[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
We all react differently to situations that confront us, big or small. As much as we may secretly pray for things to be perfect and for us to live “happily ever after”; as much as we fantasise that our kids will behave appropriately in all situations. Little Isaac will write on the floor. Suzie will draw all those little inspirations that come to her on your walls. Lerato will somehow make your floor a pan and break eggs on them and Sipho will take your car without your permission and somehow involve himself in an accident. “Situations” will and do come and yes, THEY HAPPEN!!!!!!!
Your prince in shining armour who vowed to have eyes only for you might find his eyes wandering and your sweet bride might LOVE spending and spending and more spending. “Situations” that you do not really think about on the day of such bliss and joy — the day you wed. As parents we get caught up in the joy of finally meeting our little one and we are overwhelmed with such unspeakable love that we don’t stop to think of the future dirty walls, floor and carpet. Marriage and parenthood — indeed all relationships with our loved ones — are truly blessings but they can be at times very trying.
Where did it come from?
This past week in my house in a space of two days there were lizards that came into the house that came into my room. Out of nowhere; even now I can’t think where they could have come in but they came in nonetheless and in the midst of trying to figure out where there was an opening where a lizard would have come into our bedroom, we had to deal with the fact that THERE WAS A LIZARD IN OUR BEDROOM!!! An unpleasantness that was happening in our home and I couldn’t find peace until it was out. My initial reaction, on the first day the one lizard came, was to take a broom and to scoot it out. I was screaming. I was shouting as I was trying to deal with the lizard. That did not solve the matter but made it worse as it quickly ran and hid under the bedside lampstand.
When I was going through the “ordeal” (If you see lizards as friends you will not understand) I had another thought of how to handle the situation. “How about sitting it out and be quiet? In its own time the lizard will come out!” I remember sitting on my bed for what seemed like eternity. EVENTUALLY THE LIZARD CAME OUT OF HIDING. It ran in the direction of the door leading out but somehow missed it and was going to go into the rest of the house. At that moment I jumped out of bed, took the broom and fought off the lizard sweeping it in the direction of the sliding door leading outside.
The following day there was another lizard that came. It was my husband who “dealt “with the situation this time around. He, like me the day before, fought it off with a broom. It quickly went underneath our carpet and hid under a hole in our bedroom floor. I didn’t even know we had a hole. It was a tiny hole but it was big enough for that lizard to hide! IT JUST HID THERE!!! Unfortunately my husband had to go on a business trip and I was the one who was left to deal with the “lizard situation”. I immediately thought of what had happened the previous day and just sat.
My son, our eldest came into the room and I told him to keep quiet and we just sat there in silence waiting for the lizard to come out. I excused him and told him that it was fine I would deal with it. It kept on coming out and running behind the curtain I had to open a door for the eventuality of it coming out and I had to take one of the curtains that it was using to hide and put that curtain right at the sliding door so when it came out to try to hide in the curtain it would find itself outside.
What I have learnt (AND YES I LEARNT A LESSON FROM THOSE LIZARDS) in all of this is that this is exactly how we sometimes deal with situations in our lives. There are “lizards” that come in our lives unannounced, unplanned, unforeseen and we have no way of knowing where we opened a door for them to come in but they are in our personal space and we have to deal with them. They will not go away.
How we deal with them determines our success in keeping the peace in our home or not. Do we use gentleness? Do we shout and scream or do we use a combination of both. DO WE WAIT IT OUT AND HOPEFULLY THE SITUATION WILL SOLVE ITSELF? Do we clean up the mess? How do we deal with the confrontations in our lives? Do we react with anger or are calm? Do we yell at little Isaac for writing on the floor with a koki pen? Do we scream at Suzie for drawing on the wall? Does Lerato get a hiding and grounding for breaking the eggs on the floor? Do you shout and scream at Sipho for crashing your car or does he get it all, the grounding and the hiding. Your husband with the wondering eye — does he get the silent treatment and you hope the problem will go away because you know men will be men. Do you divorce your wife because “she will run this family into the ground with all this debt”
How do we deal with “the lizard situations” that will potentially destroy our relationships, our homes, our families? Things that crawl into our homes unannounced to destroy our peace! Are you gentle with the daughter, the son who is out of hand, who is going to ruin his future with that unruly crowd? Or do you shout and scream at him telling him he should know better? Do we yell at our husbands? Do we yell at our wives?
Are we gentle with them through the whole process? Do we scream at them; yell at them and cause them to go into hiding…to hide how they truly feel, to hide their emotions? What do we do with the little “lizards” that come into our homes? What do we do when things are going so well then out of the blue “a situation” arrives that we have to deal with?
Perception is very important because as much as other people may not see a lizard as a threat, an irritation or something to be bothered by, some see a lizard as an irritation. Some are even scared of them. Perception, attitude! How we perceive things. Our attitudes towards situations that happen in our lives make a lot of difference. Little things that happen, big things that happen! Could it be that that the very thing that you are disagreeing about is really your “friend”? Your disagreement could force you to find a solution that could benefit your marriage and your family in the long run. Just as lizards eat insects and prevent them from completely taking over your yard; your disagreement over your debt situation; the friend that makes your spouse really uneasy; your habits that are driving you far and far away from your family; your obsession with looking good; your over involvement with church activities neglecting your family in the process…the list can be endless. Lizards creeping into your life; those disagreements and confrontations might really be your friend forcing you to wake up and realise there are openings in your life; little holes that need closing before they turn into something big.
The ideal is get to a place where we know what to do to deal with each situation. It is to find a balance between being silent and confronting the issue. We need the spirit of discernment to know what to do when because silence is not always golden and confrontation is not always the best way.
The Bible says in Psalm 4:4 In your anger do not sin: when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.
Psalm 145:8 — The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
Psalm 30:5 — For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favour lasts a lifetime.
Proverbs 15:1 — A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 29:11 — A fool gives vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control
Ephesians 4:29 — Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you!!
Are we gracious and compassionate? Are we slow to anger or do we “blow up”? Do we have a gentle answer or are we full of wrath. Do we keep our anger under control? Do we have bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander or are we forgiving. It is time for us to look at our lives and see how these lizards find their way into our lives. We need to close the holes that lead them into our space so we do not sin and grieve the Holy Spirit.
I do not know how other people handle lizards in their homes. Do they see them as friends who come to eat insects or do they see them as irritations. I don’t know. All I know that those lizards taught me a very powerful lessons and that is there is power in silence; in calmness in stillness not all the time but silence is an option and so is confrontation. May God help us see when it is time use either!
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