Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Better is a dry morsel with quiet

    than a house full of feasting with strife. (Proverbs 17:1)

It’s better to be eating crackers in a peaceful house than dining on lobster in a house full of contention! How hard it is, especially when you have a house full of children, to maintain peace! But I don’t think this verse is speaking of regular family noise. The dictionary defines strife as “bitter conflict.” This brings to mind a house in which the husband and wife are locked in a pattern of discord, where sarcasm or sniping has become a habitual norm. A house in which the children are allowed to verbally abuse each other. How easy it is to get into a negative spiral where neither spouse has something kind to say and where children are constantly picking on each other!

Often we have little problem remembering to treat strangers with courtesy and good manners, but how seldom do we apply common courtesies at home? Early in our marriage, after the girls were born, the LORD showed me that Don and I were beginning to develop a negative pattern of complaining about each other. If we had a disagreement, I would put on a sullen face and give him the silent treatment or huff and puff until he noticed. There were plenty of sarcastic remarks flowing from my mouth. 

Thankfully, the LORD graciously showed me what was happening, and prompted me to turn it around. All it took was one kind remark from me to reverse the pattern! A simple “Thank you” for something like taking out the trash was all it took. Have you ever noticed that men really NEED to be thanked? I don’t understand it, because I never expected a thank you for the numerous things I did every day around the house, but for some reason, whenever Don had done a chore, he needed me to thank him! He would say, “Did you see that I watered the plants?” I would come back with a, “Did you see that I did the dishes, did the laundry, did the marketing, got the meals, and took care of the kids all without asking you to notice???” { NOTE: that would be the NEGATIVE exchange!!! }

So, when the LORD showed me that Don actually NEEDED thanks, I began to make a concerted effort to show him how much I appreciated what he did for us. It’s amazing how simple it was! And the bonus was that it actually opened my eyes to the many little things he was doing daily to take care of our family.

It’s not that we don’t still argue! We can do plenty of that! But I try to stay away from remarks that crush his spirit - and I really try to get beyond the anger quickly rather than luxuriating in it! I learned this really through my daughters:

Years ago, when Molly was about 8 and Emmy was about 6, I was the children’s supervisor in Bible Study Fellowship (if you don’t know about BSF, you need to contact me so I can direct you to their amazing Bible studies). I was doing my lesson while the girls were playing in the family room. The verses I was focused on were Ephesians 4:26-27

In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (NIV 1984)

I called the girls over to me and read the verses to them and explained that when we argue with each other we need to get over it and make up quickly, because if we carry on our anger we are giving Satan a foothold in our family. Not a week later, as I was again doing my Bible study in the dining room, I heard the girls arguing about something and then saw Emmy march up the stairs in a huff and slam her door. I decided to let it go. About five minutes later, Emmy came downstairs and grabbed Molly by the hand and took her up to the room.

Within a few seconds, Molly leaned over the railing and called, “Mom! You need to come up here and see what Emmy wrote!” So I got up and investigated. Emmy had written on the wipe board in her room, “I will not let Satan make me mad. I am sorry, Molly.” I was so excited that she had internalized the verse I’d shared with them! So I had them make a bookmark for my Bible on an index card. Molly copied the verses from Ephesians on one side, and Emmy copied what she had written on the board on the other. It was a great reminder to me about the need for peace and the way to maintain it in a home!

Have you seen a negative pattern begin in your home? You can reverse it! Ask God to show you all of the ways in which you are part of the problem, then seek opportunities to turn it around through simple kindness! If you are having strife with your spouse, don’t let it go on for days, giving the cold shoulder and withholding affection. Be the one to begin the change. If your children are constantly arguing, don’t accept that as the norm. Help them find ways to end their conflicts quickly and prayerfully. Model it for them! How much better to live in a house with peace!  

No comments:

Post a Comment