Seems like every family has difficult people in it. You know those extended family members who no matter what happens, they tend to get upset and offended about something.
- The one who points out that no one considered them when planning get togethers.
- No one fixed anything they could eat.
- The children get on their nerves.
- They can’t watch the football game because you don’t have cable.
- They never like the gift they are given, but are offended if not given a gift.
- Their measure of love is by how much money you spend on them.
I’m sure most people can add to the above list many, many more instances. So what do you do? How can you best deal with family members who choose to be unhappy and want everyone to be unhappy right along with them?
I’m afraid there is nothing much we can do to change difficult family members. No amount of talking with, catering to or appeasing will solve the problem. 🙁 There are some people who just enjoy being miserable and trying to make others miserable along with them. As any believer knows the only hope for a miserable person is Christ. Yet, no matter how much we pray and share with them we cannot give them Salvation ourselves, only the Holy Spirit can bring them to Salvation.
So what do we do?
I have found that praying for the difficult family member regularly helps me. I’m sure it also helps them, just it isn’t instant. 🙁 But when I know I will be with a difficult family member I try to spend specific time in prayer for that person. Used to my prayers were full of “Lord change them.” While I do still pray that they will change due to becoming a child of Christ, that isn’t my focus, praying to change them. I pray for their Salvation most importantly, with an eternal perspective.
But I also pray for how I interact with them. Family members can learn how to push another’s family members “buttons”. I pray that I am able to not be offended or take personally the attacks and jabs. I pray to be able to deal graciously with them and not to get my feelings hurt no matter how hard they may try. I have found praying for difficult family members and my response to them has helped immensely. I rarely get my feelings hurt over such. Verbal jabs and intential slights just don’t bother me anymore, usually. I do find that it is harder to not be bothered when the slights and jabs are directed at another without reason. But I typically don’t react with an emotional response anymore.
Try spend a week of praying ahead of time for a difficult family member and just see if it doesn’t change you and make things more pleasant.