Handling the Holidays with Your Ex

Holiday manners insist that the only way to survive the holidays is to tolerate our Ex at all times. Well, the purpose of this blog has never been to “survive” but to THRIVE! So to THRIVE during the holidays, you will need to forget any notions of tolerating your Ex.

Our Ex: our Expectations flare most ardently during the holidays. (that is what you assumed I was talking about, right?)

Whenever lots of activities and people crowd together the tinder box of expectations ignites.

Expectations are pre-meditated resentments. We schedule the DVR of our minds to record what we think/what we feel/what we want. These expectations become a way to control and preserve and guarantee what we label as important.
The language of expectation may be directly blatant or subtly menacing:

“This is what we do as a family…”

“I expected more from him/her/them…”

“I expected more from you…”

“I wish you/he/she/they would have…”

“I just think it is proper to….”

 And my favorite, the sinister refrain of  Well, we have always done it this way…” and “I expected more from myself.”

We may be the Expector or the Expectee or, in a sinister chameleon tour de force, we may be both.

It is tempting to go cold turkey on expectations and expunge them with Zorro’s blade. Get rid of every single one of them. Do something completely new and different. Instead of expecting anything, we may deny, preferring a repose under the tree of blessed zen calm wherewehavenowantsorneedsordesires.

Except, when that doesn’t work (and for most of us it will never work), and so we add a healthy scoop of blame to ourselves and the now unattended expectations.

 A life without expectations would be a life without faith or hope. We don’t want that. What we want is a life without agendas that aren’t going to get fulfilled or that don’t match God’s purposes. We want to get rid of wrong, misplaced, distorted, and self-centered expectations. Those are the ones that weigh us down the most.  Chris Tiegreen, Unburdened, page 117

So, Because of Grace, the Spirit nudges us to Acceptance. It gently prompts us to survey the expectations we have of others. An expectation of holiday calm, comfort and joy, although peaceful, may still be based on our own ego’s needs (especially in a house containing the combustible combination of children/grandchildren and cookies, presents, and pets). An expectation of everyone arriving on time and slap-happy may be based on recreating our own version of Walton’s Mountain.

With a scalpel’s precision perhaps we can isolate and excise the expectations based on our ego, our self, our sense of justice, fairness, our woulds/shoulds/coulds/suppostas.

Perhaps we will choose to re-greet acceptance. We may acknowledge that  “Our greatest tests come when we cannot see positive results from our faith and obedience. In such cases we must die to our expectations and entrust them to our Lord.” (Os Hillman)

Perhaps this entrusting would be the greatest gift we could give ourselves.

With regard to the expectations that others have of us, we have to remember that people will place demands on us that God doesn’t. We get our instructions from Him, not them. He tells us to love and serve others, but that doesn’t mean we let them define for us what love and service should look like. When we keep our eyes on Him and let Him direct us, we will not be overburdened. Chris Tiegreen, Unburdened  page 122

We may need to talk back to our Ex. We may need to tell our Ex to take a hike. Sing the carol of expectation on another’s porch. We may want to remember We Are Enough. More than enough.

Just rest in the truth, sweet friend, that you are enough right now. You have done enough today, and you did enough yesterday. You have enough today and you had enough yesterday. There is enough love to go around and there is enough success to go around and there are enough dreams to go around. There are enough ideas to go around. There is enough for everyone. So {please} don’t let the lie of NEVER ENOUGH destroy what should be a beautiful season for you. And since you know the truth, you can let others around you know that they are enough, too. Brave Girls Club

As the power of our Ex subsides, we can wave an eager good-bye, or, depending on it’s power…shoo it right out the door of our thoughts.

Haggai 1:9

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4 Responses

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