House Rules

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Long ago, in what seems like another life, I had two small children at home. I loved my time with them, but I still remember one particularly trying day. That evening, my husband sat me down, listened to my complaints, and came up with a document entitled House Rules. He printed it, framed it, and put it on our kitchen windowsill, where it stayed for many years (until my nearly adult children pointed out that it had become something of an embarrassment.) Like any sentimental mother, I stuck it in a closet. I came across it years later and, after taking a few minutes to reread it, realized those rules are as important for me to follow now as they were for me to teach way back when.

The rules I’m going to share with you have their roots in scripture. Our loving Lord doesn’t sit up in heaven waiting for us to mess up so he can pounce on us and mete out punishment. He has, however, given us a Manufacturer’s Handbook. Doing things his way just works better. So, for the next several weeks, in no particular order, I give you  my family’s version of “House Rules.”

1. Don’t Argue When It Doesn’t Matter.

Psalm 34:14b says, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” This rule is essentially about keeping peace. It boils down to getting really good at saying “So what?” For starters, we ought not to be the details police, forever correcting our friends and family about the everyday, unimportant details of life. If it rained last Tuesday and I ordered fish, but someone describes me eating chicken in the sunshine, so what? 

Then we need to reconsider the details that matter to us, but probably shouldn’t. If the hymn they played on Sunday was a little loud for our liking, so what? ‘Same goes for when a kindergartener wants to wear the same pair of jeans to school every day, or a teenager wants to paint the bedroom walls black, or a spouse is running ten minutes late today. So what? Some things we don’t like do matter, but an awful lot of them just aren’t all that important.  Like the guy in the Indian Jones movies says, we “must choose, but choose wisely!”

I’d love to hear your comments in the coming weeks. What are your house rules? How do you keep them in mind? And when have you had to learn to say, “So what?”

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2 thoughts on “House Rules

  1. I think of this as the “is this the hill you want to die on” question. Thanks for posting this, I definitely needed the reminder and am looking forward to the rest of the rules!

  2. This line makes me smile. If it rained last Tuesday and I ordered fish, but someone describes me eating chicken in the sunshine, so what? It is truly a difficult task being a parent as well as living peacefully in the world. Could these small family disagreements be explained also as the need to develop tolerance and acceptance for each other?
    I must tell you about making a peanut butter sandwich for my granddaughter. She asked for a peanut butter sandwich but when I made it I also put jelly on it. I gave it to her and she said “but Nanny I don’t eat Jelly” I replied with ” I thought every kid likes jelly on peanut” she quickly responds with a very sweet “That’s just how God made me”. Well that woke me up. Who can
    question that one? 🙂 Thanks for your post. This one made me think.
    With respect, hope, joy and love, Carmela

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