Sunday, June 22, 2014

Porch Living

This is what the saucer looks like underneath that cute rose-shaped teacup.

Though sparse, there are few flowers available, and these are displayed in an old salt shaker.

You will have to ignore the fact that the outside of house needs a paint job. It may even have to wait few years, as it will take a crew to do it. In the meantime I am concentrating on keeping it as nice as I can and trying not to see all the flaws.

I was happy to see a local store carrying Bluebonnet seeds. 

Today as I sit on the porch in the sun, want to share something that has been on my mind for several months. Ladies often request a post on this subject. I usually think about a topic for quite awhile before I post it, so that I can plan my approach and make a mental outline of my thoughts. 

This is a subject that can sometimes be very sensitive: that of good manners in families and in church. It is so important that people understand what is, and what is not appropriate to do an say in some situations. In the Christian life, we learn that we must be gentle in our approach to people. There are, however, situations that will require correction. This is just a synopsis of what to do to promote peace and avoid confrontation.

In a preachers family, we have had to be very diplomatic and very cautious with people, and careful in many respects. Sometimes I hear the way people respond to their fellow-man with hasty, sharp replies and constant corrections -- and these are grown people, not children or students or those in their formative years talking to teens or tots -- and I think that if our family spoke to people in such an abrupt way, we would have been moving around a whole lot more than we did. We have been in the same ministry for 43 years and have observed a lot of things, so today I am sharing some of it here, to those who care to read it.

In business I hear people talking to their co-workers in such a way that would have gotten us booted out within a day, for no one wants to have a rude minister and ministers wife interacting with people. It would hurt the church's reputation and send the preacher packing over and over until he had nowhere to land. I see college students, particularly the girls, speaking harshly to their parents or their teachers and wonder how they will survive in their careers or a marriage.

I will divide the lesson into subjects, as best I can, in order to share my thoughts and beliefs about manners at home and at church.This lecture is directed to young ladies, and in general it says that the manners you practice at home will be the manners you extend in the church. An elderly man whom we all respect in our local congregation told us that lack of respect at church can often be traced to lack of manners in the home.

Ettiquette at Home and Church

In a family, I think it is important not to practice being so casual with each other that you cast aside all propriety and lapse into criticism and insults. You may have come from a home where this was commonly practiced, and it was considered acceptable because, after all, you are family, and still have to live together. Growing up in this conflict can make people think it is normal, and they carry the arguing habit into their own newly-formed families. Unless they recognize the harm in arguing and defying, they pass the attitudes on to the next generation. There are some ways to change things, if a person has a mind to do so:

1. Bite your tongue.

In "the old days" a person was admonished by the older generation not to say whatever came to their minds, but to think it through and imagine the reaction to your words. Err on he side of shyness and restraint. Wait and see if the other person will change, and give them a chance to grow. Overlook a fault unless it puts you in personal danger.

Pro 11:13    A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

Sometimes women or girls can get very sharp-tongued, being quick to correct everyone on every little thing. They may feel they should show people how intelligent they are by turning everything into a big issue or a debate. This behavior is not smart at all. It is what the New Testament describes as a loud, clanging cymbal; that is to say, a lot of noise and show. It is not always wise to confront people. Try to think if they might react in a harsh way to your criticism. If they do, you are bringing more stress on yourself. Ask yourself if you are willing to live with the repercussions. Some things do need correcting, so be sure it is important enough to make it worth the backlash you might get.

Pro 16:20    He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.

2. Restrain yourself.

Sometimes in a home, someone may feel like playing but others do not want to play. I have found it best to leave people alone if they do not want to interact with others. Some people would rather read a book. Not everyone wants to party. If they are not causing trouble, leave them alone. There are some people that feel they must continually stir people up. This fits the description in Proverbs of the people that lose sleep if they are not causing trouble:

Proverbs 4:16  " For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall."

3. Practice peacefulness.

Confrontation causes reaction, which results in stress for both parties. Some people think it is healthy to confront others often about every little thing, but I guarantee you that people do not like to be constantly confronted and are never going to warm to you. In fact, if you make a habit of confronting people, you will find they flee from you when they see you coming.

