For the last 6 months we have had a friend living with us and this next week she will be moving out. To be honest, we are a little excited. We will get to walk around in our underwear, we will get some space back in our fridge, we will…well that is all I can really think of because it has been something we have really enjoyed.
When most people find out we have someone living with us they usually say something like, “I’m sorry.” As though we had been taken hostage in our own home and had no choice. In reality it has been a great experience (at least for our family) and the greatest value was the one it will leave on our children.
Granted our youngest (Tucker, 1.5) will probably not remember that much, but our oldest (Kennedy, 4.5) will definitely remember the experience. Overall, we didn’t think through the benefits for our children before we asked our friend to move in, but through the experience there have been some nuggets. Below are some of the highlights from the experience related to our children:
1. Sacrifice: We moved our children into the same room and our friend moved into our daughters room. Looking back we see the benefit of our daughter seeing that “her room” is something she learned to hold with an open hand. She handled the experience great and I hope she saw a tangible example of sacrificing for others.
2. Flexibility: When ever you have others living with you there has to be some measure of flexibility and when we live in a time where it seems like everything is about the children we enjoyed seeing our children learn flexibility on a practical level.
3. Giving: It hasn’t really cost us that much financially, but our children got to see their parents serving, sacrificing, and giving to someone else and they saw it on a daily basis.
4. Healthy Relationships: Often times children can be so heavily protected from others, which is smart, however, our children had the opportunity to see an example of healthy relationships outside of the family. This is something I constantly reflect on because I want my children to be wise, careful, and aware, but I don’t want them be sheltered. That is a difficult balance to find, but if that learning process can take place in our home at a young age it is something that will move us in the right direction.
5. Gospel: The power of the gospel is that it takes people who are living in shame, guilt, and anger and restores those relationships with others, self, and Jesus. Not because of what we do, but because of what Jesus does on the cross through His death, burial, and resurrection we experience reconciliation. That is a message that rings out to the entire world and has radically changed our family. It is powerful to read about, but our family got to experience that reconciliation on a personal level and in a tangible way.
In the end, these lessons could have been learned through a number of different avenues and even read about it in some books, however, they got to experience these lessons on a personal level in their own little world.