Have you checked the atmosphere of your home lately? I’m not talking about physical temperature or humidity. I want you to step back and see what kind of atmosphere you are creating in your home. Is it an atmosphere of love, safety and kindness or is it an atmosphere of anxiety, fear and disconnection? Atmosphere is the pervading tone or mood of a place. You’ve noticed the atmosphere of a place before. Walking into someone else’s house, you can tell if it is a place of peace or unrest. Remember, peace does not mean perfection. It’s the tone or mood of a place.
A stressed out maxed out mom creates an atmosphere of anxiety and fear which causes disconnection within the family instead of connection. In Proverbs 14:1 it says “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.” The word “builds” used in this passage translates from the original Hebrew word banah which means “to cause to flourish”. A household is either thriving, surviving or dying. It’s either being built up, barely floating or it’s being torn down. A wise and godly woman makes her home a place of security, comfort, peace and joy; while a foolish and irresponsible woman neglects her home and family. The wise woman creates a safe place. Is your home a safe place? The foolish woman’s home is not safe, there is little comfort and there is no peace or joy.
It’s heart breaking to watch moms tear down the homes that they worked to build. I’m sure they never started the journey thinking that they would sabotage what they labored to create. So how does a mom go from building up to tearing down? The answer is found in Romans 8:6, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” When our gaze is shifted from God, and begins to focus on our flesh, we start tearing down. This is evident through our thoughts, words and actions.
The Bible clearly tells us what guards our hearts and mind. Philippians 4:4-9 gives us the prescription for building the things required to cause our homes to flourish.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
1. Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS.
2. Let your reasonableness (gentleness) be known to everyone.
3. Do not be anxious about anything
4. Pray about everything and be thankful
5. Choose what you think about and focus on
When you do these things it says the PEACE of God that no one will understand, will GUARD your MIND and your HEART.
Let’s flip the script and look at how a woman tears down her home:
1. Always complaining and finding fault. Just plain ole’ negative.
2. Unreasonable, angry and harsh. Short-tempered.
3. Anxious about everything, always worrying.
4. Never praying and always talking. Doesn’t feel thankful.
5. Chooses to think and focus on everything that is wrong instead of what is right and good.
There is no way we can operate in the 5 things listed for building up without the power of the Holy Spirit. The flesh cannot and does not operate in those things. But, if you’re like me and find yourself or have found yourself slipping into the habits of the flesh listed how a woman tears down her home, there is HOPE!! We can reset and repent. We can choose to be led by the Spirit of God and cause our homes to flourish. I don’t know about you, but I NEED my heart and mind guarded by God’s peace. Motherhood is hard. I need guarded from the arrows of difficult seasons and the crushing blows of living in a fallen world.
We know when we fall into the pit of complaining, being negative, angry and focusing on the wrong, are the times we are not staying connected to God. We aren’t praying, we aren’t spending time in his presence being filled and fueled for our purpose and calling to our families. It would be completely understandable if our moods matched our messes. That’s how the world operates. But, the peace that passes all understanding, makes no sense. That means, I can walk through the biggest of messes, the craziest of conflicts and my mood won’t match what I’m walking through because my mind and my heart are guarded. His peace is my peace and it doesn’t make sense. That will cause people to notice and question your hope. Peter said in 1 Peter 3:15 to be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason for the hope that you have.
Let’s walk through some examples of how this plays out and how we can choose to change our responses. We can choose to build and not tear down. Many times these things become habits in our lives. We automatically say and do things without thinking first. Transformation takes place through renewing the mind. We have to make deliberate choices. The atmosphere of our home is the result of our choices. In order to change the atmosphere, we have to change our choices.
1. Rejoice always: Cultivate joy. Praise the Lord! Play praise and worship music and sing loud. The Bible mentions a sacrifice of praise. Sometimes, our praise is a sacrifice. We don’t feel it, but we have to reach deep within us and exchange our pain, sadness and disappointment for the joy of the Lord. Praise removes the focus from our circumstances and places our focus on God. When we praise, it postures our heart into a place of humility and leaves no room for complaining or negativity. Psalm 103:1 “Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Sometimes you have to tell yourself to BLESS THE LORD. All that is within me will bess the Lord! Those are the moments when the enemy would love for your lips to come into agreement with him and complain, accuse, find fault and wallow in negativity.
