Friendly Not Feisty
Karen Ehman

"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 today's key 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.

Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I take out my temper on my family. I want instead to act like You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
For more on this topic and a chance to win a basket of family-friendly fun with a copy of her hospitality book A Life that Says Welcome, visit Karens blog

Sharing Grace- Family Traditions-Gift ideas (E-Book) by LeAnn Rice

She's Gonna Blow! Real Help for Dealing With Mom Anger by Julie Ann Barnhill

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

Reflections:
Do you know people who remain calm when they want to snap instead? What makes them choose the better reaction? If you can't figure it out, ask them!

Power Verses:
Romans 12:9-10, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." (NIV)

© 2010 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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28 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have so many times wondered this myself - strangers get all the "happy, upbeat" me while my family gets the leftovers. You've gone a step further by suggesting we fix that! I will start this morning with my family offering a smile and a positive attitude like I do with those I'm not as close with. Thank you for the verses and the reality check!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Have you been checking up on me lately?? Seems like you just wrote a story of my life... The unfriendly mama/stepmama portions that allow angry verbage to roll off my tongue with nary a blink!! It's the clothes strewn across the room/bathroom, the tracking of muddy boots, the door left open, the unfinished homework,etc... With nearly every devotion I have read lately, I have felt God tugging at my heart, saying" My daughter, be more forgiving, be more loving, be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is going through some kind of battle." "BATTLE???! I'll give them a battle I thought..."but then it occured to me, yes they are in a daily battle.. A BATTLE for their very SOULS!!! They need the God fearing Mama part of me praying daily over their peer pressure battles, their being accepted battles, their future relationships, etc... So today, I choose to put on my Mama "don't you mess with my family!" armour and march out there in this big ole world and give the devil a what for!! I am praying my way to work.. I am praying on my lunch.. and all the while I am asking for strength to endure the mess I am sure to arrive home to...
Thanks so much for sharing!! I know now, that God has definately been trying to get my attention.. So, God I am listening, and I need you to meet me right here, right now, in this place to give me the strength and courage to keep my mouth shut!! In Jesus name AMEN!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Were you in my home last evening??!! I spent all day yesterday cleaning my home, cooking and laundry. My house was spotless and I was exhausted! I tend to be very protective of the house after I clean it, not wanting anything out of place, etc. My husband came up to bed and could not find his Pj's (which were in the last load of laundry which I had not brought back up yet) I totally snapped at him. I don't even know where that ugliness came from?! You are so...right. If a guest had asked me where there pj's were I likely would have offered to get them and deliver them myself!
Oh how we can slip so quickly! I am sure that Jesus sent your message with speedy delivery just for me!! I will apologize as soon as he wakes this am and hope to keep my emotions in check!
Lord, help me to keep my emotions and reactions in check, especially to those I love the most!!!
Sally

OpenID slds56 said...

Karen,
This one is for me today. I am planning somethings for some ladies at church today. Showing hospitality to my sisters. This weekend my family was out of town- I cleaned and worked so hard to have the house in good shape for them to enjoy and relax when they came home.(or so I say)Within a few hours of them being home you could not tell that I had done very much. I have been okay with this until yesterday. Then I started letting those snippy remarks slip out of my mouth. The Lord really spoke to me today through your devotion. I need to be as kind to my family as I am to my friends at church. How can I offer hospitality to my sisters in Christ if I can't offer it to my family? He sees and knows all of my actions. We take the ones we love the most for granted sometimes.

Blogger Courtney said...

Thank you for this. I so needed to hear it this morning! I am so convicted of this on a daily basis, and your devotion was very encouraging...it CAN change! I don't want to be the grouchy mama who extends grace to others but not to her family....and freaks out at the sight of all the messes!

Blogger Allison Morrison said...

Yikes...you were at my house weren't you? Oh how I needed these words today! Thank you! I want my children's memories of my actions to be their first taste of grace...not hurtful!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sort of agree and sort of disagree...True, we sometimes give others better than we give our own... But sometimes our frustration comes not from the fact that they did something we didn't like but because we are trying to train (our kids) to be thoughtful and caring and they seem to not "get it"...Is there not a fine line as to what that looks like? And yes, if we are trying to teach them then a response of anger would not be what we use but patience with a calm attitude. It is not always loving to allow our children (or others) to take advantage of us and to enable them to remain as children.

