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The secret to the holidays you hope for.

We left off last time with the idea that most things in life that are worthwhile, can’t be done in one sitting. Therefore our very small investments matter.

What perfect timing to vividly illustrate this point!

More than likely you just spent a big day with friends, family or in-laws. People. You might be coming out of your Thanksgiving day fog reflecting on how it went. Was Thanksgiving all that you hoped? I bet there were a few of you who had a disappointing reminder that things aren’t as they should be or at least how you would like them to be. Specifically, I’m talking about relationships.

Maybe it’s just me but I think it’s easy for us this time of the year to focus on those things we wish were different. Why? Because they are real and they matter to us.

For example, the frustrations we feel with relationships we wish were just a little bit deeper and richer, or maybe even broken relationships — the apologies we wish would come. I know I have spent time wishing others acted differently, and worse—wishing I had acted differently.

Wow this really is going Bah humbug.

Yes, I have been that girl who delivered a timely jab or sharp tone. At other times, it looked like me sitting quietly, or totally mute, wishing someone else would do the work of starting or carrying a meaningful conversation.

But now that I see the significance of the small things, I see that it matters if I choose to sit back in my stupor or choose to say, “Tell me about you! I haven’t gotten a chance to visit with you or get to know you.” This year I spent my first Thanksgiving with my VERY soon-to-be husband’s family. I have to say, after finding myself in a food coma on the couch, I mustered the will to start a meaningful conversation. And you know what, when I left and hugged this family member, I said and meant “it was so good to get to hear about and know you.” In forty-five minutes, we put down some kind of foundation that we’ll get to choose to build on next time we are together.

I am not trying to put a jacket on your back, as my friend Jennifer Clouse said one time. But here’s the thing. How do you want your holidays to go this year? Bigger than that, how do you want your life’s relationships to go?

Here is what I LOVE about this season!!! (we are officially moving away from Bah Humbug.)

It’s the idea of “Restoration”. There is a passage in the Bible that says “God restores the years the locusts have eaten.” You know why I love this passage? Because I have made my share of debits from the accounts of others with my actions. It is what I love about my Christian faith. God can make all things new- that’s actually the business He is in– He actually can restore the things I’ve broken – even with my small investments.

We have an opportunity to move toward people – to lean into the awkward, to add value, to see the people around us, other humans, as worthy. Because they are, whether I see them that way or not. And people are the things that make the holidays what we want them to be. But you can’t just invest one time and expect them to be great! They require small, steady moments put together over time. Ten minutes here, five minutes there, or maybe it’s just a pat on the back as you pass, a loving squeeze of the arm to let them know you see them or a quick apology for ones’ sassiness (not mine of course).

These are the things that over time make my relationships what I want them to be—ones where we enjoy and even love being together. Relationships aren’t made or broken overnight (though we can do tremendous damage in one sitting). They are built and forged over time through thousands of moments. Small moments. Small actions.

Here is the best news. It’s NEVER too late to show up differently. And when you show up differently, you get different results, INCLUDING in your relationships.

Your homework as we wrap up our focus on the importance of the small things.

Review the list of small actions below and reflect on opportunities you have to implement them throughout this holiday season. These may seem small and simple, but THAT IS THE POINT! It may be hard to overcome our own internal barriers to investing in people but these aren’t difficult things to do.

Pick a few of the things below and you are on your way to building the relationships and the life you hope for.

1. Identify relationships that you wish were more satisfying.
2. Think of questions you can ask to open up conversation or borrow from the list below.
· Tell me about what you are doing these days?
· We’ve never gotten to really visit and I realize I don’t know much about your story?
Tell me about you!
· Tell me how your work is going?
· How did you learn to _____?
· How did you become interested in____?
3. Follow up with a text and ask about something you remember they were doing or interested in.
4. Give them a pat on the back or the arm as you walk by. I know not everyone likes this but it is an act of kindness and suggests you care.
5. Reflect on any apologies you need to make.

 

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