Last week Jen shared about the lifestyle of appreciation and the huge difference it makes in our lives and families. This week, I would like to share a story from my own family to demonstrate the impact appreciation can have on relationships – especially strained or challenging ones.
We have 6 people in our family, which translates to 15 separate 2-way relationships. When you have that many different relationships under one house, it’s rare that they all naturally flow in beautiful harmony. In fact, sometimes the weaknesses in one individual matched with the weaknesses in another can produce an unpleasant cacophony. Here is one example:
One of our younger kiddos has some immaturities that haxve often caused disruption in the home. At the same time, one of our older children (who is likely a 9 on the Enneagram) highly values peace and harmony in the home. The weaknesses in the younger sibling grates on the older sibling’s nerves in a major way, which often results in the older being quite mean and harsh with the younger. At one point, the negativity flowing from the older to the younger got really bad – it was deeply hurting the younger child and actually taking a toll on all of us.
Dealing with the situation has been a multi-faceted process. However, one of my main goals was to help my older child see the younger beyond just their shortcomings. The older was so focused on the issues that drove him nuts that he couldn’t see the genuine beauty in the younger child. Here is where appreciation steps in!
After seeking God about this, He gave me the idea to do a 30-Day Challenge with my older kiddo. Each day when the older got home from school, they had to journal about their sibling. I wrote directions for each day which focused on valuing and appreciating the younger sibling. Here were a few of my directions:
- Share a special memory you shared with this sibling.
- What is a kind thing this sibling has done for you, and why was it so thoughtful?
- Write your sibling a note saying that you hope they have a great day.
- What is a strength you see in your sibling that you would like to grow in?
In full transparency, at some point we got off course and we only got through day 15. But in those 15 days, something shifted. The sharp edge of meanness from the older to the younger settled down and gentleness grew. And, because the younger was now feeling safer and more seen by the older sibling, they began to grow more in their own weaknesses. All of this resulted in a more peaceful home. Now, the relationship is by no means perfect, but there is continued growth and increased kindness, for which I am so thankful!
Appreciation is very simple, yet very powerful. It enables us to fix our eyes on what is good and beautiful in others and can bring hope and change where there are challenges. If you find that there are challenging or strained relationships in your home, especially as we near the holidays, I encourage you to ask God for creative ways to bring appreciation into the situation. You will see how God can use it to bring encouragement and transformation!