Last Updated on March 20, 2018

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!

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  1. Okay…here goes.
    I got a great family. That being said, at times…Hurricane Fay coming to visit this Thursday seems more appealing.
    This does not mean that my family is not welcomed. Or loved. Or missed. It means that the destruction to our everyday family life is not near as discombobulated (spelling?!?!) when a natural disaster comes as to when my "wonderful" family seems to visit and take root. If even for a few short days.
    Despite this…I love my family. I need my family.
    My family has made me what I am and despite what my wife says…that's okay. 😉
    My family is the best. Pretty much non-disfunctional, non-combative and non-intrusive (okay I'm not 100% honest with that last one…but we are family and that's okay). We stick together AND WE LOVE EACH OTHER!!!
    I miss them and despite my words my new family (wife and four sons) strives to be JUST LIKE THEM!
    I grew up in a great atmosphere. Great neighborhood. And with love. AND THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS!
    The rest I can overlook, not saying it's easy, but it can be done…with love and Oragel (to soothe the pain of biting thru my lip at times).
    The TRUTH:
    My family is the best. I remember my childhood growing up…from "ghost in the graveyard" to playing in the creek to going to high school football games to visiting that new McDonald's to Halloween costumes to watching thunderstorms on the front porch to ducking in the front seat of the car (as to not cramp the style of an older sibling cruising) to spot light to lima beans smashed under the plate (not my plate, mind you) to Chistmas morning.
    I miss that. And I pray my four sons say the same thing one day about their family (minus the hurricane and intrusive part).

  2. Jennifer Dyer says:

    You know what one of the greatest things about family is? Even though you drive each other crazy while in close quarters everyone still cries when it's time to leave. As for a spiritual application… Who better to help sanctify us than the people that have to love us, warts and all.

  3. Thanks for the pep talk.
    I grew up in a family that had few family members stay as overnight guests (partly because we lived fairly close together). I married into a family that believes a visit means at least an overnight stay, preferably a few days.
    That's taken a little getting used to, but I wouldn't have it any other way. My children know their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on that side of the family much better. I know that has enriched their lives as well as ours.
    Now as I look forward to visiting family in the near future, I'll focus on the benefits of being cozy and close in such an impersonal day and time.

  4. Great reminder… thanks for putting it so well 🙂
    God bless,