ALL IN THE FAMILY

Tact-is-the-act-ofBy Deb DeArmond

I love this quote. Turns out Isaac Newton was not just a gravity genius. He apparently was a relationship guru as well. Must have come from a big family.

I was raised as an only child; my only sibling was 16 years my senior. By the time I was two, he had gone off to college and never returned to our home state. We grew close only after I grew up. So, as a child, I had my folks all to myself. I never needed to call “shotgun” to ride in the front seat, never had to split the last cookie with a younger sibling and never had the heartbreak that comes with being asked to sacrificially yield the last of the ice cream to another child in the family.

Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? I won’t lie—it was a great life. One I discovered (later in life) my friends envied. But it turns out, there was a dark side.

I never learned to share. Or at least to share graciously.

When required to do so in the midst of a school event or neighborhood pow-wow, I was known to be demanding, bossy and  loud about what I wanted.  Later I learned it was behavior considered immature. Well excuse me! Experience had taught me differently than it had my multi-siblinged comrades.

I eventually developed the ability, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t overnight. And now I wonder how I ever avoided being pushed out, pushed down or simply outcast. Very grateful looking back it hadn’t gone that way.

So now, as a full grown adult, I watch as we all struggle with the urge to “have it our way” even in the relationships that are most important to us in life: in our  marriages, with family members – adult kids, sibling in-laws, aunts, uncles, even grandparents have their preferences. It’s hard not to campaign for the thing you want, even as an adult. It can be tough to set aside your own preference without getting sulky and sullen.

But it’s also not okay to simply let the loudest voice lead. How do you cope? For starters, stop being the loudest, and start being the clearest voice— to bring a sense of peace and order when the conversation begins to give way to self-interest without regard for the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of others.

How do we do it? How do we find a way to have candid open discussion without damaging the people we love the most?

Effective communication skills and using the Word of God as our guideline is a foundation that will stand every time. Here are two Spirit-led reminders, designed to help us walk in love.

  • Prefer one another. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,” Romans 12:10 (NKJV). Putting the interests of another is counter-intuitive to the flesh. Preferring others will always cause people to sit up and take notice, because it’s not how the world does things, so it serves a dual purpose, as it draws attention to our great God.
  • Love does not seek it’s own way. It’s not Burger King, friend. It’s not always going to go as you’d hoped. Set your preference aside and listen, really listen. Be willing to be changed by what you hear. (1 Cor 13)

And remember that the way you say what you say matters. Volume does not equal leadership.

So remember, tact counts. Just ask Isaac. Turns out that apple bonk on the head must have loosed some real Godly insight!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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