During these busy holidays, watch your ….

Over the next 6 weeks, most people reading this post will be caught up in the busy holiday season. Throughout these holidays there will be one glaring thing frequently occurring —there will be many different interactions with many people.
Most of the conversations will be sweet. They will be heartfelt times of “catching up” with loved ones.
However, most likely,  there will also be run-ins with people that we  don’t really get along with.  My guess is that most of us have learned over time to just “play nice” in these strained relationships.  We can smile at these people and even have some superficial conversations with them, but nonetheless, there tends to be an uncomfortable feeling when we are around them.
During these busy, next six weeks, we can also expect  times of stress. Whether that stress comes from the pressure to buy just the right present for a loved one, or the thought of the expensiveness of buying so many gifts, or the anxiety about dealing with so many people in the stores or on the roads, or traveling in bad weather, or the concerns over having a lot of people at your house, etc. —we will experience some level of stress.
To complicate matters, with all these opportunities for stress and the busyness of the season, it  can lead us to just being plain, worn out, both physically and emotionally.  When we find ourselves in this state, we have a tendency to let down our guard.
So, why am I giving you this lengthy  overview of expectations for the holiday season–its because of this:  you have a huge choice in how your holidays will turn out by managing just one thing. What I’m talking about is managing your mouth.
shouting-loud-emoticon-holding-hands-near-mouth-38924109We each have a tremendous amount of power to communicate words of blessing to others.  We can encourage others. We can communicate love to others. We can pray with others.  We can support someone with positive words.
However, we can also hurt others by saying unkind words.  We can escalate existing tensions by our own selfish thoughts.  We can be actually mean to others, venting at them, words that we might be feeling, but that we know we shouldn’t say, but we do so anyway.
Let me encourage you to just prepare ahead of time for your interactions with others.   Be careful during these next 6 weeks (really always).  Let your words be few.  Prefer silence over meaningless talk.  Pray and ask for God’s help in all this.
When the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s celebrations are over, and they will be before you know it, what memories do you want from them?  I would encourage you to strive for memories where:
* you said encouraging words to someone who was sad and you made them feel better
* you said words of appreciation to someone who worked their tail off in preparing meals and who opened up their home
* you kept silent to those you know were upsetting you, but you diffused any escalation of tensions
* you made others feel better about themselves by your concerns for them in your words and your actions
* you have no regrets because you were able to keep your mouth under control
Enjoy the holidays!

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