Friendly Not Feisty {are you a friendly mom?}

friendly.feisty“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” I Peter 4:8-9 (NIV)

“Okay ladies,” the guest speaker urged as she wrapped up her talk to my moms group that night, “Now go home and be friendly in your homes.”

Ouch! Had she been in my home just a few hours earlier? “Friendly” was far from the way I had acted toward my brood. Unkind? Yes. Snippy? Certainly. Even caustic and cutting? Well, if I were honest, I’d have to declare a resounding yes.

Just what made this Jesus-professing mama behave in such an un-Christ-like manner earlier that evening? Had someone acted rudely toward me? Did my kids disrespect me or my husband utter something hurtful? Just what pushed my interior emotional buttons and sent me verbally over the edge?

Soiled socks. Smeared strawberry jam. Trailing bread crumbs. Dirty silverware and plates. And notebooks.

Oh, it wasn’t just the presence of these items that sent ugly words soaring out of my mouth. It was the fact that, just moments earlier, I had spent vast time and great effort getting our great room spic-and-span clean. That meant a living area devoid of clutter, kitchen counters and tables wiped, all floors vacuumed and surfaces dusted. I wanted the house tidied up so my husband and kids could just relax while I was gone.

Then, in the short time it took to change from my daytime outfit of jeans and a t-shirt into something more suited for a night with the girls, spruce up my hair, add a dab of make-up and grab my purse, my kiddos had, in my eyes, completely undone all my hard work! They’d whipped off their socks, made a snack of toasted homemade bread slathered with strawberry jam and strewn their weekly scripture memory books from a program at church all over the place. It made my mama blood boil and resulted in feisty, not friendly words.

I was working on a book on hospitality at the time and had been unpacking the above verse for my readers. I wanted to drive home the fact that hospitality—using our homes and lives as avenues of God’s care for others—and love—the sacrificial placing of another human being above yourself—are closely connected. And, the most important element, we must both love and offer hospitality to others without grumbling. You know, be friendly!

Now, for the most part, aren’t we able to do that when we have guests in our home? We smile and serve and really don’t get upset at crumbs and such. We happily wipe them up. Why is this so? And on a grander scale, why do we find it much easier to be friendly to complete strangers than to our own flesh and blood? Do our tempers stay in check with the grocery store cashier or even the dentist (whom I hate to see twice each year, for crying out loud!)?

Why is it so easy to snap at our kids, give our husbands the cold shoulder, or roll our eyes at a dear family member, but remain gracious with those we meet in public, even when they do something that really grinds us?

I fear that many of us live out just such a contradiction in our daily lives. And just what lasting pictures are our cherished children depositing into their memory banks? “Mom held it together when the dry cleaners completely ruined her favorite sweater, but she yelled at me for accidentally spilling grape juice on the floor.” Oh, sisters, this should not be!

Perhaps it is time to offer some friendly hospitality to the members of our own home; to keep our tempers in check and our grumbling at bay; to let perfect love wash over a multitude of sins. Not the jelly-smeared, crumb-laden kind, but the hideous-word-hurling, mama-mouthed variety.

Oh may we Jesus-lovin’ women choose to hesitate before we hurl. Rather than feisty, may we be friendly instead.

Blessings,

Karen Ehman, KarenEhman.com

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Comments

  1. says

    I have been thinking a great deal about just this subject. Sometimes it feels like those words fly out of my mouth before my mind has even had time to process and then it (my mind) begins yelling at my mouth to stop. It is a struggle I am working on. Thank you for this encouragement.

  2. Marie says

    So are you saying that, my family is allowed to make a mess of my hard work? And all I am allowed to do is love them by cleaning up, again and again? That is insanity! Do you maybe have other ideas on responses? I love serving my family and yes I clean and maintain 90% of the time witout grumbling. But when I get tired and worn down of the never-ending-repetitive tasks, the monster mamma comes out.
    I find that asking or telling them to clean up after themselves, just result in me asking it over and over. No progress is made. I mean they do cleanup, but then move on to another thing and make yet another mess that I. Need to remind them to clean up. “We are not pigs.” Is said alot around here.
    So what is the solution? I am not a maid.

