Sometimes I’m not a nice person.
Sometimes I just need to say those words out loud and admit them.
I wish I was a kinder person all around, but mostly I wish I was kinder to those I love the most, those who live in the same house as me. For some reason, namely that pesky thing called sin, I tend to paste on a smile and save all the kindness when I’m out there—in the world.
But when I get home, I’m often spent. Tired. Maybe slightly cranky. Home is where I’m allowed to be grumpy and I’ll still be loved, so all my ugly bits come out in the moments of day-to-day living, when we’re trying to organize our lives, figure out who paid what bill, decide if we should make a doctor’s appointment, who’s cooking dinner. Those normal moments become mean moments when my patience wears thin and my exterior of “nice” falls down.
I make it sound awful at our house. I promise it’s not. Rather, it’s normal at our house. We are a family, a marriage, parents and kids, trying to live in a space and learn and grow together.
Out in the world, it’s sometimes easier to remember who we’re supposed to love. We’re called to love one another:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
(John 13:34–35, emphasis added)
I can easily name off some one anothers in my life: my co-worker, my next-door neighbor, my best friend, my volunteer teammate at church.
But in moments at home—when my patience is wearing thin and life gets in the way—I need to remember:
My family are still my one anothers.
When I’m called to love one another, that includes my husband and my kids and my parents and my in-laws. It’s easy to under-apply Scripture to our families, particularly in the case of marriage.
We leave marriage discussions at Ephesians 5, Genesis 2, maybe Mark 10 . . . perhaps adding in the Song of Solomon for something spicier. For the family, we might turn to Deuteronomy 6.
Paul, James, and other leaders in the church wrote about many relational issues inside the churches of the first century. However, the one anothers of the New Testament letters to the churches can reach deeper than our relationships with those to our left and our right when we sit down for worship. The great reformer Martin Luther referred to marriage and family as a little church. In our homes, in our marriages, with our children and even our grandchildren, we reflect the bigger Church. This pokes at us and reminds us to begin applying the heart of what God tells us the Church should look like, first with those we love:
- Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
- Honor one another (Romans 12:10)
- Build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Teach one another (Colossians 3:16)
- Pray for one another (James 5:16)
- Confess to and forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
How do each one of these apply within our marriage? How do each one of these apply within our parenting?
My family doesn’t necessarily need a nicer version of me. I’m sure they would more than gladly take nicer, but what they really need isn’t nice, but rather Jesus shining through me.
They are still my one anothers.
When I bear my spouse’s burdens and the burdens of my children alongside them, I reflect the Church. I help them see Christ, who is carrying their burden with them every day.
When I pray with my family, I invoke the Spirit to not only live inside each of us, but to move in that moment for us, to intercede for us in our needs, and to draw us closer both to Christ and to one another.
When I encourage and cheer on my spouse, as well as my kids and even my parents, I bring the joy of Jesus into their world, which can otherwise be full of harshness.
I will always bear burdens, love, forgive, teach, and everything else on the one another list imperfectly, incompletely. Only God offers perfection in relationship, but He is working in me and in my home.
Let’s start together—today choose one one another and begin to consider how it is lived out in your home. What can be done differently in regards to this one another? What do you need the Spirit’s help with for this one?
Homes are beautiful places, offering safety and comfort from a world in turmoil, but they also need a lot of work, and that’s okay. Jesus is up for our challenges. Let us spur each other on, as we trade in nice for one another.
Read a free week of my Bible study on the Song of Songs, Altogether Beautiful!