For as lovely as words can look on a screen, life can really blur them all together when you’re trying to live them out.
I hosted a Mother’s Day brunch at my house today for some of my extended family, which was filled with sunshine, great food and beautiful people. It was also filled with crap. Literally.
I won’t get graphic or anything, but I do want to share a little piece of this scenario to give you an idea of how very challenging it can be to place relationships and people first. I have a family member who is developmentally disabled and sometimes has bathroom issues. Well, let’s just say that today he had major bathroom issues. In both our bathrooms. And on the new bathroom rug. And even on the freshly-painted walls, discovered by my poor husband hours later.
When I first walked from the outside fresh air into our house and caught a whiff of this accident, my gag reflex went off, and I stepped right back out. Another family member graciously helped him clean everything up, though further setbacks and clean-ups seemed to continue for quite awhile. I found myself feeling disgusted and frustrated that this was all happening on Mother’s Day. And I found that I acted less than gracious and spoke in irritated tones.
As my family members were leaving, I told a couple of them about my blogpost on placing people first and how I couldn’t even post it because I felt like such a hypocrite acting like I care way more about people than my house but then feeling like I wanted everyone to just go away when it got messy. They smiled with understanding and joked that they wouldn’t tell anyone. I thanked my helpful uncle for all his clean-up work dealing with the other family member’s mess, to which he replied, “all small stuff”. And really, in the grand scheme of things, it is, and I know that as a whole.
And I tried to remind myself of that as my husband and I continued to do some aftermath clean-up later.
But the house still smelled like you-know-what, and I just wanted the nice scent of my Mother’s Day bouquet to fill the house as it had before the brunch.
Since we had to be at another gathering, we decided to just open up all the windows, and even left our front doors leading to the screened-in porch open in hopes that it would air out while we were gone.
And it did.
When we walked through the door this evening, the faint smell of cleaning supplies drifted,but mostly just the aroma of evening spring air filled the house. And it reminded me that sometimes all it takes is a few open windows. And there are windows I forget to open all the time. Not just in my house, but in my life.
I know I’m hovering on cheesy here, but it’s true. I remember to open the windows of all my thoughts, ideals, and insights to the world as I write this blog, but sometimes I forget to open the windows of acceptance to my own family members. Yes, I don’t have to love some of the things they do, and there are definitely boundaries I need to set with certain people who choose not to work on their issues, but there’s usually room for more kindness and acceptance even when setting boundaries.
For example, this particular family members was mentally capable of taking some medication that could have prevented these accidents today but chose not to, and he also chose to eat food that he knows upset his stomach, and because of that, he will not be asked to the next gathering at my house. But at the same time, I didn’t even take the time to say goodbye to him today. I could have still hugged him good-bye and shown love despite my frustration.
I think in order to place people first in our lives, we need to challenge ourselves in the ways that we think about others and act toward them, especially with the difficult people.
There are always more windows that can be opened. And always more fresh air we can let in.