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Did you know that Mardi and I, our parents, our sister Kendal, two different aunts & uncles, and a cousin all live on the same road? Isn’t that awesome?? Well, if you ask some people, it might sound like their worst nightmare. But we just feel incredibly blessed. Our kids have grown up together and probably don’t have too many memories that don’t involve each other. Mardi and I are so thankful for that, especially since we adored our cousins growing up and still feel a special bond with all of them. Our kids are so lucky to live next door to one another and also right by grandpa and grandma’s house, where they frequently meet up. And our parents’ home is the place to be…a beach equipped with all kinds of toys, a big yard to host neighborhood football and baseball games, a pantry that always has treats…pretty much every kids’ dream.
Living next door to family has lots of advantages for me, too. I love knowing my kids can see their grandma and grandpa every day. I love sharing meals together a couple times a week, especially in the summer out on the deck. If I have to run an errand, the kids can run down to grandma’s. If I need a roll of toilet paper, I can steal one from mom. If Mardi makes cookies at 9:30 at night and invites me over to try one out, I’m eating one still hot from the oven within minutes. If Aunt Kendal calls and asks the kids to spend the night last minute, we get an unexpected quiet night at home. The perks are endless!
Is it for everyone? Probably not. There are the occasional downsides, like grandparents having to discipline instead of spoil. Listening to your son and nephew argue over the latest call made in their game. Getting on each other’s nerves because you are with each other all the time. Knowing pretty much everyone’s business. Having your mom call and ask where you were when you are 39 years old, or tell you that your garage door is still open even though I was well aware. Getting a call from your aunt because she thought she saw flames in the window when you had lit a candle. Having your dad hear you yelling at your kids from 100 yards away
So what are the keys to maintaining peace and harmony in a family that spends so much time together? Well, I’m certainly not perfect and have caused my fair share of conflict, I’m sure, but personally I have a few guidelines that I TRY to abide by to keep the peace. They are as follows:
*Pray! This is obviously the most important one. Pray that God will help you see things from his perspective, not yours. Pray that God will bless your family with peace.
Don’t quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible. Romans 12:19
*Keep your mouth shut! Ahhh…this is the one I struggle with the most! Sometimes it is so hard not to comment on something that is none of my business (especially since we all know each other’s business so well). If you think they might not appreciate whatever you are going to say…then don’t say it, unless they specifically ask for your opinion.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3
*Wait! If you must say something, wait a day or two. It is amazing how many times I have been annoyed about something and wanted to address it, only to wait a day and realize how petty and foolish I was to get worked up over something so silly. Just waiting a day has saved me from saying lots of things I would have regretted!
Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
*Reflect! If you are still angry after giving yourself a cooling off period, reflect on your behavior. Now is a great time to pray that God would grant you humility and help you to see your own faults and shortcomings. In my experience, recognizing my own sin can so often knock the self-righteous anger right out of me.
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3
Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. Proverbs 18:12
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye.? Matthew 7:3
*Apologize! Now this one I have gotten pretty good at! It’s a direct result of not being good at all of the previous points! I pray that I will never be too proud to admit when I am wrong or have done wrong. I apologize to my kids all. the. time. I have to apologize to my sisters and parents, occasionally too. It is never pleasant, but boy, does it restore peace to your soul and to your relationships faster than anything. And I value that peace for myself and my family above any temporary conflict or annoyance.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16
And don’t forget, no family or person is perfect. We still have a sinful nature and live in a sin-filled world. Life here on earth is not supposed to be like Heaven, or we wouldn’t need God. And we do need Him, especially if we want to be good neighbors (or family members or co-workers or parents)!
Do you have a strategy for keeping the peace in your relationships? Tell us about it…we have plenty of opportunities around here to try new ones out! But trust me, I wouldn’t have it any other way!