Friday, May 26, 2017

Today's Scenes and a Little About Conduct of Outsiders in the Home

Good Morning Ladies,

It is looking quite wild around here and yes, I will try and paint that (below) fence this year.

The wind has wreaked havoc with anything not nailed down, so Mr. S. has secured the metal swing to the trees with you-know-what. Eventually I am going to find some camouflage stretch chords for projects like this.
Of course, the tree could always fall down, but for now we think the swing is stable. It just doesn't look very photogenic. 

I found this little rose tea pot at Goodwill and thought it looked good parked next to the Paul deLongpre yardlong print I got from the same place last year :
Also from a little antique store that recently opened in our town, I found these crocheted trivets which were made by a local woman on commission. We actually USED these kind of things for hot pads on the table back-in-the-day, as they were commonly available, but over the last few decades I haven't seen many of them, so I was delighted to find these. I won't be using them as I do not know if the next generation of women will even be making them!

Also I wanted to share something about the atmosphere of the home.

A lot has been said about how home life should be a peaceful place of refuge.  Recently I have had conversations with other ladies who have experienced people coming into their homes--maybe friends, relatives, neighbors, who engage in loud outbursts and rude, accusing conversation. 

We have talked about the way it poisons the atmosphere of the home. After such people leave, there is an unsettled feeling as though something is missing. It is like the peace and joy fled.  We discussed how it takes some time to recover from the experience and feel "at home" in your own house again. There is also the problem of regaining your confidence afterwards.

In the case of younger people, it could be a rude husband or wife who has not learned the harm in disturbing the home. One of them may have grown up in a home where they thought there should be regular outbursts and constant criticism. They may have thought that is healthy. But there is a segment of society that finds it more harmful than good, particularly the ladies who have dedicated themselves for years at home.

While rude remarks and outbursts would get a person dismissed at work, or perhaps be reported as threatening behavior in public, there are those individuals who (lacking wisdom and knowledge) think it is doesn't hurt  to speak rudely in someones's home.  I suppose they know that no one will write them a ticket or a written warning for public disturbance. There will not be any complaint filed or fine levied against them.

Years ago I did a little searching through old books and magazines to find out how the Victorians viewed the verbal desecration of their persons and well-appointed homes, and found out that even the least wealthy familes had ways of preventing it.  Word would get around about some habitually rude visitor or caller (a caller was someone who just dropped by for a few minutes), and before the said person could make the mistake again in someone else's home, they were stricken from the guest list.   

This was in the day before instant messaging.  It is amazing how fast a report could circulate among a network of people, even from town to town, and without telephones. Overnight, a home wrecker was blacklisted and banished.

No one felt sorry for them, either. 

They allowed them to suffer the consequences on their actions because it often taught them a lesson and helped them to see the mistakes that were hurting their social life. Some would learn from it and be admitted back into the fold of good company. Others who would not reform were simply left out, but it was their choice, just as it was the hostess choice not to include them in polite society.

Because most people had a built-in guard for good manners (due to a well-formed teaching in decency), they responded automatically,  changing the subject, motioning the perpetrator into another room for a private conversation away from people with delicate sensibilities, or escorting them out the door and  verbally giving them the rules of conduct.

It is interesting because today we feel obligated to patiently listen and allow them to "vent". The Victorians were all for free expression but drew the line at disturbing someone in their home,the church, or places of business. Anyone who "lost it" would be so embarrassed they would not want to show their faces to anyone for a long time, and wouldn't accept an invitation if they got one.

Today many women have to sit and listen helplessly to someone's outbursts because they are trying to be understanding and patient. If they claim to be Christians, they feel a double burden, because the perpetrators have an unreal expectation that a Christian is obligated to allow people to speak rudely and create a disturbance.

If the anger or accusations are very intense, it could be worse to try and stop them in the middle of their performance. It is like tangling with a bear. I remember how the homesteaders were very careful not to wound a wild animal, because it became even more dangerous. 

