The glittering lights of the holidays often spotlight unresolved family tensions. When gathered around the table, past hurts, and clashing perspectives threaten joy. Leading
Lady Janell Rardon, a Trauma-informed therapist, award-winning author, and host of Today's Heartlift with Janell joins Amber and Lisa with practical tools for peacemaking and leading with grace this season.
We easily project past emotional injuries and fears onto family gatherings, subconsciously bracing for fresh conflict. Janell urges becoming “actively aware” when we feel triggered– pause, breathe deeply, and resist simply reacting out of churning emotions. Pray for wisdom and wait for any physiological stress response to settle. Try seeing each family member through Jesus’ merciful eyes rather than the lens of old wounds. Defuse your own inner landmines first before attempting to dismantle dysfunction in others.
Much strife arises when we fail to truly listen and understand one another; we filter what people say through our biases. Janell suggests gently paraphrasing what we hear before responding, ensuring we accurately grasp the full meaning beneath the surface. Approach gatherings without a subconscious agenda to fix, prove our point right, or win an argument. Make space for all voices, perspectives, and experiences in the room. Listen “between the lines” for underlying hurts seeking healing as well.
Bold and Tender
While confrontations often backfire when we are bluntly honest without care, speaking difficult truths gently can foster breakthroughs and healing. Janell recommends using nonviolent communication tools to express a hard message with kindness.
For example, “I feel concerned when you bring up my past addictions around the kids” shows you own your experience without attacking or blaming the other person. Using more “I feel” statements rather than “you” statements diffuses defensiveness.
Janell advises assessing your mental and emotional health before entering a volatile family situation. If certain people or topics reliably trigger anger or anxiety, have an exit plan in place. Permit yourself to protect your inner peace without guilt – you matter, too. While avoiding conflict seems easier, prayerfully discern if there is a window to share your perspective with empathy. Meet ignorance with clarity, not escalating friction.
Let healthy boundaries and compassion guide potentially explosive conversations this Christmas. The Prince of Peace stands ready to show us how.
Pause & Reflect
- What family relationships might you view more compassionately this holiday season by listening deeper to understand?
- Do you need to establish a boundary or have a kind but courageous conversation with someone?
- What self-care strategies can fortify you to stay grounded amidst family tensions?
With God’s grace, we can face relational landmines with wisdom and love, leading our families to safer ground. May the song of peace ring louder than any discord.
Download Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication
Episode Chapter Markers:
1:50 Holiday Family Dynamics
3:15 Listening as Peacemaking
5:12 Speaking Truth With Care
7:30 Owning Your Experience
10:22 Exiting Toxic Situations
12:44 Walking in Wholeness
15:30 Accessing God's Wisdom
18:22 The Art of Waiting
20:55 Setting Healthy Boundaries
23:37 Self Care First
26:21 You Are Loved