You never pay attention to what I'm saying.
We have to watch our words. Unkind words can tear people apart, and they can break a marriage. As Christian women we should practice using words that are constructive rather than destructive. We need to focus on building up instead of tearing down.
It's so easy to give out, but it's hard to accept censure, isn't it? At times, we can really dish it out, can't we? But if we are attacked by harsh words we are deeply offended. Both times the problem lies in the way we handle the situation.
We often go wrong by targeting the person and not the problem. We will say something like, "You never..." or "You always..." do this or that. Think of it from the other's point of view, if someone tells you that you never or you always do this or that, aren't you offended?
A well-meaning friend threw me out of balance a while ago. She criticized one of my habits. First I was offended and went into defence mode. Then I decided to tackle the problem. I made some progress but only with baby steps. No, I'm far from avoiding this particular habit. Honestly? Each time I sense that someone shows the slightest attempt to mention it I'm thrown back to the beginning again. Did I need to hear the criticism? Perhaps. Was it okay for her to attack me and not my problem? No. Did she intentionally use hurtful words? I don't think so.
Unkind and destructive words can come out in a flash. In some cases the offended person will eventually get over it. In other cases unfit words leave deep cuts behind. By all means we need to target the problem itself and not the person. Sometimes that isn't quite as easy to do, I know. Here are just two ideas how to attack the problem and not the person:
The toothpaste problem: Are you annoyed because the tube of toothpaste in your bathroom looks the way it does - all but nice and neatly squeezed? >> Don't get annoyed at the people using it. Get a toothpast roller (also called squeezer) to tackle the problem.
The laundry problem: Tired of having to collect all the socks and shirts off the floors and out of each room? Buy a few extra popup or foldable laundry hampers. They are available in many nice colors. Put one in each bedroom. Tell each family member that only the clothes that are in the hampers will be taken to the laundry room to be washed, dried, folded, and brought back to the rooms.
It’s about time to go back into the garden and pull some weeds. My mom actually enjoyed pulling weeds. You could literally see the joy in her face after she had managed to get to the root of each weed. Something I did not inherit, I’m afraid.
However, it is a job we will have to do. As long as we are on this earth we have to continue weeding. No matter how much we will ignore the weeds in our gardens, they will not disappear by it. They will grow as quick as lightning. The longer we procrastinate pulling them out the more stubborn they become; until they are almost unmanageable to handle.
As it is with weeds, so it is with problems in our families. What will start out small, if left unnoticed, will grow bigger and bigger and turn into a real threat for us and our loved ones.
One way of keeping them under control is through prayer and praises to God. Now what could offer us a better pattern for prayer than the Psalms? They are inspired by the One who knows all about us and our problems. Many who have gone before us have used these very words to express their needs and their helplessness to God. They have used them to offer their heartfelt praises to the LORD.
Girl, pull the weeds early enough to avoid unnecessary hardships in your life. However, if the weeds have become so unbearable and unmanageable, don’t despair. Instead, take the Word of God and sit down in a quiet spot — perhaps right now — and read, meditate on, and pray the Psalms.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring:
The rain also covers it with pools.
(Psalm 84:5-6 NKJV)
When taking advice from other homemakers we have to discern between principles and methods.
The following is not an exhaustive but a list of some of the principles for homemaking:
The methods of fulfilling the principles of homemaking may vary from homemaker to homemaker. While one woman accomplishes her tasks in a total different way than another woman would do them, she still fulfills her duty by doing what is required of her.
One homemaker cleans her house from front to back every day. Another cleans the family home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The first one could do so because she has little children and two dogs at home. The other could do so because her children are grown ups and moved out already. Principle: keep the home clean. Method: depending on the individual family.
One homemaker cooks pasta with sauce and vegetables every weekday. Another brings fancy meals to the table each day of the week. The first one could do so because she has only a small family budget available. The other could do so because money is not an issue in her home. Principle: feed the family. Method: depending on the individual family.
One homemaker's eighty-year-old mother-in-law has fallen ill and is in need of special care so she is living with the family now. The homemaker lets her children watch a DVD after they have finished homework together. Another takes her children to the park or to a movie twice a week after their homework is done. Principle: look after your children. Method: depending on the individual family.
These are general examples. Using your own life experience, I'm sure you can think of more. It's so easy to impose one or the other of our methods on other women. But they may not have the tools, the upbringing or the financial resources that we have. I've caught myself judging other women for doing some things another way... Later on I've read a book by Nancy Wilson called The Fruit Of Her Hands in which she explains the difference between principles and methods quite well.
In giving advice to others let us remember that just because a method of doing something seems best for us and our family doesn't mean that another woman and her family have to use the exact same method. We need to be gentle and understanding when teaching younger women. We have to avoid the trap of calling a method a principle. Let them find their best way of accomplishing tasks at home.