What Are We Offering Our Families?
By Sharon Darling
Greetings again from a very beautiful day in the Northeast, U.S. Today I have some questions and thoughts to provoke some deeper thinking. I hope this is as life changing for you as it was for me. If you have already benefited from this perspective, that’s awesome! I am grateful to have changed my approach. Honestly, sometimes I need reminders of this. So, grab your favorite drink and get cozy. For me, I have my favorite Tangerine Tea, YUM!
How we interact with our families is often on my mind. Have you thought about how you behave towards and treat your families as offerings to them? I have made quite a few mistakes over the years. Unlearning bad habits and attitudes can be a long process. How are we doing with the offerings to our families?
The world has lied to us about how we should act towards our families and what behaviors are acceptable. I will share a woman’s perspective on this subject.
First, we are not a “mess” and forever stuck that way. God can transform our lives and understanding into that which pleases Him. We must allow Him to do so.
Secondly, our culture seems to think women should look down on men. I have never agreed with women pushing their husbands around and treating him like a child. I used to joke that my husband was one of my kids. Now whenever I hear that statement it makes me cringe. It is an utterly horrible mentality. It isn’t cute or funny, but disrespectful and demeaning. In marriage, we are living life together. Being bossy and treating husbands like they cannot handle life without us is awful.
Lastly, the world treats children as if they hold women back from their full potential. Our kids are not a burden, but a blessing. A stable home life does not hold us back, but it empowers us to experience the God-given blessing of being a wife and mother.
Everywhere in society, we see the message that wives know best in the home and with the kids. The message and attitude is as if the men are idiots who do not have a clue. Often, we see that what wives and moms want is treated as more important. When she does not get her way in the home or with their children she can get very angry, resentful and mean. Not all of us are like this, but it is out there more than a little bit. Everywhere we turn, whether entertainment, conversations or life in general three is a non-stop bombardment of this. It is not good to see this everywhere.
Yes, we all know there are men and women who hold onto poor ideology that do not value women. We know there is abuse out there. We know we can face hardships and a hard time. Real men do not abuse or mistreat women. A Godly man does not belittle, berate, or raise a hand to his wife. He would not be demanding or demeaning. A woman should be careful who she marries and thoroughly know a man before she marries him. Yes, I know, sometimes people change. These are some of the warning signs of a man who is not behaving in a Godly manner. We also must remember that women can do these things too. We must be able to recognize them for ourselves and teach all our children how to treat their spouses and family. While also equipping them to recognize and avoid the warning signs as well. We should never be doing any of them either. No one should be doing these things.
I daresay most if not almost all of us women struggle at some point when it comes to how we feel at home. Some struggle more than others in this area. It is easy to feel taken for granted or taken advantage of. There are overwhelming seasons, especially when we have small children or a chronic situation in our lives. Having special needs children or medically frail children can be so very taxing. Marital problems can be hard to cope with. Sin in the home can make it unbearable. We do get affected by those things. Much of life we cannot control. It matters, you matter, and I know that it can be quite hard at times. None of what follows invalidates legitimate problems and struggles.
With that being said let’s put all that aside. Why don’t we look at what was a game changer for me and perhaps can be for you too.
None of this means we cannot take time for ourselves. Not at all. That is necessary and I have a three-part series that I have written about on that very topic on my blog under the “Wellness” category (http://www.torahwoman.org). Taking care of ourselves is important. It is also part of how we love and take care of our families as well.
After our relationship with God, the most important aspect of our lives are our families. So here are some things that changed for me some years ago. I never used to think about housework, cooking, training our kids, intimacy and other aspects of life being “offerings.” I did think of it as serving them but not offerings. Some years back my mindset changed when my husband and I were discussing who knows what, we talk about all kinds of things all the time. I do remember though, him asking me to think about it as an offering.
Consider the following questions: What am I offering my family? When I serve them, am I doing it only out of duty? Am I doing it with an irritated attitude? Am I complaining that all I do is serve others? Am I saying, here you go, now go away, be happy I cooked, cleaned or whatever else even though I did not want to right now? Not only in words but perhaps in my attitude or body language as well?
