Handling the Holidays in a Healthy Way

Handling the Holidays in a Healthy Way

When we choose to engage our holiday season in healthy ways, we will get out of it what we put into it. You reap what you sow, therefore we will grow what we tend. Tending to our family relationships, no matter how dysfunctional they can be, is the mark of a caring, maturing Christian.

Reconciliation is a big word that doesn’t come easily for most of us. At least one party must swallow his or her pride for there to be any forward movement in healing and restoration.

Here are some ideas of what you can do to start a strained relationship on its path to healing and growth:

  1. Set healthy boundaries first.

We’ve all heard about them and know of them but putting them into practice can be more difficult than it appears. 

Take time to review what boundaries are, and if you need to, practice them with a spouse or close family member. It’s always easier said than done. 

When you may need to establish these boundaries, it’s better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them under your belt. 

  1. Engage in a dialog, but don’t bring up the past unless necessary.

For strained relationships with other family, you could ignore them and set up distance between you, or you could engage with them and hear them out. 

One of Dale Carnegie’s Top Ten golden rules in winning friends and influencing people is “listen to and be genuinely interested in the other person.” 

Everyone loves to talk about themselves. Without judgmental attitude, ask them open-ended, meaningful questions and see where that leads them. 

Who knows, you may find you have more in common than you thought, or you may open the door to a means of reconciliation.

  1. Offer forgiveness and mercy if you’ve been wronged.

If they offended you, you may want to clear the air. If it’s not an obvious offense, like they never replied to your Facebook event invite, let it go. 

If it’s something more straightforward like a blatant rumor they started, said something insincere and insensitive to you outright, ignored your hospitalization in the psych ward, haven’t seen you in years and you have an obvious (to you) gap in the proximity of your relationship, you may want to take it a step further. 

If you can’t move forward without some kind of closure or reconciliation, approach them in a kind and loving way. 

Start off with speaking with them one-on-one if it’s something more personal, and pray for wisdom and the words to say. 

  1. Ask for forgiveness if you have wronged another.

If you’re the one in the relationship that may have done something wrong—and sometimes it’s harder to tell if it goes unspoken—but if you have doubts or concerns, say something. 

Maybe you didn’t do anything wrong by them, best case scenario, and maybe you did do something wrong. 

If you did, ask for their forgiveness. Admit you have offended them and hurt them. Apologize intentionally and meaningfully.

 It’s so imperative that you get one to one with them and in as private a space as possible (within reason) to resolve the offense.

  1. Place the relationship in God’s hands.

God knows we are weak, near-sighted, and a lot of times blind toward our own faults. Within ourselves we are faulty, so it’s likely our brokenness with another will have a byproduct of broken and faulty relationships at times. 

Whether we are the ones pulling more weight or not pulling enough of the yoke, there is never a bad time to put the relationship into Christ’s healing hands. 

Remember Peter, who denied Jesus three times? Remember how Jesus asked him three times if Peter loved him? 

Jesus wants to restore our relationships with others just as His and Peter’s was. No matter how destructive a person has been, so long as God’s mercies are new every morning, we are able to give each other second chances, within healthy limits. 

And when we are at the end of ourselves, He has it under control. When it seems helpless, God makes a way.

  1. Pray and wait for growth.

Good habits and healthy behaviors take time to learn and adjust to. The other party may be aware that they need to change, now that you’ve cleared the air. 

Pray for them, and pray for you, to grow, to change, to become more like Jesus.

To take it a step further, suggest praying together.

  1. Optional step: document your journey

The neat thing about keeping journals or documenting our story is that when you look back at it, you eventually get to see how much you’ve learned, grown and changed! 

It’s amazing that it not only hones your writing skills, it develops your sense of introspection, and you see just how far you’ve come. 

Maybe by next year, the holiday season will be more of a welcome time with those family members that otherwise got under your skin. 

Maybe you’ll look forward to the gatherings more. 

Maybe you’ll love more. 

Isn’t that something we all can work on? 

I hope these suggestions encourage you to approach your holiday season with family in a deeper, healthier and God-honoring way. May God grant you grace and patience to handle the holidays and family gatherings.

About the author: Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at KatieRDale.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale.

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.


Experience a New, Hope-Filled Reality in Your Life

Experience a New, Hope-Filled Reality in Your Life

In 1995, the trajectory of Brad and Donna’s Hoefs life changed dramatically. Due to Brad’s mental illness, which was undiagnosed at the time, he had an excruciatingly public episode of uncontrolled manic behavior. As a senior pastor of a large church, Brad was smeared in the news, received condemning letters from pastors across the country, many friendships ceased, and the church asked him to resign. In the aftermath, Donna remembers sitting in her backyard weeping and pleading to God – “My husband is not well. I have no job. I’ve got two children to care for. What am I going to do?” 

