Figure out how God is working in their life. Ask how you can pray for them regarding the matter and give them the space to know that they don’t have to have an answer right away. We often drive people away from us because we don’t perceive that we are forcing them to fit our expectations, instead of allowing them to be authentic.
May this be your most wonderful time of year because you made the most out of your relationships with others and have therefore pleased God.