So today I am going to share some things you can do to diffuse the situation, should your home ever become disturbed by someone coming to vent all their resentments.

-Silence.  When someone is angry they are in "the far country" as my husband calls it.  They have gone into a mental state where they cannot be reasoned with. Every response you give them only fuels their anger. Your words also give them more material and evidence against you.  That is something people try to tell you when dealing with the law: even the most innocent remark can be twisted by someone to be used against you. 

-In such a mental cloud, these people do not even recognize or accept any apologies or attempts to make things right with them. In fact, some people do not want to make things right because they enjoy making you feel unsettled. 

- As Christian ladies, we are not able to function well if we know someone is upset with us, and so we attempt to get it straightened out.  However, there are some people who really do not want people to make things right. They enjoy keeping others in a state of emotional uncertainty.

-Be careful about peace offerings. Some ladies have suggested when tension increases to offer Tea.  That is not a good idea when dealing with a wild animal in the far country.  They could ruin a perfectly good tea set. If you still insist on tea to diffuse a bad situation, at least use your tin campfire set of cups.

-Cellphones are abundant these days. I have known a few people who asked permission to make a video of the outburst "because I want to remember what you said and be accurate" only to find the other person gets quiet very quickly. They probably do not want to see themselves on a family movie night in such a condition.

-Avoid trying to appease them with gifts and hand-outs, freebies, or compensations.  Make rudeness a loss and not an advantage. Small children engage in trantrums  hoping to get something they want. Make sure any adult tantrums result in not only no advantages or gifts, but send them home with less privilege. We used to call that "taking them down a notch or two" because they would have to work hard to regain your good opinion or be let into your fellowship and "good graces."

-Since most rages begin with a rude remark or criticism, you might be able to diffuse it early by thinking, "this person does not have the knowledge, experience and training that I have been blessed with. They are not able to reason in a polite way." When you realize their disadvantage, you will not be able to argue with them. You feel they are like a little child still growing up, having temporary glitches in their maturity.

-These people should be doing something helpful and useful and lasting (such as fixing something or cleaning something) instead of wasting time disturbing someone's equilibrium. Sometimes they get you in a conference where they attempt to go over a long list of points against you. This is a waste of good time. They need to do something useful they will be remembered for, such as repairing a squeaky door or cleaning a room.

I feel I need to mention that all the ladies who have ever brought this subject up usually say their own parents and grandparents and they themselves, never attempted to disturb the home with rudeness.  It was considered a sin against God, and a blight on your soul that you would have to repent of with much agony and tears and great effort to make things right with your brother. It was never a good feeling knowing you had offended God and no one was quick to repeat the offense.

 "Well,"  they say, today,  "What is wrong with that?  There is nothing wrong with venting as long as I apologize and ask for forgiveness!"

Let me remind you of the Lord's warning not to to be so casual with sin just because of His grace is covering it all the time. We are told not to use grace as an excuse.  "My father will pay for it!"  says the careless person.  This is what many preacher's term "crucifying Christ a-fresh," meaning disregarding the supreme sacrifice of Christ and showing disrespect for Him by willfully offending.  (A great study if you ever want to explore this!)

There are many parables, stories, and legends told over the centuries to emphasize the folly of rashness and rudeness.  In short, while you may indeed be able to recover from the pain you inflict on someone, that "someone" will always be cautious around you and never fully trust you again. 

They need to understand the maxim of leaving a bad taste in someone's mouth. It means they will be remembered as sourness and bitterness.

When we were growing up we were shown the illustration of shaking the feathers out an old pillow and challenging the children to gather them all up and put them back in the bag. Of course it was impossible, and that is like rudeness. It is impossible put words back in your mouth once they are let out. 

