Curious Reads: Not Today, Satan!
Holiday Boundaries, Advent & A Prayer
Today is another free-for-all discussion of my “top of the fold” curious read. In the new year, commenting privileges will go behind a pay wall. If you believe in my mission of a more curious & empathetic Christianity, please consider subscribing for $21/year (normally $30/year).
Hello friends, Liz here.
Today’s TOP OF THE FOLD discussion is holiday boundaries!
I get it, saying NO a hundred different ways is NOT anyone’s favorite Christmas activity. ;-)
Then again, learning to create healthy relationships within our families is a dream shared by almost every grown-up I know. But that dream has no chance if we do not first learn to distinguish where the lines between you and I begin and end.
So let’s try it out together, shall we? Here’s one therapist’s guide to setting healthy limits with extended family over the upcoming holidays…
“How can I prepare ahead of family holidays?
[Therapist Nedra Glover] Tawwab suggests thinking about the questions you might get asked, or topics that might come up. And from there, make a plan for how you'll respond. ‘Having a way to respond, and not be caught off guard when you know something is going to happen, can be a really helpful way to savor the moment and to not feel offended,’ she said.
How can I set boundaries if someone triggers me IRL?
If it’s a heated debate you want to avoid…
Acknowledge that you disagree on a topic. Tell them, ‘I don't want to argue over dinner,’ Tawwab said. Or, ‘This is not the time or place to have that conversation right now.’
If it’s a question that feels a little too personal…
Remember Tawwab's suggestion to prep responses? This is the time to use them. And if more uncomfortable conversation topics continue to come up, keep using them.
If they won’t let the topic go…
Exit the chat. Feel free to say: ‘I'm going to leave this space, because this is not something that I feel comfortable having a conversation around,’ said Tawwab. Or a simple ‘stop’ could work.
If your boundaries hurt someone’s feelings…
It’s normal to not want to upset someone you care about. But according to Tawwab, you can’t always avoid that. ‘People disappoint us and we disappoint them,’ she said. ‘We're not always going to be happy and satisfied in our relationships.’ “
What boundaries are you setting this holiday season?
Which topics are off-limits? Which activities or relationships are you avoiding because you’ve had trouble in the past with keeping your cool in the moment? What conversations are you having before you get to the family dinner table?
I know these things are hard to talk about, so there is SO MUCH GRACE for you today as you consider what to share and how to share it in the comments. I will block naysayers. This is a safe space, my dears. :)
More Curious Reads (Advent Edition)
I have some Advent delights to share with you, including:
My favorite Christmas album: the Brilliant’s remastered Advent collection —Listen here
An excellent advent read that you’ve probably been hearing about— Kelley Nikondeha’s The First Advent in Palestine, which explores the justice implications of God’s coming to an oppressed people. —Read a review at Englewood Review of Books or Buy the Book
The Visual Commentary on Scripture offers a free digital advent calendar with fine art and written & oral meditations on each. This year, the curatorial theme is angelic visitation. —Visual Commentary on Scripture
And… a bonus (read: unrelated to Advent specifically) & brilliant short story related to consumption and grief, two of our major American preoccupations during holiday times.
One writer catalogues the carbon footprint of Princess Diana. (But seriously, I wish I’d written this story myself!! It’s that good!)
“Once there was a prince in want of a wife. The prince met a lady with gold hair, and he kissed her in front of video cameras. He took her to a polo match. The lady wore a sheer skirt and the prince rode a skittish pony named Drizzle. The lady wept because of the way the cameras, and the people behind them, trained their gazes on her. Young women are considered eligible for marriage because of their sensitivity and their long remaining breeding period. Photographs show the lady looking at her prince while he gazes into the distance, as though he were fascinated by every detail of the background. At the time there were 4 billion people on the planet.” —Orion Magazine
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For Your Enjoyment…
Watch a world-record number of Santas skiing down a slope in Crested Butte, Colorado!! ;-)
And now a poem for pure joy & justice at Christmas…
Joy to the world and to all Santas in every mall and ski slope everywhere, and to the children who save up their hushed wishes, and to the parking lots of parents swallowing curse words so they can deliver giddy smiles to refrigerators of 100 adoring—these are relics of pure joy.
Yet the centerpiece, Christ, the always wide-eyed, has not noted the suburban white celebrators in our minivans, not only.
Christ, foremost, observes the lowly state of single mothers facing eviction notices, occupants of hand-me-down tents beneath highway underpasses, minimum wage bus-riders without extras to spare for sugar-crusted ham, adolescents disabused of the big man in red and expecting anyway, brown fathers in fear of traffic stops.
For the Spirit of God is here, among cheap vodka bottles and ramen packets and dollar store wrappers. Here, God descends.
Godself meets empty wallets, those suffocating for God’s wind as much as for their next drink, those who relate to the run-over twitchy squirrel more than the plump, leashed shih tzu prancing along the sidewalk. Christ arriving, rennovating, to the desperate first.
So I don’t assume we’re asking a lot when I ask that God, whose favor unannounced can set Russian diplomats and KKK leaders and domestic abusers ablaze, might in a milisecond, diamond-hard and dropped to their knees, they’re spun in the opposite direction. Do it quickly, now, it’s urgent.
God can resemble a kiss or a hurricane, same difference, really, because the end finds us on hands and knees to approach, while the child, alone, stands.
Will we need to be knocked backward or will we lie flat out? Quicker. Now and today. That’s when. Thanks be to God.
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