As soon as they got in the car his wife scooted over next to him and burst into tears of joy. All of the affirmation, praise, and appreciation that she’d longed for decades for her dad to express were being ministered deeply to her by her husband.

A powerful healing took place. She left her family feeling better that day than when she first came.

This story illustrates a creative way to protect you from your hurting family. Your husband contradicts every criticism with a positive expression of your personality and character.

This is what the Bible calls, “pouring hot coals on your enemy.” This is like doing good things for someone while you are really “thumbing your nose at them” as we might very loosely translate that term in today’s vernacular (Proverbs 25:22Romans 12:20).

I am not sure that intentionally heaping coals is a nice thing to do; but, it sure can make you feel better.

For those not married, perhaps you can partner with one of your siblings to finally stand up to your antagonizing family. Enough is enough. Spend time with the most functional ones in your family and try to build each other up so that you feel better when you leave than when you came.

Another option is to “grin and bear it.”

This option is one you must prepare for. Get your expectations in line with reality. Accept the fact that you will get hurt and rejected again. You will be in a hostile environment. Before going, consciously build a hedge of protection around yourself (Job 1:10) so that their harsh words and evil criticisms cannot penetrate your feelings and emotions and leave you rung out, devastated, and fallen on the floor.

Plan to arrive late and leave early. Expose yourself to the poisonous venom as little as possible.

Another option is simply don’t go. Again, it was holiday time. I was advising a husband and wife soon to depart Tucson for Christmas on the East Coast with her family. Several years ago she and her husband made a conscious choice to move 2,000 miles away just to get away from her painful, dysfunctional family. She related the pain she still experienced when even when her family members continued to chide her for deserting the family by moving away.

She didn’t want to relive again all the reasons she chose to get away from them in the first place. “Then, why go?” I asked her. “Because I would feel guilty for not going.”

After chatting for over an hour, it became obvious to her that nothing good could come from her going—and it was not her fault. One visit was not going to fix anything and all she would do was expose herself to more mental and emotional anguish. She made up her mind not to go before I had the opportunity to advise her likewise.

There are some families you just don’t want to grow up in, or be in.

I told her that she reminded me of Joseph. He grew up in a family filled with murder, rape, rejection, favorites and pain. His brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt when he was a teenager. Yet, he was the only one in the family who turned out all right. “You’ve made the steps to come out all right,” I said. “Maybe someday you can reconcile with your family—like Joseph did with his brothers—maybe not, but at least now is not the time.”

I hope that you can have a positive and joyful holiday experience. I hope that you have a great family and are looking forward to a great holiday season with them. I’m sorry if you family is so hurtful that you really hate to be anywhere near them at Thanksgiving and Christmas. May God give you grace and perhaps some delightful surprises with your family this holiday season.