4 Ways to Promote Peace over Strife This Holiday Season

4 Ways to Promote Peace over Strife This Holiday Season

4 Ways to Promote Peace over Strife This Holiday Season

You’ve been planning and preparing for the holiday months in advance. You have found a lot of joy in putting up holiday decorations, baking, and picking out special gifts for those on your list. But on that special day when families gather, there is the potential for strife that can put a damper on family traditions. How can you maintain peace and keep the joy that should be surrounding this special time of year? Here are four strategies to keep the peace and avoid family tensions during the holidays: Photo Credit: Getty Images/Deagreez
1. Look for the Good in Your Family Members

1. Look for the Good in Your Family Members

Whether we want to admit it or not— even the most difficult family member has some redeemable qualities. But sometimes, we have to be intentional and look for them. If we only allow ourselves to focus on their past mistakes or their character flaws, we will miss the good that they possess. We surely wouldn’t want anyone focusing only on our negative traits. We want people to give us the benefit of the doubt and we need to do the same— even for that grumpy, or know-it-all, relative. Keep in mind we all have strengths and weaknesses.

Photo credit: Getty Images/monkeybusinessim


2. Learn to Have Healthy Disagreements

2. Learn to Have Healthy Disagreements

Life can present us with difficult circumstances and difficult people, but we are always responsible for our words and actions. When someone hurts us, there are two healthy ways to handle our anger and hurt. First, after we’ve had a chance to collect our thoughts, go to that person and calmly express how we are feeling and how their words or actions hurt us. Many times, miscommunications are at the root of a conflict. When we go to the other person (in kindness), we have the opportunity to get the details of the offense out of our soul. How the other person responds is their responsibility, but we’ll know we have said our piece in a loving way to the other person. 

Secondly, if the person is unwillingly, or unavailable to talk to us, or is simply too combative to have a rational discussion, then venting our feelings through journaling or a trusted friend or counselor can be helpful. We don’t want to keep the wound of the disagreement buried in our soul, only to come out in unhealthy ways. Paul says in Romans 12: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Going to the person and trying to reconcile is always the best way to handle the disagreement.

Photo credit: Getty Images/paffy691

3. Practice Forgiveness, Especially This Time of Year

3. Practice Forgiveness, Especially This Time of Year

When you forgive others, it releases you from harmful toxic emotions that can affect your emotional and physical health. You may say, “But you don’t know what they did to me, you don’t the pain they have caused me.” As a counselor I can tell you that forgiveness is not the same thing as condoning the other person’s words or actions. Forgiveness does not suddenly force you to put your stamp of approval on the wrong actions of another. Rather, forgiveness is an act of your will to release from your soul the wrong actions that were done to you and to choose to grow beyond the offense. 

People mistakenly believe if they hold onto their unforgiveness it gives them a sense of power over the other person. This is untrue. That person who wronged you may not even be thinking about you! Forgiveness is about choosing to be emotionally healthy. You can choose to be the bigger person. You know you have forgiven someone when you can be in the same room with the person and say hello. Notice I didn’t say you’ll be sharing recipes or making vacation plans together any time soon, but you will be able to be kind, and in the same room, at least for a couple of hours during the holidays.

Photo credit: Getty Images/bernardbodo

4. Let Your Words and Thoughts be Edifying

4. Let Your Words and Thoughts be Edifying

For goodness sake…don’t stir up strife with your words. Reminding family members about the wrongs that have been done to you by that person isn’t going to make for a peaceful holiday dinner. Continual exposure of another’s wrongs only makes us look bitter. We are not the judge and jury over another person’s soul. 

The opposite of strife is love. The Bible says, “a soft answer turns away wrath.” That simply means our words can either diffuse an argument or set a bomb off. Our words can either build up or tear down. If your thought life is a recording or a constant playlist of how a person has wronged you, it will be more difficult to keep your words from starting a war. Remember, out of the heart the mouth speaks. If your heart is full of hate, anger, and bitterness, it will be self-defeating to your efforts to watch your words. If your heart is hurt and wounded, I would recommend counseling to work through those issues.

At times, family strife may be inevitable. The closer the family member is to us the deeper the wound. There are usually two sides to a conflict and both parties simply want to be heard and understood. Long-standing conflicts could be evaded by simply allowing both parties the opportunity to be heard and validated. It is amazing how far a simple, “I’m sorry for my part of the conflict” will go.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Ann Danilina

Do You Want to Be Right or Do You Want Peace?

Do You Want to Be Right or Do You Want Peace?

Remember that most of the time what lies behind anger is hurt. If we can deal with the hurt that words or actions have caused, we may find peace attainable. My husband once asked me concerning a family member, “Do you want to be right or do you want peace?” Do you want a peaceful atmosphere in your home for the holidays or do you want tension in the home for the holidays? We have a responsibility to go to the other person and at least try to discuss hurt feelings. If the other person is not willing to have a rational discussion about the disagreement, then at least we tried to work toward peace. Beyond that, we have to forgive and not allow ourselves to become embittered.

Family strife not only affects the adults in the family but also the precious children. Make no mistake, children are watching and learning how to handle conflict from the adults. Children can sense strife in the home, and we don’t want them growing up with the residue from our negativity. This is the time of year where we celebrate happy traditions and good cheer abounds. Let us commit to ourselves and our families not to allow strife to rob us of the joy of the holidays. 

Photo credit: Unsplash/KaLisa Veer


Dr. Luann Dunnuck is a conference speaker, author and counselor. She holds a Master’s degree in Christian Counseling and earned a Doctorate in Theology. Her latest book is entitled “Soul Mend: Discover Spiritual and Emotional Health.” Visit www.LuannDunnuck.com for further information.


About Holidays

The purpose of iBelieve.com is to help women wrestle with the deeper issues of how their faith relates to the world around them. It seems that Christian women today are facing a set of challenges unique to their generation. With an emphasis on personal experiences, our goal is to create a team of writers and bloggers looking to share how they have seen the struggles and triumphs of life through the lens of the Christian faith. We hope to create a place where our audience can feel uplifted by authentic examination of what it means to be a Christian woman in today's culture.Read daily devotions for women, blogs by your favorite Christian female bloggers, articles on faith, relationships, health and beauty, food and home, and motherhood. iBelieve.com also provides Christian ecards and inspirations to encourage and uplift your sisters in Christ!