Life is messy. We all know it. It is inconsistent and contradictory. It can be smooth sailing one minute and topsy turvy the next. The only constant we can rely on in this world is change. Change often brings conflict and stress. That is why it is so important that when two unique souls come together in a relationship they set boundaries and expectations and have a clear vision for their relationship together as a team. Having cohesive boundaries and explicit expectations within any familial relationship are paramount to maintaining the mental and emotional health of each of its members. It is the only way that they will be able to weather the storms life throws their way.
My spice and I are such firm believers in the messiness of life that we chose it as our family motto, vita est nuntius (“Life is messy”). We didn’t chose this motto from a stance of fear or as a warning, per se; rather we proclaim life’s messiness as a rallying cry for our family to be always prepared. To know that we are always and forever on the same team. We want to live fully, facing Life head on; and we want our children to be brave when facing the messiness of living full and daring lives. Perhaps this decision to see our family as a team, as a unit, a clan (we are Clan Allen, after all), stemmed from my spice’s military experience as a Marine. He knows firsthand the importance of the semper fidelis.
When my children were young, I would tell them every time they left our home that they were entering the “mission field” as a reminder that they would face challenges to their faith, their beliefs, and their world as they new it — certainly not to instill fear, but to nurture their emotional and mental foundation, knowing that home, The Home Clan Allen Builds, is always their fortress of refuge and strength. Home is always the one place they can come to be loved and embraced fully for who they are.
Three of Clan Allen’s explicit expectations are that: (1) we are a team and stand together protecting our family from anyone or anything that might break up our unity, (2) we are to live to the best of our ability, and with God’s merciful help, Ephesians 4:31-32: “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,” [which I’ll admit is often much easier quoted than done!]; and (3) only one of us gets to be “crazy” at a time. Again I’ll admit, this is easier said than done — especially when we had three teenagers in the home at the same time. Alas…
Of course it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Clan Allen. In our messy lives together, we’ve often had to remind one another, and especially our children, that Hey, we are on the same team here. Of course because life is messy, many boundaries have been crossed and expectations haven’t always been met, but having them in place has been the cornerstone of our family’s sanity. What boundaries and expectations have you and your partner, your teammate in Life, set for your familial relationships?