There are some days I wonder how I am going to make it through. The kids are fighting, the house is a mess, the bills need to be paid but there isn’t enough money for everyone, and we have appointments and obligations that keep us on the move with no time to rest. Someone may have cut me off in traffic, at the store they don’t have what I need, and I’ve been on hold on an important call for an hour with no end in sight. On days like this I tend to get cranky. I snap at the kids, I snap at my husband, and sometimes I just give up altogether and hide out in my bedroom, ignoring everyone and everything.
It’s not a pretty sight.
And then there are times that my day is going great but one of the kids spills his/her drink everywhere right after we have cleaned the kitchen and put a new tablecloth on the table. Or maybe several can’t find their shoes (again!) and it’s time head out the door to an appointment or perhaps even church. There are tears and fighting about who lost what and who should be in trouble because of it. Then again, maybe it’s that my husband needs me to stop what I am doing to help him find something that, had he put away yesterday, wouldn’t be lost today. At those times I am bound to lose my cool… ok, let’s be honest, it’s enough to drive me to yell or to say some rather not nice things.
Maybe you are like me and when you are irritated or perhaps the weight of the world is on your shoulders, the first people you take your frustrations out on is your family.
Why do we do that? Why do we often treat strangers better than those we love and those we are closest too? We would never think to yell and lose our minds at friends or even strangers and yet we easily snap at our little ones or our spouse who simply want to love us. It makes no sense.
I think we do this because we know they will continue to love us despite our failings and so we are willing to take our anger and frustration out on them. Our friends may leave us and strangers certainly won’t care if they ever see us again, but our family wants us to be close to us and because of this they are willing to endure our crazy ups and downs.
But should they have to endure this type of treatment?
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “Sometimes it is harder for us to smile at those who live with us, the immediate members of our families, than it is to smile at those who are not so close to us. Let us never forget: love begins at home.”
Love begins at home.
It sounds so simple.
It sounds so simple because it is so simple.
God blesses us with the people in our families for a reason. The spouse that is beside us- he or she is there to help us become a better person. The children He has given us, well, they are the greatest treasure we could ever hope to find. They also help mold us into the people He calls us to be. Our paths did not cross by chance. God knows what and who we need to help us become the best versions of ourselves. He knows the trials we need to face, the battles we need to fight, and He makes sure we are surrounded with just the right people to help us through it all.
When we think of our spouses and our children in this manner- God given gifts who are here to perfect us- it’s easy to see how our families deserve more than we often give them. They deserve our very best.
When we treat our families as second best, we are saying to God that we don’t appreciate the gifts He has given us. If we love others, but don’t love the most important people God has placed in our lives, how can we say we truly love? We can’t. If we want to love God, we must love our families.
Love must begin at home.
When we give our best to our families, we are able to love God more completely. When we love those whom God has given us, we also teach them to love. That love will multiply in ways we can never imagine. When love begins in our homes we not only affect our children and our spouses, we affect those outside of our homes too. When love is present in our homes it can’t help but to spill over into the rest of our lives and to everyone we encounter.
By loving our children and our spouses well we in turn can’t help but love others.
Love must begin at home. It must be nurtured and tended and treated with care. When we are tempted to take our frustrations out on our families we have to stop and think about the consequences of those actions. When we decide to love instead of yell, we all benefit.
We reap what we sow and if we sow anger, we will raise angry children. If we sow anger, our marriages will suffer. However, if we sow love, we will raise loving children and our marriages will flourish. The fruit of the harvest will be bountiful! When our homes overflow with love it is next to impossible not to want to share that love and joy with others!
Love begins at home but it doesn’t end there. The love that we nurture within our families has the power to change the world. If we could all fill our homes with love the world would never be the same.
Michelle Fritz is a daughter of God, a cradle Catholic, a Georgia peach, a devoted wife of almost 30 years to amazing husband Mike, and an eclectic homeschooling mother to eleven living children. She has experienced the loss of 16 babies in her call to be open to life, but knows that God is always loving and always gracious. She and her husband know that they have an army of Saints already in heaven!
In addition to her vocation as wife, mom, and homeschool teacher she also holds a Masters in Theology and has recently taken on the role of Youth Minister for both the middle school and high school groups at her parish.