Does the thought of holiday parties or family gatherings make you want to hide away in your house and not come out till January? Does the idea of small talk make you cringe? Are you tired just thinking about it?
You are not alone. The holiday season brings a mixed bag of emotions. Most of us like the idea of holiday celebrations, but the reality of it may be something else altogether.
So, what can we do? (Other than climbing into flannels and pretending we didn’t get the invitation.)
I remember a similar distress some years ago over the thought of going with my husband to his work party. I usually clung to his side and if I ever found myself to be alone, I would desperately scan the room to find him again, trying to avoid being left alone to make conversation. I didn’t feel like I fit in with the other wives.
And then I was convicted about my self-focus. I realized I was very busy coming up with all the ways I was different than others instead of all the ways I was the same. I was focused on my discomfort instead of realizing that it was likely that other women were having similar conversations in their minds and maybe just as self-conscious as me.
Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.”
That year when I went to the work party, I asked God to help me think about others instead of myself. I focused on asking good questions instead of trying to be clever and tell an interesting story. And do you know what? It worked! It was much easier to engage in conversation, which ended up being overall more meaningful than previous times. Asking good questions got people talking about themselves, loosening up, smiling, and giving plenty of things to respond to with more questions or stories of my own. Guess what? I actually had fun. But more importantly, I believe I was a better reflection of Christ.
John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
I John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
When my focus was on loving others, the fear fell away. I didn’t have to be the life of the party (or hide from the party), I just needed to care more about others than I did myself. And as I did so, it got easier and easier. I made new friends, which also made it more enjoyable to go to parties.
Now, as I get older, sometimes I just feel too tired when the actual day of the get-together approaches. A night at home sounds more inviting. When that happens, I remind myself to think of others again, and I also remember that God is All-Sufficient for me. His power is made perfect in weakness. When I am weak, He is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-11) I go, asking Him expectantly to provide me with energy and a smile.
So, the next time you’re facing a social event and feeling not so up to the task, change your focus and see how many people you can make feel more comfortable and cared about. And who knows–you may be surprised at how much you actually enjoy yourself.
Note: If you need some help in the questions area, here are some possibilities. Try to ask questions that require more than “yes” or “no” for an answer. That way their answer can give you something to ask a follow-up question or offer something that you can reply with an answer or story of your own. Most people like to talk about themselves if you can just get them going. Here are some examples:
How do you know the host?
Tell me about yourself.
What’s something that made you smile today?
What was a hard part about today? (or this week)
Do you listen to any podcasts? Which are your favorites?
What do you do for a living/tell me how you spend your days.
Follow-up questions—what is hardest about that and what do you find the most satisfying?
What’s been running through your mind lately?
What’s something you’ve been working on or that you’d like to change/improve?
What’s coming up that you are looking forward to?