The holidays are here. Let’s be real. The best and the hardest thing about the holidays is that they’re actually all about relationships. They’re a time to celebrate with the people we love…which naturally forces us to notice where our connections with those people aren’t in great shape. For many of us, the holidays present some tough emotional and relational situations to navigate with friends and family members. It’s easy to resort to trying to keep awkwardness and anxiety at bay by staying busy with cooking, shopping, football, movies, and a million other holiday activities. But is that really how we want to spend our holidays—as a relational survival exercise?
I think all of us would rather spend our holidays enjoying love, safety, and meaningful connection with people we care about. The best gift we can give ourselves and others this holiday season is to choose to keep our love on and find ways move toward the people in our lives.
I want to help you pursue this goal, so I’ve created a free resource just for you: The Circles of Intimacy Holiday Health Check.
As I explain in Keep Your Love On, the circles of intimacy represent an order of priority for the relationships in our lives. The innermost circle is your relationship with God, followed by your relationships with your spouse or closest covenant friend, other close friends and family members, extended family, work colleagues, acquaintances, community members, and beyond. It’s our job to make sure that we are nourishing these relationships according to their order of priority in our lives.
The Circles of Intimacy Holiday Health Check is a simple journaling activity designed to help you evaluate the health of your relational connections and identify at least one thing you can do during the holidays to strengthen those connections. You are invited to answer questions about each relationship, including:
- Is there a healthy exchange of truth in this relationship?
- What is the level of safety in this relationship?
- Am I listening to understand and staying willing to adjust?
There is also space for you to write down things you are thankful for, and areas where you hope to see the relationship grow in the new year.
When it comes to thinking about ways we can strengthen our connections, two helpful questions to ask ourselves are these:
- How can I send the message, “I care about you and our relationship”?
- How can I send the message, “I want to be a safe place for you?
Speaking people’s love languages is a powerful way to show them that we care. At the holidays it’s easy to fall back on buying gifts for people, but for the quality time person in your life, the best gift you can give them is going to be time to connect and join them in an activity that’s important to them. For the acts of service person, it might be helping to cook dinner or running errands. Words of affirmation people might appreciate a thoughtful letter, and touch people will be thankful for hugs.
When it comes to being a safe place, healthy communication is essential. Refuse to engage in disrespectful conversations. Bravely step into vulnerable conversations where you show the person your heart and invite an exchange of truth. Listen well, seek to understand them, identify what they are needing, and help to meet that need.
I hope that The Circles of Intimacy Holiday Health Check is a helpful tool for you. My prayer for you this holiday season is that you would receive a huge dose of supernatural courage from the Father to keep your love on no matter what, and that the time you spend with people would be full of healing, joy, love, peace, and hope.