    • Diane says

      That’s a very good point Marie! It’s so hard to balance these things! I admire your dedication, as I do not have the patience to do that 90% without grumbling. I am currently struggling with this issue myself (and have been for years)! However, I believe Gina said it well, when she said “it is not about letting them get away with it but how we respond”. We need to discipline and teach our children to become responsible adults! I believe giving them chores and responsibilities- making them help out around the house (age appropriately of course) is one way to do that. So, the idea is not to be our children’s maid. But to respond in a Christ-like way, when they mess up. We can’t actually control our children (nor should we try), we are only supposed to control ourselves. Hope this helps.

      • Marie says

        Yes, thank you. We do have chores for the children, they only get done when I am enforcing it upon them. We have a chart system too. But this is where I fail. I am not consistently making them do the chores. I should, I know, it will make life easier on the long run. Some days I just lack the patience to supervise my child do a job for 30mins that I can do in 10 or less. I guess this where I need to pray for more patience…

    • Karen Ehman says

      Marie- Absolutely not! My children were very young at the time and were just being children. I had unrealistic expectations and when they did make a mess, instead of gently instructing them what was expected and then lovingly following through on consequences, I yelled at them. It is important to train our kids how to pick up after themselves. This article was seeking to address our attitude as we do so. I am amazed how much more kindly I can speak to strangers them to the members of my own family sometime. Especially when they make a mess by accident. Then I should be gracious and not grumpy. And I am with you on the “maid” point. I tell my kids often that I am their mom and not their maid. :-)

      • Marie says

        Maybe it is the consequences part of it that I am lacking. There is no consequence for throwing your coat on the floor. Except that Mom will tell you to pick it up, If you are not around Mom just picks it up anyways. Because it will get stepped on by muddy boots, then Mom not only has to pick it up, but also wash it….I keep on telling myself, this too shall pass and when my kids have left and my house is clean and tidy, I will miss it.
        But I understand the attitude part of it. I find a bad attitude goes hand-in-hand with sleep depravation and tiredness.

  3. Amy says

    this is what I needed to hear. I am so at fault for this. I don’t know why I get so upset when I see the house disarray. But I do. I don’t see the joy of having a family to have a messy house. I just see the messy house, work done in vain in my opinion. God has really been what feels like a beating. Between the blogs I have been reading, Sunday school and church sermons. Apparently my stubbornness has caused me not to see what God wants me to see and learn. so thanks again

  4. Gina Winn says

    Were you somehow spying on me last night? My kids are off school this week and I came home from work yesterday to a house that looked like a bomb went off. My response was much less than loving and for the hour it took me to clean the kitchen I rehearsed the lecture and future punishments. The more I rehearsed, the worse it got. I am going to pray about this and think about it more but believe it is not about letting them get away with it but how we respond. And likely, when we respond with a gentle answer they will respond much better. Thank you for such wonderful wisdom.

  5. Deanna Michaels says

    Friendly but not feisty! Thanks for the great reminder. I’m working on being consistent and kind but not letting my temper or frustration get the best of me. I need to hesitate before I hurl. Good words.

  6. says

    I believe we find it easier to get upset at our children and husband because in our home is where we can show our weakness and not feel judge for it. However, by doing so we hurt the people closes to us and most times push them away from us.

    We try not to show our weakness to the world because we want to come off as being strong and in control. As mothers, the world tells us that we need to be strong, wear many hats and do it with a smile. But we are human and only God can help us to love our families and show them, and ourselves, the respect they rightful deserves.

    Peace to all.

  7. Dionna Sanchez says

    I love this. I live with beloveds who have a great dry, SASSY sense of humor. Sometimes that can cross a line – I adore the be friendly not fiesty motto!

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