2. Let your reasonableness (gentleness) be known to everyone: This one may sting a little. I know. How many times do we walk in hypocrisy by treating outsiders better than we treat our insiders, our family? What about when the kids would rather stay in public because they get nice mommy, but as soon as they go home, nice mommy goes away and they get mean mommy. I was shopping in a clothing store and saw a little boy about 6 years old with his mother. He was behaving fine, but his mother wanted a stiff robot who wouldn’t move. I looked over as she grabbed him by the jacket collar , trying to hid the fact that she was pinching his ear and in the deepest harshest voice that could come from her mouth, she said, “Don’t you try me in this store, you understand! “ The boy was wide eyed staring at his mom confused because he hadn’t misbehaved. Then as she turned the corner of the rack, she saw Sister Opal from her church. I laughed in my head as she slid her arm from pulling his ear and jacket collar to around his shoulder in a loving side hug. “Hi Sister Opal! How are you?” That mom knew her behavior was wrong, she wouldn’t have tried to hide it from Sister Opal if she didn’t. She began speaking in such a soft lovely voice to her son and Sister Opal. A vast contrast to the harsh bass voice that she has just used to address her son. This is a prime example of how we show reasonableness to those on the outside, but those on the inside get our unreasonableness.
Here is a good way to change your perspective and catch yourself when to are tempted to be angry, short-tempered and harsh. Think about how you connect and communicate with your family versus your friends or other adults. How would your girlfriends respond if you spoke to them the way you speak to your children? What about if you treated them the way you treated your children in those moments of unreasonableness? I would be willing to guess that some of us would not have those girlfriends for very long, they would not be willing to endure our unkindness, harshness and anger. I know if one of my girlfriends grabbed me by the jacket collar and pinched my ear while speaking very harshly, they wouldn’t be one of my girlfriends very long. There is a deception in the church where people believe they get a free pass for sin in their homes. God sees all and knows all, just because it’s behind a closed door doesn’t mean he doesn’t see and know. I have seen and listened to church kids come to my home and talk about how they are treated at home versus the pretty facade that’s displayed on social media and in public. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Where there is instability, there is fear and anxiety. Let your reasonableness, your gentleness be known to ALL, including your children.
3. Do not be anxious about anything: This one is hard if you have experienced past trauma which we will discuss in another chapter. This verse prefaces do not be anxious with THE LORD IS AT HAND. In other words, he is with you! Ultimately, anxiety spoken about in this verse deals with being distracted with worry in a negative sense, like a lack of trust. Trust is hard for some people especially those who have been through past trauma and adverse childhood experiences. But, this clearly talks about choosing to trust God by praying and talking to him about everything that concerns you. Let all your requests be made known. That means that there is nothing too small or too big for you to talk to God about. When we make our requests known to God through prayer with thanksgiving, it opens the door for him to move on our behalf. The next time you catch yourself worrying about something you have already prayed about, pray some more. Worry is a distraction that never accomplishes anything.
4. Pray about everything and be thankful: There is a difference between talking & texting about your problems and praying about them. I crack up when I see status prayers on social media. Sure, God sees what you typed, but, is it more for people to see what your feeling and going through than it is a sincere prayer to God? How can we know the heart and character of God if we never speak to him? Prayer changes things. It changes our circumstances and it changes us when our circumstances don’t change. Prayer is the oxygen of the life surrendered to God. Acts 17:28 says, “In him we live, move and have our being.” That’s where I want to be and stay, in him. We can pray giving thanks for what he has already done and what he is about to do. Think about your kids, how sweet Is it when they say , Thank you mommy for _________.” Fill in the blank. Praying about everything keeps us in a dependent place with God, instead of making decisions that put us in the position of God. Many times we put ourselves on the throne of our heart and don’t even realize that we are operating in the flesh. Prayer keeps us connected. Prayerlessness will keep us disconnected and unthankful. Instead of being thankful we become entitled.
5. Choose what you think about and focus on: I have walked through some very dark seasons of hurt, pain and rejection. Those seasons were specifically challenging for me for this reason. Choosing what I thought about was challenging. It was so easy to default to thinking about everything that was wrong and negative. I would focus on things I didn’t have or things I had lost instead of thinking on things that were good or things I did have. It’s hard to be grateful when you are stuck in the negative. Your thoughts are powerful and turn into words and actions. In order for our heart and mind to be guarded by the peace of God that no one will understand, it requires us to choose our thoughts. We have to focus on things that are true, honorable, pure, just, lovely, anything worthy of praise. In order to think on things that are true, we have to reject the lies of the enemy. In order to reject lies, we have to be able to identify what is a lie and what is truth. Thinking on things worthy of praise means we will have to search for the gold sometimes. We get to be a detective and find the goodness and honorable thing to focus on. It’s all about perception and perspective. Perception is how we see things and perspective is how you think about things. If your perception is muddled, then your perspective will always be off.