The home is such a blessed place, and so different than the market and the institutions around us. We cannot have the same atmosphere in the home as those places. They may be free to vent and undercut and demoralize others in the public sphere, but the home has a completely different set of values. At home, we build one another up. We rejoice with those who have success, and we empathize with those who are discouraged.  We help one another with goals and dreams. We protect one another from their own folly. We do not run each other down. We do not shout at elderly people. We do not criticise our parents.  The people in our home are too special and too important to expose them to diatribes and rages.

In such cases as these, there needs to be one person who is not angry. Let that person be you. Watch the other adult as though you were seeing a bad movie and do not let anything they say while they are in "the far country" stick in your mind.

Though this post is far too long, I cannot resist relating a particular incident in my own home when my children were quite young.  We had met another young family and invited them to eat with us in our home. During meatime conversation the subject of history came up, as to how it effects us or if it even is important in our lives today.  The husband and father who was our guest began to shout. He loudly emphasized that history was of no importance, that it did not matter and had no use for anyone today. 

As he was so loud and was not allowing any air space between his comments to enable anyone else to insert their thoughts on the matter, we were unable to participate or make any remarks one way or the other. We had not resisted or disagreed, or shown any argument, and yet he was shouting as though attacking us. I have since noticed other people doing this in conversation, as if to imply we were against them. Then they start arguing against their false perception of us.

 While we might have been agreeable on the subject, we felt a resistance to him because of his rage. He may have been correct on some points, but we did not want to reward him for his rudeness in any way so we were silent. It was very embarrassing for all of us, but I noticed his wife was just shrugging it all off as though it were a normal thing, and she was not sitting in stunned silence or unable to eat, as my family was.  When the meal was over we avoided the usual retiring to the living room because we didn't want them to get too comfortable and perhaps stay the rest of the evening. 

We never again invited them, and when we saw them in public made sure not to linger too long with them.  I am not certain they ever knew how shocked we were or why we were not cultivating a friendship with them. I felt they had done quite enough damage exposing my young family to such rude behavior and was not able at the time to be an influence on them. My duty was to look after my own family and not raise other adults or teach them manners.  I did, however, discuss the man's' behavior with my children to let them know we didn't practice such things in our home.



Christine said...

I've been in situations of uneasiness and just sat quietly.
Silence is golden.

I had a chuckle about about not using your good tea sets but camping tins when having tea as a peace offering!! Very funny.
I also like the phrase, "a wild animal in the far country".

Thank you for this post.

Gigi said...

This is so great. and timely. Thank you. I have quite a few people who are rude and loud in my family. It took me a while to let them back in. If they flare up again, I will show them to the door. I had a friend "blow up" at me - while we tried to make ammends, it never happened. I feel very "burned" by her anger and mean words, and therefore have distanced myself from her. I have tried to rectify the situation but she is still angry. I will not welcome her into our home if she remains such an angry, mean-spirited person. Is that un-Christian?

messy bessy said...

Having been raised in the 70s and 80s, in a loud, exuberant, and argumentative home, I had to learn over many long years and with much blushing, that not everything that occurs to you must be said. And that, furthermore, not everything that you decide you should say must be said with so much vehemence. In my house, no one perceived loud debate as rude, and no one would give up or be silent until completely argued to a standstill.

It took me a long time to realize that there are many thoughts and opinions that are better left unspoken, and that disagreement, even politely stated, can be perceived as aggressive. Now I try to help my children always think: "Is it true? And is it kind?" Just because something may be true (or you may THINK it true) does not mean you should say it unless it also kind. And a kind tone of voice is no guarantee that the thing itself is kind.

The longer I live the more I see how vulnerable people are to words, and how easy it is to wound or alienate, even if the words you speak would not hurt you yourself.

Lydia said...

Very well said! Yes the soft voice does not always guarantee a peaceful response. It all works together--content, intent, inflection, and more.

Paul & Carla said...

Yes, the current (and probably next) generation of crocheters does and probably will make lovely trivets like this. You may not find them in an antique shop, but they're around.

anonymous said...