I guess a "heart-check" is in order when I feel those frustrations starting to rise in me...to see what is my motivation and discover how to get my point across with love...speaking the truth in love...as the Word says.

Anonymous Donna said...

I don't have anyone in my home to provoke feisty in me but there are those I talk about in a manner that is not kind. I long to change. I long to speak words of truth but also of love. Thank you for your article.

Wow, I just went through this same scenario last night.
I went to bed with what the Lord put on my heart "I was given these children to take care of THEM, to love on THEM. They are a gift that I have been trusted with, damage done to the house is nothing compared to damage done to them". I need to be more "friendly" and less "fiesty" in those times :)
Thank you

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been there and done all that. When my kids were at home and making messes after I cleaned up the house, I too would get frustrated and angry and spout hurtful words. Knowing the whole time I was wrong. I have apologized many times for my hurtful words to my family. However, now my house is empty except for holidays and special occasions. Just me to clean up after. Sometimes I let the dishes pile up!!! Ladies, enjoy the messes now because you will miss them later.

Blogger Amy said...

Such truth! Great reminder today to be friendly with my family!!! Thanks!

Anonymous Vickey Stamps said...

Thanks so much. I passed this on to several others. There is so much truth in the face we put on for others, as opposed to the ones we love.... like family.I really enjoy Encouragement for today, and more often than not, I pass it on to others. Keep up the good work with your uplifting words. I am a retired nurse and writer, and always ask God's blesses to touch others with the words HE sends me. Thanks.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WoW!! what a wake up call! this is so true and i really want to be able to change that. Because our families will soon want to follow Jesus as well. And who do they see when I do this? Especially if your husband is not a Christian and you want him to know Jesus and make it with his salvation so your kids can follow the lead as well.
I need lots of prayer and time for Godly repentance. Thank you for the wonderful messagewith scriptures and practicals. It is such a blessing to have this devotions daily thank you!

Blogger Colleen said...

Wow! All I have to say is OUCH! Now I need to go ask some people for forgiveness. Thanks so much!
Blessings to you!

Anonymous April said...

Thank you for this post!! It is great knowing I am not the only one who does this. I sometimes get so caught up with anger and frustration when my kids mess after I clean up that I forget they are just being their honest self, a child. These devotions are a blessing to read. May God bless you and your family.

Anonymous Barbara said...

I blow it here more times than I care to admit...I just got finished apologizing to my children as well. I am very positive and cheery the majority of the time, but I am guilty of the cutting words and just plain unkindness dished out at times that startles even me! It is true that both blessing and cursing comes from this tongue of mine...please Lord, help my talk to match up with my walk!

Girl - were you in my home today? lol!!! I am having a "Making Your Home a Haven" challenge over on my blog this month and this week we are to light a candle and pray for peace every time the glimmer catches my eye. So in the midst of chaos this sweet candle is burning and bringing me back to the throne of God time and again and reminding me - stay calm, be at peace, love on your family etc. This post goes right along with what I am working on right now - thank you for this encouragement and transparency!
Courtney

Blogger Edie said...

Yep, I think you were at my house today. Well, I know Jesus was and He mustn't have like what he saw from me. This mother/stepmother of 5 teenagers was on emotional overload. I took the day off from work so I could regroup and pray about all that has been going on in our lives. Of course the day didn't go as planned..I snapped, yelled, and was downright mean to everyone including my husband. Tomorrow is another day and I will do better.Thank you for this on-time message.God bless all of us mothers.

Blogger stonemillnz said...

Ouch! My house was by no means spic and span, but I walked in the door at 4 and picked up for 90 minutes - talk about putting me over the edge! My poor husband finally offered to help - and I turned him down! I was so ugly to my kids and husband yesterday - thanks for the accountability to check my words and intentions before speaking.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so struggle with the sam thing! Thanks for bringing such truth to surface. I just prayed this morning over hesitating before I spew all over my family when I get my feathers ruffled. It is usually over the mess they make after I spent the better part of the day cleaning up after them. I need to extend to them the same courtesy I show others.

