When this time of quarantine is all over, I hope and pray that as followers of Christ, we come out more like Him!
I find myself opening my curtains more often, letting the light stream in. I daydream of welcoming neighbors in through my front door, sitting and chatting. I miss hugs from friends and family. We were made for community, connection, and light. When we come out from under this dark time of people fasting, I hope and pray we come out savoring connection. As I went for my daily walk the other day, I heard the local church bells playing God Bless America. I instantly teared up. Memories of climbing up those creaky, twirling steps to my Grandmother’s church attic blasted my mind. She would play those church bells beautifully. Memories remind us of special times of life. Find ways to connect. Find ways to give hope. Find ways to make music. We need one another.
Friendship is such a valuable gift from God! It is fairly easy to choose your friends outside of your home. For the most part, you have control over who you choose to be friends with and spend time with. This isn’t the case with the people we live with. We did not choose our family (apart from our parents choosing one another).
Right now, with social distancing in place, most of us are away from extended family and friends. Guess what? That means we are stuck with our immediate family for the unforeseeable future! If we aren’t friends with our children and spouse, we are going to feel even more lonely!
For the most part, our family has adjusted to this time fairly well. We have three children, and they tend to pair up and leave the third sibling out of the loop. If you have an odd number of children, does that typically happen within your home? We have also seen how the enemy can cause disagreements about how we parent to try and divide us as a couple. We must strive to not let this happen, especially during this time.
We all are feeling cooped up and stir crazy and that means fuses are short. Regardless of these emotions, home should always be a safe place! What are we to do with all of this pent-up emotion, frustration, and uncertainty?
Here are five ways we can strive to build friendship with the people in our own home:
SET THE EXAMPLE
Parents, we must stay close to our spouse emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Being cooped up together can cause normal, everyday annoyances to seem, well, more annoying. We must make every effort to set an example with us first. How are we talking to one another? Are we making time for date nights? If you have small children, this might look like playing a game, or watching a movie together after the kids go to bed. If your children are old enough, make time to go for a drive together once a week. Grab take out and support a local, small business! If we are testy with one another, our children will pick up on it! Laugh together! Laughter is the best medicine during times of stress.
Be a friend first. Teach your children that their siblings might not always be likable. This is where showing grace comes in. Grace is a gift from God, given through Jesus, His Son. According to the bible, it is a supernatural power given to us as His children. It has been explained by some as the ability to respond with virtuous impulses! We could all extend more virtuous impulses. It is also said to be the freely given, unmerited favor, and love of God. If we are showing grace to our brother or sister in a practical way, it would look like loving and showing kindness to them even when they are not necessarily deserving it.
Romans 5:20b says,
But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
We will all do better to become more like Christ and grow more fruitful within our homes by showing grace to one another!
Fuses are short and tempers are higher than normal these days. It has been said that we take out our frustrations and tend to be abusive with our words to the people we love the most. This can be especially true when we can’t get away from one another. Bitterness that has been hidden for years, might come out during this time. Things that we have been thinking, but not speaking, may find their way off our lips into the ears of those closest to us. We must practice patience with one another. If we don’t, we have the ability to permanently damage the relationships that are the most valuable to us!
We must not begin our day with the broken pieces of yesterday. Each day needs to be a fresh start. We all need and want a fresh start, so give that to others! Don’t hold onto grudges. Get into the Word of God daily to find out how to be a patient spouse or sibling. Our renewed attitudes will brighten the countenance of others, and our homes will be cheerier.
2 Corinthians 2:14 says,
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
The only way to be patient, is to be controlled by the Spirit of God. When we walk in the Spirit, we will spread Christ’s beautiful fragrance within our household.
UTILIZE YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS
Talk about spiritual gifts with your family. You could even set a time to take the spiritual gifts test individually and then talk about the results as a family. Help your young children and talk about ways you can use your spiritual gifts within your own home.
I love the quote by Mother Teresa,
If you want to change the world, go home, and love your family.
We are all forced to be at home with our family, so why not change the world by learning to love them better? This comes with being patient with each other.
CHOOSE LOVE ABOVE FEELINGS
The love we show our family should never be compromised or lacking. We need to express our love for our spouse and kids more often. Verbally and physically. One on one attention is needed. The more we invest in loving and spending time with each other, the easier it will be to like one another during this crazy time of life.
There will always be challenges in relationships. With our three children, they are all at different ages and stages of life. We have an eight-year-old boy, an eleven-year-old boy, and a thirteen-year-old girl. Each stage of our children’s development is full of its own challenges. Our children will try to pull us into their emotional instability, but as parents, we need to be a calm and steady front for them (easier said than done, I know). We need to verbalize why we love each other, even if we are feeling like we don’t like the other person at the moment.
Make a plan to show love to one another. If we aren’t purposeful, we can get caught in the busy seasons of life and overlook the small acts of love. Now more than ever is a great time to start practicing these acts of love. Put petty annoyances and feelings aside and choose to love each other.
A “wait until you feel it love” is not at all biblically based. We see this type of love in Hollywood, but it shouldn’t be the case as children of God. Practically speaking, it should look like this:
- Love your brother as yourself, even if he has left you out or hurt you.
- Love your spouse as yourself, even if they are hitting every button and doing every pet peeve that bothers you. Do not give them the silent treatment.
- Love your sister as yourself, even if she is being overly emotional and testy. Include her and pay attention to her.
- Love your son as yourself, even if he is being angry and irrational. Give him a hug, even if he is resisting.
- Love your daughter as yourself, even if she is going through an unruly, hormonally challenging time. Show her kindness, instead of storming off yourself.
Not feeling like loving our family, is not an excuse to disobey God’s command.
Matthew 22:37-39 says,
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
I hope these five ways to build friendship within your home was helpful to you. I know that this was a great reminder for me while writing this post. We all can improve on loving a being kind to others, especially those within our own home. What a great time to work on these virtues and truths! I asked my children what makes a good friend, and here were some of their responses.
It is someone you can trust.
A good person all around.
A nice person who doesn’t forget about you.
A friend is someone that cooperates with others.
A friend will always be on your side.
A friend shows the right way to live according to God.
A friend is honest, nice, and kind.
A friend is funny and has fun together.
A friend is loyal and trustworthy.
A friend builds others up and doesn’t tear them down.
If all these things are true for what our kids want a friend to be to them, shouldn’t we be working on these same things towards others within our own home? Food for thought!