A very timely post, thank you for sharing. I have had to ask rowdy guests to calm down in the evening after a meal. Having over a certain guest would always end in a quarrel or a playful or physical punching match.
I was so upset at the end of the night that I couldn't sleep and would feel irritable for days after and wanting to avoid this person as much as possible.
Finally I had this person over alone and had a quiet conversation with them about the way we felt after their visit. I asked them politely if they could tone things down a lot. They agreed. Several times I still had to speak to them even in front of others. Things seem to have settled some. Time will tell.

I really liked your coasters, and have a collection of them that I've found at thrift stores, yard sales and antique shops. We always used them for pot holders also. I want to display them in my kitchen someday.

Lynn said...

What an important post!

Mary said...

This is really good. I needed this today.

Polly said...

I have felt that "double burden" you speak of before--wanting to be hospitable, *and* show Christian grace, in the midst of an uncomfortable tirade. It's a challenge, especially when hosting people who really aren't Christians and may judge Christians by our behavior!

Fortunately I've not encountered this often. Just a few times. But it was enough!!

Shani said...

I have been reading this post and rereading it since you posted it. It has taken me a month to finally be able to leave this comment.

This post was such a comfort to me (and continues to be), as we had a Very Unpleasant Incident take place in our home on Easter. I grew up in a home with a screaming mother and unending sarcasm from both parents, and so I have deliberately cultivated a home of peace, rest, and comfort. We have actually had to severely limit our little family's exposure to my parents and brother, as they refuse to acknowledge that their 'normal' isn't welcome the world over. I give this background to emphasize how important it is to me who enters my home. I guard our sanctuary diligently, and have made our little home into the type of place that weary, world-sick friends drop in on, sometimes unexpectedly, to escape their troubles and have a restful cup of tea. Sometimes we chat, sometimes they simply want to sit and, I think, feel protected.

On Easter, we have a habit of inviting those without family to join our family for dinner. This year, we invited an engaged couple we knew and an older woman completely alone in this world (in her mid-60's). All of these people were from our church. The older woman can be a challenge at times, but I held my breath and depended on Good Manners to see us through the day. Imagine the trauma - yes, trauma - that was inflicted on my safe, restful little home when she unleashed her vitriol in an opinion that was directly contrary to the other female guest in our home. The table cleared quickly, with people getting up and walking away before dinner was done. I was shaking. I spoke with the younger woman, and she was angry with me for inviting the older woman and not telling her, as she always suspected the older woman had problems (but had never taken the time to speak with her). The older woman refused to leave right away, and the light-hearted, joyful feel to the day was gone.

Throughout the next week, our little family struggled to get through the trauma of that day. It sounds absolutely ridiculous to state it in such a dramatic way, but there is no other way to put it. We all felt that our home had been violated. The day after Easter, I got an email from the older woman criticising our parenting and stating that we need to expose the whole ugly world to our sons and ourselves instead of shielding us all from it. I prayed, and then wrote her an email that I would no longer be tolerant of her criticisms of us as parents (it wasn't the first time), and that she was very poorly behaved in treating another guest so badly in someone else's home. She didn't appreciate my words of chastisement, and hasn't spoken to me since. I only laid out her actions against us and left it open for an apology and forgiveness, but she chose the other path. I have wondered if I should be more 'tolerant,' but figured if I can hold my own parents to a certain standard I should be able to hold others to the same without regret.

So, Lady Lydia, thank you so very much for these comforting words. And I have an etiquette question for you that has niggled in the back of my mind: Am I wrong to not have told each guest who else was invited? I didn't realize people expected that. I've certainly never been given that information when invited to others' homes. One is expected to behave oneself no matter who the other guests are, and if one doesn't like the other guests, then one leaves as soon as is polite. Is that not correct?

Thank you for your time, and I'm sorry I wrote an entire blog post as a comment. This has been weighing on my mind for a long time.