By confronting, I am speaking of making an issue of everything and getting people into a conference to discuss an issue, and in general creating stress by putting someone on the spot. We are told by worldlings (a silly word I use when I am referring to the world's advisors) that confronting someone is advisable, but I have never seen it work out well. A young lady is not required to confront older people, and she must leave a lot of things to play out by themselves. If you get in the habit of trying to run other people or get your own way all the time, you will be impossible to live with as a mate and as a church member.

One thing I grew tired of early in life was the practice of setting up a meeting with someone for the purpose of working out your differences or "clearing the air." I observed that dredging up all the offenses and trying to explain and re-explain your actions or intentions only brought up old wounds and caused more offenses and more problems. Some people had the idea that all parties should get together and "have it out" but I never saw that such conferences ever resulted in life-long friendships. Confrontation only continued the problem. Sometimes if you leave things alone, a problem will take care of itself. Older people will often say this.

I was taught to "let sleeping dogs lie." (Poirot would say, "let the sleepy dog tell the lie" :-). In other words, it isn't too bright to stir up a problem if everyone seems to be letting it lie still and die down. I never once saw a confrontation conference change anything for the better. It only alienated people from the ones who were setting up the confrontation.

This of course does not apply when raising children, as confrontation will be necessary. I am referring to the unpleasant habit that occurs in adult conversation. Christian ladies have to interact with people in a way that gives and takes, does not dominate or manipulate the conversation, and is edifying and pleasant. This is quite a skill, which could be achieved through role-playing an argumentive person with a conciliatory person.

4. Practice deference.

This is a yielding and humble attitude in conversation, toward parents and grandparents and others who are older than you. Do not get the idea that it means to let people walk all over you or that it means you must agree to something that is wrong. It means to defer, or yield your opinion in order to keep a pleasant conversation. If you can sense that someone is argumentive, do not give them any fuel by insisting on winning the argument. It is painful for others to have to listen to it and you are not endearing yourself to anyone.

Deference includes respecting older people. Younger women should not argue with older women, and should practice deference. In yielding, it does not mean you agree with a person, but it shows that you are too polite to argue or to try to win an argument. Learn all you can about he quality of deference, for it is one of the sources of ladylike and gentlemanly behavior.

5. Be alert to the cold shoulder.

Do not expect family members and church members, friends and people you do business with, to spell out every detail for you of how you should act in order to be polite. Plan on picking up some hints by observing people's response to you. Some people's expressions are clear. When they frown, they may want you to leave them alone. When they smile, they may be giving you permission to be more friendly. Some people will turn their back on you or give you the cold shoulder. Think before you confront them about it. Let them cool off. Confrontation may just make matters worse.

A person who avoids you is giving you the cold shoulder. If you are a young lady and find this happening a lot in your life, use it as a signal to retreat and be a little less pushy; a little more demure. There may be other reasons that someone will give you the cold shoulder. It is possible they are rude. If so, let them alone. Do not try to pursue a friendship with a rude person if it causes more stress for you.

I have observed that the wisest people are willing to let a matter slide, and not try to solve it. They overlook a fault and give people room to grow. As I said before, this does not apply when raising children, because they have to be guided into proper attitudes and behavior. Just make sure your children know they cannot raise the rest of the world. They cannot boss their elders around or correct the bad manners of people around them. They must be respectful.

6. Learn to be discerning.

The person who says you have to come to them and tell them what they did wrong, is someone who is not discerning the situation. They should size up the situation by watching how others are behaving. For example, many mothers want their children to look to them for authority and advice and they take offense when a young lady tries to come between a mother and a daughter with her opinions. Gather all kinds of clues from observing the things that go on around you and from the way people speak and act. Avoid those that create discord, and avoid creating discord yourself.

