We call it the “telephone voice.”
It has become a silly joke in our home, but it began with the very sobering discussion that I could go from a serious, less-than-amorous tone with my children to a sweet-tempered, patient voice when answering the telephone.
Most of us can relate because we all have times in our families that bring out the serious stresses and major mood changes we would never dream of displaying online or in public.
Such behavior begs the question: who gets our best – our families or others?
It is strange to think that we might have a “good,” “better” and “best” to our lives. I wish I could say that my family always gets my best, but rather, they often get the “leftovers.”
When my husband arrives home from a long day at work, he will sometimes get my leftover energy with a halfhearted attempt at the family dinner table, when all I really would like to do is climb the steps to my room waving a white flag. I sometimes have to muster up the gumption to smile and be pleasant in conversation to get through the rest of the evening. This is my “good.”
Packing the van for a trip to the park with friends brings out a few stresses that I continually work on to simplify and improve, but my family feels the brunt of every activity that takes extra work. Our friends at the park share our smiles, fun and fellowship, but the stresses remain in the car, or at home.
Why do we save our best for others, when our families should come first? It seems we are saving the best for last.
We are naturally more comfortable with our loved ones at home. We can relax more at home and show our weakness and weary moments with our family. But, when it comes to giving them our best and not the leftovers in a day, this takes work. It means being intentional in ways that may go against everything in our spirit.
Our first-response reactions can be one of the hardest areas to conquer. Little by little, our habits can be stretched into goodness on the home-front. Working our smiling muscles, the quick words off of our tongues and in our tones, can set the mood for everyone.
Giving your best to your family may feel like you having nothing left to give. That is when grace fills in gaps.
Often I am oblivious that I am using a different tone of voice or showing less favor to someone in my home compared to our time with friends or others. It is usually by innocent questions from my family that I become aware I am making those I love feel less important than they should be in my life.
Ask your family… do they feel like #1 in your life? Search their hearts to hear the truth of what they see in you.
Another misplacement of priority can be our time. There is a fine balance that is unique to each family that will speak volumes of love or misplaced dedication to our loved ones. It is by prayer and wisdom that we must examine how our family is receiving our time away from them. Our actions are sometimes quite regrettably unrecognizable to even ourselves.
We need to love our families in the same way we love unto others. Christ calls us to Holy Living. A sacrifice of praise.
May our lips and lives bring out the best of Him, wherever we are.