The holidays are upon us and everyone has at least one family member they consider a little bit difficult. But what if the difficulty has created an uncomfortable distance that will be felt when you all sit down for the family meal or celebration?
Relationship repair is needed. So where do you start?
1) Begin with your thoughts. If all you do is have negative thoughts about the person, you will feel more negative. Your thoughts affect your emotions and your emotions affect your behavior. So begin by thinking about some positive aspect of the person. Do what Scripture tells us, think on something good.
2) Next, decide how you would like to approach the person. “I know we haven’t talked much. This is probably awkward for you too, but I would like to make this work better if we can.”
3) Then say something positive about the person. “One thing I always notice about you is how kind you are to mom,” or “I know you are a fantastic cook and that doesn’t go unnoticed.” The more you focus on the positive behavior (just like the thoughts), the more positive you feel.
4) Start with small talk. Be respectful, kind and comment on how nice it is to have a conversation again.
5) Whatever the cause of the disruption or rift, apologize. Own your part of the problem. Tell the person you are sorry and want to be on speaking terms again, or make things right.
6) Offer this–if you want to talk about it sometime, I am open. Leave the decision to go deeper up to the other person. You may or may not get a response, but you’ve offered. Reconciliation takes the willingness of two people.
7) End by expressing your willingness to be in a relationship again, your care for the person and desire to stay in touch.
The good news is that even if you don’t get the responses you want, you made an effort to repair the problem. Pray and ask God to work on the other person’s heart as well. A little kindness goes farther than you think!