I like things my way.
It’s true. It has taken intention for me to learn to be flexible and generous with others’ differences. It hasn’t been an easy ride, but I really wanted to make this change so, I prayed about it. Be careful what you pray for.
Over ten years ago, I began praying for charity. As I studied, I learned that charity isn’t what we do it is how we are – a way of being made up of many traits. Hmmm Here are two that cause me trouble – long-suffering and not easily offended. They relate to flexibility and generosity with others’ weaknesses or the differences in how they manage life from how we manage life.
Yikes. How was God going to help me go from being inflexible and frequently annoyed and frustrated with others’ imperfections and differences to long-suffering and not easily offended? Well, He did what He does, He sent me to school, so to speak, Charity 101. He put me into a four-generation home. Trust me, it requires long-suffering, generosity, flexibility, and not being offended to make this work.
An Example of Long-suffering and Not Easily Offended
I had an experience last week that is a perfect example of how important flexibility or charity is in a family. As I look back on my parenting, it is glaringly clear that my lack of charity i.e., long-suffering, not easily offended, and being flexible or generous with other’s differences, caused us trouble. Oh well, we can only get there when we can get there. It is good that Christ makes up the difference in our weaknesses until they become strengths. : )
I am a very ordered person. I have a morning routine and a night routine. I am well practiced in making commitments to myself and others and then keeping them no matter what. I have practiced these skills for a long time. I like things to be where they belong! In my personal world, there are systems and order.
One morning, when I entered the bathroom that all nine of us share, while my daughter’s bathroom is being remodeled to make it more handicap accessible, I noticed that Mary’s necklaces were hung on the mirror. When we built our part of the home, I chose an out-of-the-ordinary mirror for my bathroom. It has birds and vines on it. It is supposed to be a decorative hall mirror but I like it and so it is in my bathroom. I enjoy those birds when I am brushing my teeth. : )
However, it is NOT a jewelry holder! As I sat and looked at the necklaces, I felt annoyance creeping in, but then, by choice, I stamped it out! After all, it didn’t look terrible, wasn’t in my way, and was causing no problems. I left the bathroom in one emotional piece.
Later that day, I told Don that Mary was hanging her necklaces on the mirror. He replied that he hung the necklaces there because he didn’t want them getting knotted up. The kids, both Jack and Mary, bring me their chains to be unknotted. I am good at getting the knots out. LOL
When I saw Mary, I told her what her grandpa had done. She smiled but didn’t say anything. That night when I went into the bathroom to shower, there on the mirror were three necklaces. I sat down and stared at them. I realized that even though I had never hung jewelry on the tiny birds, it looked quite nice. I also realized that when the remodel is done and my bathroom becomes my bathroom again it will look a little plainer without them. : )
This is what happens in a family when we choose to be flexible, long-suffering, and not easily offended when someone does something differently than we would. We can maintain peace within ourselves and with them. We may even find, in time, that we have grown fond of their way.
Have Greater Peace in Your Family
Recently in a conversation with my sisters on this topic, one of them said, “I caused my kids a lot of discomfort because I was so ridged in my ways.”
Then recently, a friend, in a class remarked that she realized she was making everyone miserable by forcing them to tow her line, and it was making her miserable too. She has decided to step back, in other words, become more flexible, generous, long-suffering, and less easily offended.
I love how God works. He requires us to do what we can to grow. I don’t always enjoy the process, but the results can be magical and a gift. Becoming more charitable i.e. long-suffering and not easily offended, is simple, but simple definitely doesn’t mean easy. This change requires intention and practice. But if I can make progress, and I have, then so can you.
Let’s work on flexibility, long-suffering, and not being offended (annoyed and frustrated) when things aren’t exactly as we hoped, planned, or thought they should be. It will bring greater peace to our hearts and to our families.