Observe the church members who have been in peaceful existence for a long time, in the church where you attend. If they are content to leave people in peace and and are not argumentive or meddling with people, take note. If you are a young lady wanting to be accepted, observe the other ladies. Many of them, though not "social butterflies", are pleasant enough and mindful of the privacy of the other members. They seem to be able to detect whether too much attention might embarrass someone, and whether a little extra attention is needed. They neither overwhelm people with abrupt behavior, nor dismiss people by being disinterested. If you are a young lady, the best thing to do is be ready to make friends but wait for others to make the first move, especially if you are new in a congregation. Let others get used to seeing you and having you around, ease into the social situation, and never assume anything. Rely on the older women to gain a sense of propriety ( discerning what to say and what not to say or do )in social situations such as birthday observances, baby and wedding showers, and ladies Bible studies.

7. When corrected by an elder, thank them and move on.

Do not stay and try to justify yourself as if you were trying to prove your case in court. Sometimes an older women will not want you to roam through her house, going into closed off areas and snooping into private places of the house. If you do this and are corrected, do not make up stories about being lost. To learn more about this, read "On Being a Good Guest: Private Spaces". Be careful not to create a huge issue, followed by a personal confrontation or a meeting to hash things out, when someone just does not want to socialize, seems to want more privacy, or declines an invitation. You will not regret overlooking the matter, but if you create a big issue over something, you have to live with that memory the rest of your life.

8. Know your place.

That sounds very old-fashioned, but it is so valuable and will keep a lot of stress and resentment out of your life and make you easy to get along with. Young ladies should be careful not to have a know-it-all attitude or argue about everything. They should remember that they are not old and experienced in life and have not endured many trials. They should not expect to boss or lord it over anyone. Neither should they try to usurp a mother's authority or act superior.

Young ladies should be taught to observe and be aware of everything around them. You can discern a lot about the character qualities of a person by observing how they interact with their parents and with older people. It is important to be alert about this because it prevents you from naively participating in an argument or getting pulled into a friendship or an agreement to do something, that you may regret. Be discerning.

Jesus told the Pharisees that they were good about discerning the weather, but they could not discern the times. (Luke 12:56) That means they could see only what was in front of them but were not being aware of what was going on around them.

To be aware of how to be mannerly, use all of your senses. People should not have to always tell you everything. People sometimes send off simple signals in response to rudeness. They may shrink from an agressive person, or they may feel too stressed to respond to someone who has been rude, and just shut down and not communicate. If you are a young lady and want to avoid offending people, and desire to be well-mannered, use your senses and your good sense, to discern when you have been too inquisitive, have monopolized conversation, been too self-centered in conversation, have not shown honor to your parents, are not thoughtful in your treatment of others, etc.

Learn also that not everyone is the same. People will not follow the rules you want them to. There are some people who are not comfortable with confrontation. They would rather avoid a rude person than confront them. They may have a sensitive nature that causes them to feel very stressed out if they have a confrontation. Be considerate of the way others do things.

Naturally there are things that need to be confronted, which will require discernment. This post is intended for those who are trying to reduce the amount of stress in their lives. A lot of stress can be avoided if you will cut down on the amount of conflict you create by impulsive confrontation and arguing. There is enough stress to be had without creating it ourselves. Sometimes it is best to be quiet about controversies and faults.

It seems like there is a lot to remember, but when you adopt a graciousness and a "live-and-let-live" quality into your life, it will become natural to be polite, without even thinking.

I highly recommend this article called Hints and Helps on Good Behavior at all Times and at all Places. In fact, I am fairly certain you will like what you read there.

It is getting late and I see the sun is setting, so I will post a photo of it and say goodnight.


Lydia said...

What an excellent article, Lydia. I want to read this over when I feel wronged by someone or feel put on the spot to take action I'm not comfortable taking.

I would also like a little advice on dealing with extremely sensitive people. I have someone close to me who takes offense at the smallest thing or misreads comments or actions and gets hurt feelings. She's not a youngster... she's in her mid-40s and has children. Sometimes I even think she does it on purpose, but I try to resist that thought.

She says she's just a sensitive person and in tune with others' feelings (in fact there are times she sees things that aren't there and this causes family upheaval) and that's just the way God made her. This leaves me feeling like an insensitive bully, but trying to appease her is impossible. Sympathizing with tears and sorrows for past insensitivity on my part, her bad upbringing, or imagined slights has worn me out and actually made me less sympathetic to her. She's overly effusive with her compliments toward me, which makes me feels mistrustful of her when I'd like to display warmth and love. I never feel restful or comfortable around her.

