Dear Babe: You don’t need to read this one because I’m going to fail hard at it and I don’t need that kind of pressure.
I get together with a friend out in the country about once a month. It’s a beautiful drive out to her house. The last time we meandered down those country roads to Heather’s house I was blown away by all the vibrant fall colors..the deep gold-brown fields; the bright red, orange, and yellow trees standing tall against a brilliant blue sky. I kept exclaiming, “The leaves are so pretty!” and “It’s so pretty out here!”- so much so that the seven-year old in the back seat made fun of me.
Heather’s home isn’t close but it’s always worth the time it takes to get there. Not only does Audrey love playing Nerf Battles and games with Heather’s two sons; Heather always feeds us really yummy lunch (mmm, potato soup and sourdough focaccia). But what really fills me up is the conversation she and I have while the kids are chasing each other around the house.
Do you have friends who always leave you with the desire to push closer into the Lord? I have a couple, and Heather is definitely one of them. I’m always learning from her; whether about parenting or bread making or just plain obedience to God, no matter the situation. Seeing the way her family seeks God gets me excited to do the same.
Our last visit, the place we landed was “creating Christian community”; and the idea that it must start in the home. What good is it, after all, to pour yourself out; bending over backwards to extend hospitality to others if you neglect to do the same with the little community you do everyday life with? You know; your family? Doesn’t it make sense to start there?
As wonderful as it is to invite others in (and we should!), we neglect our most obvious obligation if we are not first loving our family well. And when it comes to extending hospitality and creating Christian community within my own home, I definitely have some things I could work on!
I think there are a few ingredients to a welcoming home that honors the Lord: cleanliness, beauty (whatever that means to your family!), delicious, nourishing meals, and, most importantly, a safe, loving, kind, God-honoring attitude towards each member of the family.
I will say, I think our home itself is warm and inviting. I purged a bunch of “stuff” early on in our marriage and that’s made it so much easier to enjoy what we do have and to keep it clean! Less clutter means less work.
I also try to make dinner almost every night and we always eat together. Sometimes we talk about our day. Sometimes we watch “Little House on the Prairie.” We also have a sweet bedtime routine with Audrey. She reads to us out of a chapter book (right now we’re knee-deep in “On the Banks of Plum Creek) and then we say our prayers together.
So some things are already going well. But here’s where I need improvement:
I have a tendency to give voice to every little complaint when my people do things I wish they wouldn’t. It’s less of a tendency and more of a compulsion, actually. While I don’t want to go too far in the other direction and stuff my feelings down, I could definitely make an effort keep my cool and relax when it’s not a big deal; not needing everything to be done according to my expectations or timeline. I did spend all day cleaning, and you did just throw an armful of stuff on the kitchen counter without a backward glance. But it’s going to be okay.
In other words; I need to take a chill pill. I need Jesus to help me extend patience and grace to my family. I desire to honor my husband more, acknowledging all the hard work he does and sacrifices he gladly makes on a daily basis. I long to parent with a gentle spirit (and loving discernment and discipline) as I undertake the privilege of helping raise the sweet girl God has blessed us with. After all, I don’t want Ben and Audrey to feel they’d rather live on the corner of our roof. It’s a Cape Cod. It wouldn’t go well.
Thankfully, my family is pretty awesome, which makes the task easier, if not easy. I want them, when they think of me, to know how much I love and treasure them. I don’t want them to feel I’m always finding a reason to be disappointed. It makes me sad just to say that. But I’m grateful for all the time I have left to course correct and get it right.
I love how God is so patient and full of grace when it comes to us, and I truly want to model that in my family. I’m going to fail hard, but I’m going to do it anyway.
As I said earlier, I think it’s important to master being kind and loving with the people closest to us first. Then we can invite others into that warm, welcoming, safe space and show them what true Christian community looks like.
Fails and all.