Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Love Is Not Rude

Tim and I stayed up late catching up on a missed episode of Revolution on the laptop. We are semi-wireless around here. If my technologically impaired mind has correctly assessed the situation, we have wireless Internet but a wired printer. Our rule is this: If you move the laptop, you plug it back in when you're done. Well, I didn't plug. It was late, and I was tired.

Dave came home. It was even later, and he was even more tired. And he had something he had to print. And he couldn't do it.

The next morning my sweet husband called me out on it.

Now you might be familiar with that split second in which one is suspended between The Kind Response and The Angry Retort. I battle to find The Kind Response, but The Angry Retorts? Sadly, they are forever poised on the tip of my tongue.

And I guess you've never left the computer out?

Yeah, well if you had come home earlier . . .

And who did the dishes, finished the laundry, birthed these kids, nursed them, managed to get them potty trained?

In a moment of grace, I managed to locate the mute button on all these responses and instead simply said, "You're right. Sorry about that."

Argument aborted.

As we rub shoulders with family members day after day, year after year, we face a never ending supply of opportunities to choose the kind response over the rude one, the gentle over the harsh. As a former teacher, I sometimes imagine what it would be like to get a report card evaluating my responses. After little reflection -- very little reflection -- I conclude that, really, I could live without that sort of reality check.

I think I'd only gulp hard and gulp hard.

The kids have often asked me if I'd ever want to do a reality t.v. show. Are you kidding? With the state of my laundry room? That alone would nix reality t.v. for me. And then there would be the angry glances and the curt responses.

I'll pass on reality t.v..

1 Corinthians 13 is a poetic how-to manual for family life:

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not boast. It does not envy. It is not proud.

It's the little things: Do I wipe up that spill or leave it? Block someone in or park on the other side of the house? Close the door, fill up the gas tank, put the cap back on, put the seat back down?

Yesterday I walked into the bathroom to find sneakers and nasty socks left in there by the boy who had just showered.

"Kolbe, put you shoes away," I called into the next room.

"You know, Kel" Dave suggested, "you could to add 'please' when you say that."

And he was right.

Everyone gets cranky, of course. Everyone has a bad moment or a bad day or even a bad week. But what, I ask myself, is my usual response? Am I habitually grouchy or sharp, loving or thoughtful?

One of the kids is typically quiet in the morning. Another is always cuddly. A third is universally cheerful. And then there's Grouchy -- the one who wakes up mean every. single. day. Bar none. I don't want to wake Grouchy up, and, believe me, I never face the job uncaffeinated.

How often am I the grouchy one?

Imom offers this:

How do you like to be greeted? Doesn't it make you feel good and secure when someone gives you their full attention and an enthusiastic greeting? Well think about how your children feel when they see you in the morning, after school, or when you pick them up from an activity. At these times, loving communication is key.
So, here are the top 10 ways not to greet your child:
  • You're on the phone
  • You're texting
  • You're on your computer
  • You're checking your calendar
  • Asking what homework they have
  • Correcting them as soon as you see them
  • Bringing up something they recently did wrong
  • Not making eye contact with them
  • Not smiling at them
  • Letting your bad mood make you grouchy with them
Michael Card sings:

Home is a comfort and home is a light,
A place to leave the darkness outside,
Home is a peaceful and ever full feeling
A place where a soul safely hides.
My favorite translation of 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is not rude. Rude: discourteous, savage, uncouth, indifferent to good form. A quick perusal of the headlines tells me that we face no shortage of the uncouth or the savage in this world of ours. I'd like to see our home -- our family -- be a refuge from all of this, to be a place to leave the darkness outside.


Kris said...

Can I jump up and down, waving my hand and yelling "Me, me!" "This post is about me!". Definitely today. I'm dialing back the curt rudeness as we speak and taking a deep breath for patience. The children were on my last nerve this morning. And we LOVE Revolution around here!! Family time with the two older boys every Monday night. Love!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, this is me too. Despite my best efforts. And can I just say that as hard as I try, I never seem to be able to keep on top of the technological needs of my family - chargers, charging, recording etc. Sometimes I just long for a power cut! Be good to yourself, Kelly.