If anyone loudly blesses their neighbour early in the morning,
it will be taken as a curse.
A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping
of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
As I said, I’ve been thinking about space. Here’s another thing I’ve noticed during the school holidays.
I remember reading years ago in the book Loving the Little Years something about rocks in a jar. I think putting rocks in a jar might be something people do (?), but I lent that book to someone so I can’t check the facts. Anyway, I give credit to Rachel Jankovic for planting the rock-jar seed in my mind. I think people maybe put rocks in a jar and shake it to make them smooth? Seems a strange strategy to me but let’s just imagine it’s a thing.
Living in my flat with four children and a lovely husband can feel rather like being a rock in a jar with other rocks. We bump into each other, a LOT, and not just physically. The children do “get on” well, but they also annoy each other, and separating them for some quiet time is diffiult. And it’s not just them, of course. I’ve never been someone who particularly enjoys “alone time”, until now. I’ve started closing doors for a bit of peace, but it’s counterproductive because it just means that I get really irritated whenever anyone opens said door. I close the bedroom door to get dressed, which I’m pretty fast at, and am interrupted six times with various emergencies like “he hit me” or “can I have an apple,” or maybe just my poor husband coming in for his belt, only to be greeted by a huffing and puffing wife. Incidentally, from my open bedroom door there is a clear line of sight to the front door, so if that’s open there’s a clear line of sight to the outside world. You get the picture. Not ideal.
There is nowhere in my home that is out of earshot of anywhere else in my home. So it can get loud and a little painful. It’s intense. We’re very much aware of each other’s and our own sin. This can all get pretty tiring. There’s no space to brood, or sulk or be antisocial. So to use the rock-jar metaphor, it is as though we’re bumpy rocks that are being ground down in a pretty intense way.
What’s encouraged me during the school holidays as we’ve spent time in more spacious places or with a less intense schedule, is that I can see that my children are smoother rocks than they once were. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’re smoother than they would be if they hadn’t been in such a small jar with so many other stones. They’ve had the fast-track training course in dealing with other sinful people, and so they’re learning patience. And living on top of each other means that we can nip things in the bud a bit easier than if we were spread out over several floors. (They’re also heavy sleepers – hooray!)
For example, I’ve been trying to encourage (/begging) one of my children to be more helpful, because it’s not something that comes naturally to him. And just when I thought this was getting absolutely nowhere, I noticed these holidays that he is actually becoming more helpful. (While I’ve been writing this I’ve had to go and deal with one of my children about five times because he won’t stay in bed. So we’re definitely a work in progress!)
Now I’m not saying this can’t be achieved in a bigger jar and with fewer stones, but this has just been my own experience. I don’t actually know how it would have been if we lived somewhere else or had fewer children. However, I’m encouraged that what often feels like an impractical or impossible situation may actually be one that’s helping us all to become more Christ-like.
This all helps when I’m thinking about getting all the stones back into the jar, to begin a new term in the 3-bed with the busy schedule and the growing children. Also I think I will get a lock for my bedroom door.
As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
As always, please share this if you find it helpful, and gracious comments are most welcome 🙂