The other day I asked a friend if she had fun on her summer vacation. She gave me a resounding ‘yes’ accompanied by a big smile and a brief description of her vacation spent with extended family, but then she added, “a little too much time with family” and I gave her a knowing nod.

I bet you’re sitting there nodding yourself. Isn’t it amazing that we love family so much and want to spend time with them yet when we are with them, we can’t wait to get away, back to our familiar way of doing things. What’s up with that? Well, I know the answer to that question. I am shamefully admitting that when I spend time with my extended family it puts a big giant spotlight on just how selfish and set in my ways I am.

As I look at my own life it is evident to me that I have a safe little system with those I am around all the time. It’s a dance that is well-perfected. As long as we are getting along we dance, but when someone gets in my space I back off. Then time and distance smooths out the awkwardness and when I feel safe again, we will see each other and the dance starts fresh, new and comfortable. I have dubbed this as the avoidance of annoyance! Shame on me … I am trying to do better.

However, when visiting with family there is no escape. How can you avoid someone you are in close quarters with for a week? This dance holds no perfection, only frustration. It basically turns into a week-long dancing frenzy where expectations are not met, needs are not always fulfilled and if you can believe it … I don’t always get my way. For a while I can manage quite well, but then I can’t take the dancing anymore, I get exasperated with how others don’t live their lives like me and I start to murmur, grumble and complain.

Hubby and I have discussed this over and over. We agree that we will remain loving, kind and patient with family and each other. But time after time we start off with good intentions, start off doing quite well and then that nasty murmuring starts:  We eat whatever, they like to make a production out of meals; we eat early, they eat late; we prefer the television off, they prefer it on; we like to spend time with our children, they like to spend time with adults only; we like to be outside, they prefer to be inside; we don’t like shopping they must go shopping. Amazing how simple preferences can cause internal conflict and start the murmuring until there is an annoying buzz pulsing in my brain and spilling out of my mouth.

What’s the answer?

The answer is that it is not all about me.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4

Ah, the truth of Scripture. But … no, no “but” allowed, I have discussed how my big but has gotten me into trouble before, we shall not add yet another big but to the equation.

Basically ladies, what I have come to realize is that when I spend time with my extended family I must be flexible and love others where they are and set my routine and way of doing things aside. I mean really, what’s one week doing things a little different going to hurt anyway?

As I think about this I must ask myself how many times I have said the following to my children: “Play nice, share and think of others first.” I need to listen to my own advice!