How to Survive and Love Your Family during the Holidays

Dec 12, 2011 | Sufism

“Dear Nura,

I love my family, but I get so stressed out when I am with them during the holidays. What can I do?

Thank you.

J.K. Texas

Thank you for writing in J.K.! There are a couple of spiritual tools Sufis teach to deal with your family and maintain more peace and serenity.

1. Self-Care

First of all, identify what is happening for you. If others are annoying you, it doesn’t work to try and change them. So you have to figure out what is going on for you. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling? What am I needing in this moment?” For example, are you feeling frustrated because no one is listening to you? So you need to be heard.

If you are triggered, it’s important to know whether this is from what is happening in the moment or as a result of a childhood experience. Our guide, Sidi, teaches us that the misconceptions from childhood are one of the causes for our veils. Veils are the coverings that have accumulated over our hearts and hide our true nature which is purity, goodness, and holiness.

2. Ask God for Help

When you are stressed, this is an example of the “jalal” of Allah. Jalal means “when things are hard and there are challenges” and is activated when your ego wants wants his/her way. We are causing our own stress (jalal) because the ego is fighting and wants its way – “I want my family to not ______'” or “My family shouldn’t _______.” Because of our expectations we try to control others, which turns us away from Allah.

3. Finding the Beauty in Jalal

The beauty of experiencing the “jalal” of life when things are hard is that you can feel your neediness for Allah. You are in a position where you have an opportunity to turn to Allah for help. One way of turning to God is to allow yourself to feel needy, to feel helpless and to feel troubled. Once you feel it, you can make a choice to turn to Allah.

What is meant by turning to Allah?

It is the heart’s nature to turn.The heart can only turn to 3 places – to the world, to God or to the darkness. Turning our heart towards God means praying, supplicating and turning to God for help in your time of need and stress. Allah is the Ever Near, the Qarib. In fact, Allah is EVEN closer to you than your jugular vein! Allah is the Responsive, the Mujib. These are two qualities of God. So when you turn to your Lord, He responds by sending to you exactly the qualities that support you in your time of need.

Once you have asked for help, you need to receive from Him by breathing in what He is sending. In this way, you are receiving Allah’s help.

While the outer situation may not change, when you turn your heart to God, your internal world shifts, resulting in a realization and a larger perspective of Divine truth. It’s easier to see God and to be at peace when you draw near to Him!

~Nura Laird, MEd, Dean of Education

What are you thoughts on turning to God during your struggles with family during the holidays? What’s your greatest struggle? Tell us!