In Chinese family, or at least a simple way of saying family for beginner learners, is 家人 (jiaren). As a new Chinese learner I loved learning this word because it’s a mix of the word home 家 and people 人. Later I was told Chinese doesn’t work this way and you can’t always separate the characters like this expecting a deeper meaning, but I still like the idea of your family being your home people.
I bring this up because I realized that I make this distinction between those in my home (or metaphorical home) and those outside of my home. Those outside of my home get the overly polite me who is trying to avoid confrontation, or who tries her best to have civilized polite debates.
Those in my home get the real me… and the real me can be pretty blunt and harsh.
C’s Bible study had us memorizing Proverbs 15:1, a gentle answer turns away wrath. I immediately started applying it in my head to debates on social media or when talking with customer service reps etc. It took a lot longer for me to realize it applies to my people at home too.
I have every excuse in the book for being unpleasant at home. I’m exhausted, I’m lonely, I just need a place where I can be myself etc, but really they are just excuses not to try and be better. Yes, family are the people you can be yourself around, but do you really want yourself to be a blunt, rude, downright harsh individual?
The Bible tells us, “Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 16:24 NLT
Kind words are good for the soul! They don’t just turn away wrath, they are good for the body. We are told that as a new creation we should clothe ourselves in kindness:
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
We are told to live a life that shows others what we believe:
“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NLT
I always thought about this is an outside of my home command, but all that changes with a kid. I now have someone in my home who I want to lead to Christ. Someone who is watching me all the time and who mimics my behaviors. Suddenly I’ve realized that I don’t want who I am to change around family in the sense that I feel I can set aside kindness. When I type kindness into the search engine of my Bible app I find that it’s often used to describe Jesus. Isn’t that who I’m supposed to try and imitate?
I’m teaching C that a gentle word turns away wrath. In order for him to really learn this I have to practice this at home as much as I try to practice it with strangers.