"I criticise, whinge, and bicker to my heart's content"
Days before lock-down was announced across the UK, my university course moved all its teaching online for the foreseeable future, and most of my peers (including me) chose to go and wait things out in a magical place where their laundry gets done for them - their parents' homes.
Being at home is generally quite lovely - I moved out 5 years ago, so being back with my family feels more like a novelty than normal life, and now that my brothers and I have left adolescence behind, we get on pretty well. There's just about enough space, we have a garden (and a cat), and all of us have various things to occupy our time and avoid going totally bonkers with boredom. I'm aware that for many people, including many of my friends and peers, moving in with family is stressful and difficult, and I’m incredibly grateful that for me, it’s been neither (mostly).
But there are still challenges. With my family - these people who know me very well and love me very much - I know I don't have to try to be nice to win them over. And so, I don't try. I criticise, whinge, and bicker to my heart's content. I moan when people do things differently to how I would do them - surely you must see that my way is CLEARLY the best way?! Even if I don't voice my opinions (which are right, always, even if there is clear evidence that they are wrong), I still moan to myself.
It's been a running theme whenever I catch up with friends who have moved back in with family - we often talk about how we seem to be regressing to our bratty teenage selves, how those that we love the most can bring out the worst in us.
But I don't think that's actually true. Or at least, I don't think my family have some bizarre ability to transform me into a worse version of myself. Instead, I've found that being at home makes me more aware of my true colours. The Bible has a word for that bratty-ness, that desire in each of us to do it our way even when it hurts others. It calls it sin. It's serious stuff. And it’s not just a behaviour issue, it’s a heart condition.
As of this year, it’s been a decade since I chose to become a follower of Jesus Christ, to accept his free gift of forgiveness for my sins. I know that my identity is found in God, that he accepts me as a dearly loved daughter. Over time, his amazing love can seem almost normal. It can be easy to forget that I have a serious “heart condition”, that my sin is the very reason I needed Jesus to die on the cross for me.
And so, even the difficult parts of moving back home have been a blessing. When I criticise and complain, I’m reminded that I am a sinner who needs her Saviour. When I struggle to be patient, I’m reminded that God is patient with me. When I apologise to my family (something I need to do more), I’m reminded that God has forgiven me, even though I don’t deserve it. When I’m frustrated by how hard it is to improve myself and be nicer, I’m reminded that God doesn’t expect me to fix myself, and that his Spirit is working in me to grow me in grace. Sometimes, those reminders have been hard to receive. But they are so needed, and so precious.