Cain gave his offering, but his attitude was terrible. He got incredibly jealous, and it did not end well. He did the bare minimum and then took his bad attitude way too far. Going through the motions is not enough. Consider our “offerings” in our day-to-day interactions. When I am doing my domestic duties, raising my children, and serving them and my beloved, then what is my attitude? What am I offering them? Am I giving them my leftovers and tromping around accusing them of being ungrateful and taking me for granted? Am I showing them I love them? Am I doing my best, as realistically as possible with a cheerful heart and a smile on my face? Am I serving them and loving them like I would if our Messiah was standing right next to me? Am I treating them and my life in a manner that is consistent with how I should be giving my offerings to our Father? (I know there is a difference, but the principle is the same with attitude and etc.). Am I treating my family like the blessings they are? Am I putting effort into whatever I am doing?
How do we respond when our husbands want and need attention? Guess what? As manly as they are, they have emotions, desires, and wants just like we do even if they don’t say it. Do we engage them, or do we give them a hard time while listing off everything we must do or complain about all the things we want from them? We still want love, affection, and romance whether they are tired or not or have a ton of things they must do. It hurts when we don’t feel like a priority to them or are put last because they want to do other things first.
Engage with them! Play with them! Take that moment of quiet time they desire! That is far, far more important. The other stuff almost 100% of the time can wait. It really can. He will love that his wife wants his attention and that he is important enough to you for you to give him yours. When those times come that he must wait or does need to come last, he will be far more understanding and secure in your relationship and love.
When we are having quiet time or in middle of housework how do we react when our children want some interaction with us? Do we play that game or answer their question? Or do they get shooed away because mommy has things to do? Read them that book, dance with them when they ask you to. Be silly and make that fort with them and by all means – do not tell them you are too busy for them.
Once can easily turn into all the time and soon they will start parroting that you are too busy, or they don’t want to irritate you. In this example, it is awful when you hear your words come out of their mouth. Of course, there are times you really can’t because of things like heading out the door, a baby needs to be changed or fed, or your husband is coming home from work and you are going to meet him at the door with a kiss. You can ask for a rain check and then follow through. Your children will love you even more for that and have some pretty awesome memories. They will know they are a priority to you.
These are some of the different ways to live out loving our family in our day to day. Our actions, reactions and interactions are our offerings to our family. It matters how we approach it and can change the whole atmosphere in the home for good or bad. Why not work at making it good? We have so much influence. Things can wait at times and our family in turn will show their appreciation generally as well when they see and feel that you love them and show them as well. They will be secure in your love and will know that they are important to you and are not a burden.
I know what it feels like to be that child who is treated as a huge burden and that wife and mother who accidentally makes my family feel like they are to me. Yikes and ouch!
It is easy to get caught up in the “I have to do this, that and the other thing” mindset. Our lists can get so long. The season in life you are in dictates so much about how our days will go. Sometimes we must work harder than others to maintain a good attitude. It is unrealistic and fake to be like this every moment of every day. There is always room for improvement and as we change our mindsets and approach; life can feel wonderful. In turn getting easier to see the blessings everywhere. You can look at that mess and instead think “man, my kids had a great time, that was a lot of fun!”
My husband loves us enough to do that project or participate in that activity instead of “UGH NOW THAT MESS HAS TO BE CLEANED UP and I am sick of it!” How we approach those moments will be life changing. Whether it will go wonderfully or poorly can be influenced by us.
When they want our attention, we can engage them or be crabby. When things need to get done we can get frustrated at having more to do or we can try to have a better attitude. It needs to get done anyways, being miserable is no fun and is exhausting. We can be working on what we are able to control. In turn that will bless our families tremendously. We can do all thing through Messiah who strengthens us!
What do you think will reflect the kind of women that is represented in Proverbs 31 that is called blessed by her family? Our interactions are either building up or tearing down like it is described in Proverb 14:1. Who will we choose to be, however imperfectly, yet putting in the effort to strive to do better? Struggle with yelling or want to grow in patience? I have blog posts for improving both. With more topics like this to come in time. Working on things like this is a blessing to you and your family. These are wonderful offerings to them that might create a ripple effect of the behavior and attitudes you might like to see change in them.
When we fall short, we have the gifts of repentance and forgiveness, then apologizing as needed. Followed by getting up, dusting ourselves off and trying to do better the next time. Next times will come. How will we handle them? Doing our best with this is a gift to our children that they hopefully copy. They will be able to learn by living with it. Our examples are important.
As we are striving to bring God glory, we can find all the little areas in our life to live out Matthew 6:33. First above everything in our life we need to be seeking His Kingdom. Seek Him daily, pray to Him constantly, study His Word. The more we do this, the more we can become the daughters of the Most High we were designed to be! What are our offerings? It matters.
Sharon Darling is the founder of Heart of a Torah Woman Ministries. www.torahwoman.org