The Thanksgiving season typically evokes all kinds of warm feelings. From savory food to precious time with family, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed with gratitude for the many blessings God has given us, each and every single day.
But for some, Thanksgiving brings on anxiety and panic over the sheer thought of getting into another argument with one’s relatives over politics or faith, or even past resentments.
The good news is – this Thanksgiving season doesn’t have to be a battleground. As it depends on you, it can be the perfect opportunity to practice what it really means to “be at peace” with all people. Here’s how to do it.
Don’t Take The Bait
Is your ultra-liberal cousin just waiting to boast about President Biden’s expansion of abortion or lure you into a conversation about LGBT “rights”?
Don’t take the bait!
You don’t have to pretend you endorse such things…
… but you don’t need to get into a heated argument about it either.
Instead, simply say something like, “Well you know I disagree with you on this, so let’s put it aside and just have a nice Thanksgiving dinner.”
While sometimes a conversation discussing true pros and cons of an important topic can be helpful – it isn’t when the person just wants a reason to argue.
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.” Proverbs 26:4
Ask Them About Themselves
People love to talk about themselves.
If you’re looking for a way to “break through” the hardened heart of a difficult relative, consider asking them questions about themselves.
The goal is not to flatter them, but to genuinely show interest in who they are, from an authentic place.
You can go deep (if you have that kind of relationship) or simply keep it casual such as, “So what did you do this summer,” or, “Do you have any plans to travel in the future?”
Simple conversation can cause a person to open up and get to talking about their life – both good and bad.
If your relative shares they are struggling in an area – offer to pray with them right then and there if they’re comfortable with it, or let them know you’ll be sure to keep their situation in your prayers.
Your genuine interest in who they are will touch them more than you realize.
It can be tempting to ostracize the “drunk stepmom” or the “moody” teenager.
Instead, be humble and remember that all of us in this broken world struggle with something at some point in our lives.
Some more than others, but none of us are exempt from pain and suffering.
Even if a person is difficult or “unlikeable” at times – have empathy and true Godly compassion for them.
And if you happen to be in a good place in your life at the moment – remember, it is only by God’s grace, so show humility.
If you find yourself feeling discontent this Thanksgiving season, pause – and give thanks.
Some people don’t even have families to gather with.
Others have recently lost loved ones and are in a deep season of grief.
From those without money to even have a Thanksgiving dinner, to the single mom working two jobs just to provide for her children – life can be hard.
While the Thanksgiving season often evokes feelings of gratitude – we must remember to give thanks at all times, in every season.
God is always at work in our lives, doing more than we could possibly even begin to imagine.
If you’ve fallen into the habit of discontentment or apathy, use this Thanksgiving season as a wake-up call to get right with God – and praise Him not for the gifts He graciously gives us – but for who He is.
May God bless you and your loved ones.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
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