I'm sorry for such a long post. We had a falling out a few years ago, and I've just refused to discuss it with her any further as it only leads to more hurt feelings and re-hashing of topics that will never be changed as they are done and gone and apologies do no good. Maybe younger women reading this will consider their actions more carefully and try not to hold a grudge or be overly critical of the responses of their elders. I've really been very fond of this young woman and sympathetic to her for many years, I'm hoping we can be close again someday.

Lydia said...

I have heard this excuse, several times in the past. " I am a very sensitive person" etc, but have discovered that in many cases it is a well-rehearsed method of controlling!

If the person is "so sensitive" they need to sense how their reaction puts stress on others and creates a problem, sometimes when none actually existed in the first place.

There was an old saying, "the buck stops here". , and it meant, among other things, that a person had the option of putting a stop to a problem and not passing it on and creating a big deal out of it.

If they are constantly being sensitive and offended, and telling it, the problem is perpetuated and the stress continues for both parties. Such sensitive people might consider biting their tongues, and keeping the matter quiet, not creating an issue.

Please offer more insights into this, as it is something I would be willing to discuss. I see "sensitivity" as a form of manipulation by the weak, who,instead of learning to grow up and be strong, wallows in her immaturity and weakness, always ready to take offense when other people have a different view.

As for the "this is the way God made me" excuse, (I hear that one too) the person needs to do a serious study of character traits, both the good and the bad, in the Bible. God does not permanently saddle people with serious character flaws like self-centeredness or manipulative behavior. Instead, the Bible admonishes followers of Christ to put off their "old self" and out on Christ, adopting the personality of Christ. The fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5, and the "add to your faith" character list in 2 Peter 1:5-9 are things the Christian must become. It includes things like patience and brotherly love, and says those that lack these qualities "are blind and cannot see afar off." In other words, they are spiritually short-sighted. They are thinking constantly of their own wounds and can never heal, because they keep opening them up. If young women want to have confidence they need to be sensitive to the feelings of others, not self-focused ready to melt down all the time because of their own perceived "sensitivity".

Lydia said...

A friend wrote the first comment but I had to paste it for anonominity. It looks like I wrote them both, but I only commented on the first post

Anonymous said...

Claiming that God made you sensitive is wrongly using Gods authority to sanction your character flaws, and at the same time intimidating other people into submitting to all your complaints.

Anonymous said...

What about the person who interprets silence as "they're mad at me", and then proceeds to assume wildly in regards to that, driving themselves nuts and then displaying obscene levels of emotion that didn't need to be there to begin with?

Lydia said...

That is a problem because of people's dependence on social approval. When you mature and focus on something g important, like developing your character or skills, you don't need to have constant reinforcement from other people.

Anonymous said...

I'm the poster of the first comment. My friend says she's just tender hearted and emotional. She IS very emotional, but when trying to discuss our differences, she's got a very sharp tongue and is quite good at arguing, always having a quick answer. I think manipulated is a good term to explain how I feel.

My greatest concern is how I can repair/renew this relationship, if possible. I can't change what she thinks and the more I try to defend myself the deeper I get into explaining things. There are other people involved that she thinks I have turned against her, when she's done it herself. But for me to reveal that would only hurt others.

So far I have had to adopt the attitude that I need to live my life peacefully with those who know and love me and let go of trying to defend myself. I believe that in the end all will come right and the truth will be revealed.

If anyone has any other suggestions, I would be interested to hear them.

ChristyH said...

I so needed to read this and will need to read again and again. I do say almost anything that comes into my head and usually people find me funny and witty, but I KNOW I should keep my mouth shut more often. I will be printing this and really try to be more thoughtful in my speech.

I will confess a little cautionary tale. I have seen my mouthy ways with my young teens. Not pleasant to realize they say what they say because of you. They aren't terrible but I can see where people might be offended. sighhh

Katrinka said...

I really love the netting on the porch. It is so creative and lovely.

