When I gave birth four months ago, I was emotionally drained and physically tired. I wasn’t very pleasant to be around. Edric and the kids missed my usually jolly self. But I thought, hey, I just gave birth, I don’t want added stress in my life from anyone. So if people around me didn’t treat me with care or thoughtfulness, I resented it. And they felt it.
Photo source: http://lovehurts.50webs.com
I really don’t want to be an eggshell kind of wife, mother or friend. But the reality is when I’m not spirit-filled I can be moody and temperamental. I can have this attitude of entitlement especially towards Edric and the kids. Cater to me, consider my feelings, don’t do anything to upset me…etc. It’s selfish.
And everytime I start to think of my rights, what is due me, I get into relational trouble. I become a life-sucker instead of a life-giver.
God designed women to be lifegivers of the home. When we are positive and joyful, we bring light into the lives of those around us. But when we are negative, irritable, contentious, and easily angered, home becomes a hostile and toxic environment.
A few days ago, my parents got their airconditioners cleaned by a technician. Aftewards, the guy commented to their househelp that my parents seemed to be such kind bosses. Apparently, he had cleaned other so-called Christian’s homes and he noticed that the women of these homes (the wives) yelled at their househelp and cursed at them, too.
My first thought was, as Christians, we do a shameful amount of damage to the name of Jesus Christ. How can we attract people to Jesus if we live with this kind of hypocrisy, especially in our homes?
The Bible tells us, we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Whenever I remember this passage I am convicted to be careful about my actions and behavior, especially my patience towards the people in my home. Home isn’t a place where I have the liberty to act selfishly, where others have to walk on eggshells around me. In fact it should be the place where I am most consistent – where what I believe about Christ and Christ-likeness are congruent. The atmosphere I cultivate with my presence should be fun, light, and happy.
Some years ago, I hired a lady to work for me that was a little goobelly-goops in the head. That word is my term to describe someone who is unable to apply logical reasoning during decision making.
For example, I created a menu for our home. I handed her the menu for the week and explicitly told her to follow it. I did my groceries based on the meals I had indicated there so it was imperative she stuck to the menu. However, I came home to find that she had cooked something totally different. When I asked her why, she said, “Because I wanted to.”
“Didn’t I tell you to follow the menu?” And she just kind of looked at me blankly. It was not a look of defiance, either. It was more like, Uh…, to which my thought was, Grr…
Another time I asked her to take my three year old, Elijah, to the park. (This was obviously years ago!). She had been to this park a number of occasions, walking from my parent’s place to get there. It was about a 10-minute walk. When we got to the park, I asked her, “Are you sure you know how to get back home?” She said, “yes, mam.”
“Are you sure?” I asked again because she didn’t seem that sure. Then she added, “Yes.” But she continued, “Will I leave Elijah here?”
Huh?! Leave a four year old at a park?!
I was flabbergasted! “Of course not! You have to stay with him,” was my response.
When I got back from my errand, they were safe and sound at my mom and dad’s. Miracle. I asked her, “Did you have a hard time finding your way home?”
“No, I just asked Elijah. He said turn here, turn there…”
This cracked me up. I could picture my little Elijah leading the way for her. Thank God he was very articulate at that age!
I have other crazy stories about her. During a party, she put shredded carrots in place of cheese for the taco salad! Instead of asking me if we had more cheese, her logic was, they seemed to be the same color. Eh?
She was also in love with one of the guards in our condo. I kept on telling her it wasn’t okay because he was married but she would semi-stalk him. It was the talk of the condo among the househelp and guards, too.
One of the last straws was when she had a hair-pulling cat fight with a neighbor’s househelp and we had to mediate the issue between two households. Edric and I were very embarrassed.
She wasn’t with us too long. I tried to help her grow as a person and I could’ve put in more effort into doing so but I was a mom of two at that point and needed someone more dependable. When there was an opportunity for her to visit her family in the province, I didn’t invite her to come back to work for us. She is still a friend of the family and came to see the kids at least once since she left to work abroad. Yes, she found work as a caregiver abroad – better opportunity and pay, so good for her!
By God’s grace, as maddening as her incidences were when she worked for us, I never yelled at her. I cried in my room and expressed to Edric how exasperated I was several times but it was really the Holy Spirit who kept me from totally losing it verbally in front of her. She knew that Edric and I were followers of Jesus and so did our other househelp. I didn’t want to misrepresent his name by causing either of them to stumble. Instead, we would sit down with them and give them objective evaluations on what they were doing well and what they had to improve on.
With my kids, however, it is another story. I find myself more prone to irritation when they don’t follow instructions or when they make mistakes. So I have to be extra careful and remember that my responses and attitudes can wound them and destroy the work of the Lord in their lives.
Two days ago, I asked Elijah to come shopping with me. He doesn’t necessarily like the shopping, but he was eager to be with me. He’s a time guy. He did great until the last part where he started to get bored and restless. When I was looking for clothes for Catalina, he spilled chocolate milk on items that I wasn’t intending to buy. Ack. The vendor was visible upset, and I was annoyed, too. I ended up having to purchase a pair of neon pants that weren’t that cute.
Elijah felt badly and apologized several times, “I’m sorry, mom.” “Yup, so am I.” I meant to say it with a measure of gravity. I shouldn’t have but I did. And I noticed that Elijah’s countenance fell further. The poor guy had endured 3 hours of shopping by this point so I needed to give him some credit!
It really wasn’t that big a deal. There was no malicious intent on his part when the milk spilled. I didn’t want him to carry unnecessary guilt so I had to assure him, “It’s okay, it was just an accident,” and I put my arm around him. He perked up right away and we moved on.
Our children are very sensitive to Edric and I. They know when we are tired, upset, annoyed, angry, or unhappy. Some of these feelings are justified but not when we act on them in a self-centered and unloving way, especially towards one another or our kids. I don’t ever want my children to feel tense and on edge around us, like they have to watch whatever they say or do because we are emotionally volatile. I want them to have the freedom to enjoy being with us.
Personally, I feel that a good indication of whether our children feel at ease in our presence is to observe them when we move about the home or sit at the dinner table. Do our children like to linger in our company? Do they open up and engage in conversation? Do they laugh and smile often? If we can answer yes, then praise God! If not, then perhaps we need to consider what sort of atmosphere characterizes our home and how it affects the people in it, especially our spouse and children. Do our loved ones feel like they have to walk on eggshells around us or are they energized and encouraged when they are with us?