Seven years later, Brad’s recovery hit a low point when he relapsed. In addition to losing more friends, they lost their dream home and moved into an apartment. Donna later describes the inner pain of being married to someone with a mental illness: “confusing… devastating… terrifying… alone… forgotten… grief… anguish…”.  

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. 

In their newly published book, Holding to Hope: Staying Sane While Loving Someone with a Mental Illness, Brad and Donna courageously share their story together. Being the loved one of someone with a diagnosis can be as difficult as having the illness itself. The book focuses on empowering people to live well in spite of the roller coaster ride of a loved one’s mental illness.  

“Now we can say, 20 years after the first diagnosis, these words:  






and Hope.” 

~ Brad and Donna Hoefs 

When I finished reading Holding to Hope, I found myself thanking God for keeping His promises to the Hoefs. When their hearts were broken, He drew near to them. During their struggle, He was working all things together for good. They have never been alone on this difficult journey together, and now they are sharing over 20 years of powerful insights and practical steps that can produce relief, light, laughter, joy, future and hope in others. 

For many people who love someone with a mental illness, those words may seem impossible and out of reach. If that’s you, I pray you will read this book and experience a new, hope-filled reality in your life. 

In Hope,

Jonathan Nielson

To order your copy of Holding to Hope: Staying Sane While Loving Someone with a Mental Illness, you can go to the Fresh Hope Store or Amazon using the links below:

Fresh Hope Store 

To download free chapters visit linktr.ee/holdingtohope

Holding to Hope: Staying Sane While Loving Someone with a Mental Illness centers around the 7 Fresh Hope Recovery Principles for Loved Ones. It’s filled with a transparent look and learned insights into the Hoefs’ lives as they navigated through the darkest days following Pastor Brad’s first major bipolar episode in 1995. Holding to Hope is not only for individuals to read but can also be used in a group setting for a group to process together. 

The Secrets to Worship Your Way Out of Sorrow

The Secrets to Worship Your Way Out of Sorrow

During pain-plagued tragedies, when one must endure long days and late nights, sorrow threatens to overshadow any sense of hope. It’s a universal experience for sure…that jerk of reality and jumping lightyears into a realm of sorrow. It can appear inescapable, and last far longer than you’d have expected.

This new paradigm shift brings the strongest prayer warrior to their knees, but the wisest know the secret to finding the way out.

Already on their knees, they worship. And when it gets better, or worse, they worship.

Circumstances come and go, but praise is due to our God forever. And in a sorrowful state, we are being shaped. God is still using the bad to cause good to come from it. Surely, we can worship in the midst of any frame of mind.

Here are the secrets to worshipping your way out of sorrow, depression, and constant misery:

  1. Recognize what you’ve lost. Define it. Identify that it’s gone. That’s the first step in processing the trauma of the loss. If you need to express your grief and depression, look into talking with a counselor.
  2. Humble yourself. God opposes a proud heart, but a broken one can welcome Him into the pain. A mentor of mine once taught me that the fear of God is keeping in the front of your mind that He is with you at all times. Keep reminding yourself of His presence. It’s helpful to practice the next step in order to do that.
  3. Call on Him. Say the name: Jesus. That precious, powerful name. The only name. It’s the answer to every fear, every doubt, every weakness. And calling on him out of your pain will light the flame you need to see out of the darkness of your sorrow.
  4. Praise Him! I can’t stress his enough – if there was a way to highlight, bold, underline and italicize – this point is most important. Lifting our praise in song or voice to God is where the tables are turned. Demons flee, Satan cowers, situations change, and the whole spiritual environment quakes at the praise of His glory. Give Him credit, glory, a great name! He is for us! What isn’t to praise? Turning our eyes onto Jesus in the darkest of nights will cause “the things of this world [to] grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace,” as the old hymn goes.

If that’s true, then after you’ve recognized the loss, humbled yourself, called on Jesus, and essentially done all you could do to put the sorrow to rest, you find the victory comes. Maybe not right away, but in discipline and earnest prayers and supplications and praise, we can eventually rest in victory.

Acting on a command like “rejoice always” is not dependent on our feelings or emotional state. The scriptures don’t tell us to “let your feelings dictate your actions” – but rather, the action changes that scripture commands bring about emotion and spirit changes. Don’t believe me? Try it. Apply it. And then come back and let me know how it went for you. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Disclaimer: For someone dealing with excessive sorrow and depression for more than a month, you should consider talking to a certified counselor and even a psychiatrist for medication management. The effects of clinical depression can be long, lingering and debilitating, and unnoticed can cause more harm than good. Take counsel and medications as prescribed by a certified clinician. Always consult with a doctor for appropriate mental health treatment and care.

About the author:

Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at BipolarBrave.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Since my former profession of case manager at a behavioral clinic, I’ve stepped into the role of stay-at-home mommy to Kylie. And I get to travel the world with Chris, my man in uniform. Aside from that, I could live off mac ‘n cheese, and I still hold onto my aspiration to run a sub-20-minute 5k. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale. Stay bold, brave, and real.