OpenID lauramaly said...

Wow. I think you've been sneaking in my home when I haven't been looking. I do this frequently – and sometimes even catch myself and have a hard time stopping. Why is that? Why are we so willing to forgive strangers and condemn our own kin? Thank you for sharing your own personal viewpoint; it's nice to know others struggle with this same issue. And thanks for the reminder. I plan to try to keep this forefront in my mind, and pray your prayer....frequently. ;-)

OpenID lauramaly said...

Wow. I think you've been sneaking in my home when I haven't been looking. I do this frequently – and sometimes even catch myself and have a hard time stopping. Why is that? Why are we so willing to forgive strangers and condemn our own kin? Thank you for sharing your own personal viewpoint; it's nice to know others struggle with this same issue. And thanks for the reminder. I plan to try to keep this forefront in my mind, and pray your prayer....frequently. ;-)

Blogger Delores said...

I also think, You may been checking on Me. In the past few months, I have encountered a lot, My Husband underwent a triple Heart aneurysm and then 2 weeks ago, He had a Pacemaker put in, needless to say My Patience has een very low, I had little tolerance for People and advice and may have snapped off a few heads, but God in His Mighty way brought me to realize that I needed people and I had to e nice to those who cared and loved Me so much. God always gets Us through those tough times, and teaches Us Patience.
Delores

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dear sisters in Christ, I typed a lengthy comment and I don't know how but it's now gone. Maybe our Heavenly Father is not wanting me to discuss details. There some relief because of shame and embarressment. I will say this - I have a heavy heart, and ask for prayer in this matter of which I fail to tame my tongue. It has brought great pain to my sweet 9 yr old & 7 yr old daughters. Please pray for me, and pray for them. God bless you.

~M

Blogger Delores said...

My Dear Sister, You have My Prayers, just give whatever hurt You have to God, He can handle it where You can't "Trust Him" He's Your one true friend.
this is in reply to this email
Anonymous has left a new comment on the post "Friendly Not Feisty":

My dear sisters in Christ, I typed a lengthy comment and I don't know how but it's now gone. Maybe our Heavenly Father is not wanting me to discuss details. There some relief because of shame and embarressment. I will say this - I have a heavy heart, and ask for prayer in this matter of which I fail to tame my tongue. It has brought great pain to my sweet 9 yr old & 7 yr old daughters. Please pray for me, and pray for them. God bless you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly but true, I have had many moments like these. My daughter has actually used the words to say....ayi how Feisty. You know this devotional was written for me. The other night I had prepared a nice dinner for the family and I asked my daughter to put out the nice "plates" and she said why? Who's coming over? It's just us mom. It broke my heart that I hadn't shown them on enough occassions that they are my guests each and every night. If we stop and listen, we will see that our children also teach us so many lessons in life.

Blogger Cindy said...

Hi Karen! I'm pretty sure you've been a "mouse in my house" and that's what inspired you to write this devotion. I am not proud of the way I have spoken to my family over trivial things. After reading your post, I pray God will continue the work He is doing in me to not take all the housework stuff so seriously. I pray I will show the ones I love most my friendly side, my hospitable side, my "Welcome to my Home" side. Thank you for reminding me of this. I pray I am the light of Jesus to my family and loved ones.

Blogger Delores said...

The Bible warns unbelievers, "He will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves," but for Christians it will mean a loss of eternal rewards." (Romans 2:8 NLT)
The Bible warns unbelievers, "He will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves," but for Christians it will mean a loss of eternal rewards." (Romans 2:8 NLT)

We are only fully alive when we're helping others. Jesus said, "If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live." (Mark 8:35 (LB); see also Matthew 10:39; 16:25; Luke 9:24; 17:33)

This truth is so important that it is repeated five times in the Gospels. If you aren't serving, you're just existing, because life is meant for ministry. God wants you to learn to love and serve others unselfishly.
We not only serve God, which is first and foremost, but We need to serve and e considered of Our Family also everyone, We Love and care about, selfiness is not tolerated by God.

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