Thursday, September 1, 2011

On Being Pleasant

Confession: I haven't been a particularly pleasant person to be around the past few days. I hope you wouldn't notice this outside of my home, but my family would probably attest to the fact that I've been short and snappy with them--and things in general--more often than not.

Have I felt justified? Sure. I may have plenty of reasons for being unpleasant, but those don't matter. I need to be pleasant. In fact, I think we are all called to be. Here's a few good reasons why:
  • 1 Cor. 13:4, 5--"Love is patient, love is kind...It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs."
  • Ephesians 4:32--"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
  • 1 Thess. 5:15--"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (I think the "praying continually" is where we gain the grace and find the strength to fulfill all that this verse calls us to.)
  • Titus 2:5 younger women are called "to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind..." (bold mine)
  • Gal. 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
 I read this today and think it also ties in well (and is a great verse when it comes to training our children:
"A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult." (Proverbs 12:16)

I think what it boils down to is--when we try to take on too much, we too easily snap. I didn't realize it fully until my mom said she feels like I'm on overload (definition: "too load too heavily, an excessive load.")
Gosh. I don't feel like I'm loaded too heavily or carrying an excessive load (after all, I just delivered our seven pound baby!).

Loving my husband and my children, looking after our needs and caring for my home are not heavy burdens; they are my calling and my delight. But somewhere in there the transmission went on the fritz. Nothing that can't be repaired with a healthy dose of prayer, Scripture, reflection, great heart-to-heart talks with my husband and even with the children.

Today I knew I had to lighten the load. At first, I felt a little anxious taking large chunks of time away from responsibilities inside the house to spend time enjoying the beautiful day outside with my kids. But then I realized being with them was exactly what I needed to be doing. So we took blankets, a book, the baby, and a big cup of water and spent the entire afternoon outside on the lawn doing nothing but being together and enjoying each other. And it was so refreshing.

I reread this today, and it says it all so perfectly:
"When your first baby was born, chances are you treated him with the utmost kindness and careful respect. I'm willing to bet that child never heard you yell for the first couple of years. But as he grew and you added to your family, as the pressure to meet the needs of many individuals mounted, you became a taskmaster. The focus in your relationship shifted in subtle waves over time. Now, you are utterly exhausted and those relationships you hold most dear have deteriorated...
We are in authority over our children. God put us there. That does not mean that we must be tyrants. That does not give us license to berate, belittle, or scream at them. That does not allow us to excuse our own weakness and impatience. Remember: Charity, above all. Be a friend to your child. Listen with interest. Speak with courtesy. Think of him as a friend...
What does this have to do with burnout? Everything. When you treat your children as treasured friends, so much of the tension that has built in your household will dissipate. You will begin to relax and enjoy your role as a mother. You will recapture the exuberance and innocence of those early days. You will once again delight in the humorous antics and refreshing sweetness of little children. You will savor long and interesting conversations with a young teenager who is just beginning to make sense of the world. Mama will be happier, and so will her children"--Elizabeth Foss, Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home
To sum it up: Stress over lesser things stopped me from savoring those who matter to me most. It made me uptight and unpleasant. I think I've got it lined out now. These experiences are all profitable if we reflect on them and grow in grace, becoming more Christlike, through them.


  1. Thank you for the reminder. I've found myself being shorter with my family than I should the last few weeks. I think that lack of sleep (or fragmented sleep) can have a definite effect on your attitude, as well. I know that has been the case for me with having an infant around the house.

    Blessings to you today!

  2. Great advice! I always appreciate the Scripture on which you base it. :) I definitely needed this today!

  3. Great thoughts for today! The pressure I've put on myself to get lots of things done before baby arrives have made me a not-so-pleasant mama lately. I needed the reminder that these things that seem to be important (cooking for the freezer, cleaning, etc.) so I can enjoy that precious newborn time with my family are not really all that important, compared to loving my family. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and enjoy my family.

  4. Thank you for this, my temper has flared more in the past 2 weeks than I can recall in all of my 5 and a half year olds life. I know the main reason is due to lack of connection with the Father. My daughter started kindergarten 2 and a half weeks ago, and my 2 year old son has moved to a big boy bed from his crib, so there has also been a lot of sleeping lacking from everyone. I think that it has all added up, by husband agrees a lot of transition, but nothing can replace that time with the Father, got to have it!

  5. Wonderful thoughts. It's so easy to become task oriented and push an agenda contrary to our value system. I definitely snap more easily when operating on overload. I'm so glad you had the clarity to step back and enjoy time with your beautiful family - you're an inspiration to me!