There is little question that the people of our nation are in a period of deep disparity. A quick scroll through social media shows intense political commentary and disagreements, most riddled with hateful remarks and lacking respect and understanding for those with opposing views. It is a time where people want to flock to those who seem to share their worldview, and prefer to ridicule or shut out those who have differing opinions. However, as Christians, we are called to rise above our strong opinions, and our anger at the way we might be treated by others, and instead show love to one another. What better time to start working towards a greater love of neighbor than the season of Lent? If it sounds too impossible to show love to the person who just called you every name under the sun, start small. Start right in your own home.
Beloved St. Teresa of Calcutta prompts us, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” Sounds easy enough, right? But how often do we take our frustrations out on those closest to us? You had a disagreement with a coworker, and suddenly you are arguing with your spouse too. You are worked up over a negative comment on a Facebook post, and after logging off find yourself being impatient with your kids. It’s so easy to get caught up in our emotions, and let them dictate the way we treat those who love us the most, and who most need our love.
As mothers, our families rely on us for so many things, and our moods and behavior often dictate the entire household atmosphere. We’ve all heard the saying “happy wife, happy life,” right? The problem with that statement is it’s usually used to imply that husbands need to make sure they keep their wives happy so everything is kept running smoothly. Now, we all unquestioningly need love, support, and encouragement from our spouses; but we also should not falsely believe that it is up to them to make us happy. Only a relationship with our Lord can bring us the true happiness and sense of peace that we crave and which is needed in order for us to create a culture of joy and peace in our homes. Lent is a great time to self-reflect and make the changes needed to lead us closer to that deep relationship with our Lord which will enhance all of our other relationships.
If you have been feeling anything but peaceful lately, here are a few suggestions to get you back on track this Lenten season.
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- Spend quiet time with God each day. It is best if this can be done first thing in the morning. There is something very powerful about spending the first few moments of the day with God -- praying, reading scripture, or even just sitting in silence with Him for ten minutes is enough to alter the course of your day. If mornings are tough, carve out some time during nap time, or just before bed. Ask God to help you create a culture of peace in your family.
- Speak in a peaceful voice. Try to make a conscious effort to speak with a gentle and peaceful voice throughout the day. If you feel yourself getting worked up, try to pause and take a deep breath and ask the Holy Spirit to help you remain peaceful. When our family members see that we are speaking calmly and lovingly, even if sternly, they respond in a much more positive manner than when we raise our voices or demand things of them.
- Put your phone away. Between googling activities for the kiddos, pinteresting something for dinner, checking the weather, scrolling social media, etc. we could (and often do) spend the majority of our day caught up in our phones. We find ourselves feeling annoyed when we are interrupted by our toddler while responding to a text, or when our spouse is trying to have a conversation with us and we are busy scrolling through Instagram. We put unimportant things on a screen before those right in front of us who are desperate for our attention, and then we act impatiently towards them for interfering. Try planning out your activities for the day for a few minutes the night prior, make a habit of planning dinner a week ahead, limit social media time to 10, 20, 30 minutes a day (preferably during the kiddos nap time or after bed time). The more we can disconnect from our phones and instead connect and engage with our family members, the more loved and respected everyone will feel- leading to a more peaceful and joyful household.
- Smile. Just like speaking in a peaceful voice can have an impact on our family interactions, choosing to smile and show other outward signs of joy can make a big difference as well. How often does our spouse walk in from work and instead of greeting them with a smile we bombard them with the frustrations of the day? Or when our toddler wants to put his own shoes on, rather than smile and encourage him/her we get impatient and rush them along so we can get out the door and on with our day? Smile. Maybe your spouse also had a bad day and is ready to vent and continue in a foul mood, but when he walks in the door you smile first and say “Glad you are home, honey, I missed you today.” I’m sure his response will be different than what it may have initially been. If you choose to smile and give your toddler a high five for trying to tie his own shoes, I’m sure his attitude while you’re out running errands will be much better than if you leave the house already in a fight. Sharing a smile is also a simple first step towards showing love to others outside your home, even those we might not always agree with. As Saint Teresa once again remind us, “Peace begins with a smile.”
- Practice Gratitude. Gratitude is so vital to our happiness that it simply can’t go without mentioning. My strategy for cultivating gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal and each night write down 5 unique things that I am thankful for from that day. If you don’t do this, or something similar, use this Lenten period to get started. When we are focused on the good in our life, all of the blessings that surround us each day, it is much easier to let a snide remark roll off our shoulders, or to overlook the imperfections of a particular day. It is much easier to love others and be in a state of peace when we are mindful of all that we have been given out of the love of our Father.
I by no means claim to be an expert in these areas, in fact they are things I struggle with daily. However, I have found that when I really focus on doing them, my house runs more smoothly, and my whole family is happier (including me!). I hope they can be of help to you on your Lenten journey towards a more peaceful home too!
What do you do to create a peaceful home? Please share in the comments!
Copyright 2017 Kitty Marcenelle