I think there's something beautiful about a shabby looking house that needs paint but is still obviously loved and well-cared for by evidence of flowers and pretty cushions and colorful porch furniture. Little touches of color and beauty are possible even if painting isn't.

Really lovely wicker with pillows.

Lydia said...

You should have the upper hand if renewing the relationship. It cannot go back into her controlling you with her sensitivity. I suggest a card on her birthday and Christmas but not too much time spent with her. She needs to grow up. Complaining and accusations takes it toll on older women. It is added stress to the child rearing they have done. It takes a lot out of you especially if you had a troubled family member. So if a friend puts stress on you the time with her has to be limited and monitored for quality control :-)

candy said...

Hi Lydia,
I enjoyed this post very much as well as the beautiful photos of your home!
I also wanted to let you know that I finally started blogging again.

Your friend,
Candy from Canada

Teresa said...

This advice is well timed for me, thank you so much. I "knew" something was amiss with me socially, I just couldn't put my finger on it. I'm not in the overly-sensitive category, but I'm certainly one inclined to not let sleeping dogs lie. My "dogs" have certainly been awake; even if I never confront people, I'll mentally review a potential confrontation over and over again, "just in case." No wonder I've been exhausted, stressed and concerned about certain relationships. It's about time I take the beam out of my eye and remember how Jesus would have me think of and interact with others. I appreciate having wisdom on this subject from someone older than myself. Thanks again.

Lydia said...

It takes a lot out of you just thinking about possible conflicts!

Eventually you can home down your social contacts to the ones that you really enjoy, and avoid the ones that make you feel tense

Lydia said...

Candy I put your beautiful blog on my sidebar

I hope you post all lot of beautiful things

And I hope since you are just over the border in Canada, that we might really meet someday

Lydia said...

There is also something very manipulative and controlling about saying, "I need to talk to you" or "We need to talk, and then getting some poor unsuspecting person alone behind closed doors without warning, having no defense or witnesses, In order to go through a perceived problem with a fine tooth comb, making a long speech in order to put them on the spot or extract an explanation or an apology. I have seen this done in churches, where one person will get someone off away from the crowd in order to work out some personal problem. I think this puts pressure and stress on people and ought not to be done without warning. In this day of the phone and email, I wonder why they cannot use that as a means of quiet communication? Why confront someone and put stress on them? Is this necessary? If the person is not bothering anyone and is minding their own business, why stir up trouble? I do not have televison and do not watch reality shows. I do not know if this sort of thing is a regular practice on these shows,mor in media in general. If so,it is hardly a good influence and is a very harmful example. Inthink at least a phone call could be made or a quiet email. Instead, some people want to make a big drama and a long speech and corner someone so they cannot get away.

Katrinka said...

Drama, high emotion, and confronting others. The older I get the more I appreciate the way my parents dealt with conflict, much as the way you describe it, Lydia. We children grew up during the time that group counselling and blaming parents and letting it all out was the new thing, and our parents got an earful I'm sorry to say.

Many years ago our family attended a christian fellowship with an older man as the leader. He confided jokingly to the group that he had lied on his employment application. My husband felt that a man in his position ought not to be dealing with that topic in such a flippant manner and wrote him a letter explaining his concern. The older man took great offense and there was a huge flap and he went to his employer and confessed and then accused my husband of being a messenger from the devil. Extreme emotional upheaval followed, with church members mostly quietly siding with my husband but criticizing him for doing it in a letter rather than face to face. My husband remained unperturbed through it all. When I questioned him about his feelings concerning the criticism, he told me that everyone felt this man needed to be confronted but none of them wanted to do it, and now that he had they wanted to criticize his method. But he remained calm and confident about what he had done and how he had handled it.

A word about people who are overly sensitive and would like to change that attitude. If I were a person who took offense easily or was tending toward being overly sensitive, I would try to remind myself that everything is not always about me. If I feel someone is upset with me and my conscience is clear and they've said nothing to me, I would try to calmly consider that there are many other things going on in a person's life. It could be their job, children, or even a headache.

And we don't always have to set people straight... people have a right to their own feelings and opinions, even if we think they're wrong. God can work on those people just as He works on us.

I also wanted to comment that I appreciate you photographing your weeds! I take care of my husband and as he declines, my home and gardens get less and less attention. Almost everything gets done, just not all at one time, and some things won't get done again for a long time. At least by me. It's a struggle to let go of some of the things that I took such pride in during past years. Priorities are so important.

Lydia said...

If someone seems aloof, I think it is a mistake to confront t them. It is not something I feel comfortable doing because it opens up another stress, and may create a new conflict. There is a saying, "never trouble trouble, til trouble troubles you." If someone has shown their self to be a trouble maker, (I will call that character "trouble") it makes no sense to meddle with them unless they create a disturbance.

Private conferences with people are usually not so private and eventually it alarms other people and they want to know what the trouble is. So as a preachers family, we try to avoid all these confrontations where people want to create a scene. It is best to say "we do not attend these kinds of meetings because we have never seen them work"

ChristyH said...

Something you said in the comments reminded me of something that happened last summer. A "concerned" friend said she wanted to get together for a walk but then proceeded to share with me how she was concerned about something from one of my children that had already passed and been dealt with. She told me she didn't want me to get defensive. I felt so hurt and stressed. I was taken completely off guard and then shut down because anything I would have said would have been seen as defensive, plus she was confronting from gossip that she had heard.

I will say that whole episode taught me so many things. When ever someone says they want to talk with me I start to worry. I have never confronted anyone even if I think they are wrong unless they live in my house, aka children. This friend and I have never recovered our friendship and never will. Short of flagrant sin it isn't my place to wake those "sleeping dogs." I have left my position at church of helping out with teen girls in part because of this.

If my comment is "too Much" I understand if you don't want to post it.

Lydia said...

A very valid comment.

Some mothers prolong a problem that has already been dealt with, by cross examining everyone involved, and the. Having a kind of court case where all the evidenced is laid out and painfully questioned down to the tiniest detail.

Anonymous said...

That word "concern" always means something else!

Andrea R said...


This post is wonderful on so many levels...your porch is very welcoming and beautiful!

On another note, you know I have shared with you about my "lack of friendships" in the past many years.

For a long, long time, I really thought there was something wrong with me, because I have no friends that I spend time with. I constantly wondered why other ladies go, go, go and do, do, do with their girlfriends..always on the phone or the computer with them.

My husband really showed me the truth on this recently, and you helped me to understand, as well.

While I am FAR from perfect, and I don't assert that I don't have friends because I'm so wonderful and everyone else isn't, the truth is, my life differs from other women so much that I'm simply not dramatic enough to fuel the flames of that type of modern friendship.

While I have ladies over a lot, and my husband says I'm loyal to a fault of being hurt, women do not choose to make me their BFF. ;)

I have nailed it down..when gossip comes to me, I just nod and then shut it right down. I cannot stand that in my home. Additionally, since I'm committed to my husband, keeping a lovely home and raising/schooling 8 children, I simply do not have time for Facebook and Starbucks, and lunch dates, and shopping at the mall, etc.

I once thought I was doing something wrong by not being able to "keep up" with others...then my husband reminded me that when I have tried, my heart is heavy over their feministic/haughty tendencies and it wreaks havoc on my spirit.

The truth is, God has me RIGHT where He wants me to be..that's the only reassurance I need! He has provided me real friendships with ladies with whom I can confide and likewise, me with them. It doesn't have to be exchanging my home life of peace with a contentious life of entertaining myself out of my home on a daily basis to constitute real friendship!

I know my heart, and where I am prone to wander..Lord I feel it! God has placed me here, with a quiet life to protect myself and family from the contentious, and gossiping tendencies we could be exposed to.

Thank you for this post. I will pray today that my heart continues to lay down any desire to seek after friendships that are not edifying in spirit.

God Bless you!

Lisa said...

A beautiful view!

Gail said...

I'm thinking of someone who cries at the drop of a hat, and says how hurt she is by this or that, but she is one of the meanest people I know, and when it comes to holding grudges, does she ever take the prize!

Lydia said...

Interesting how these sensitive people can rule, and how frightened people become of them.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this...Thank you...