Pebbles of stress become buckets of frustration when family stress together

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A man drives home at the end of the day. A few blocks from home, a driver cuts him off. The man picks up a pebble and puts it in his bucket.

A woman arrives home, after working all day, to find the kitchen has been left messy from the morning. The woman picks up a pebble and puts it in her bucket.

The man enters the house. With his adrenaline still high, he immediately unleashes a tirade about lousy drivers to the woman. He drops his pebble into the woman’s bucket. Now she has two. But, as these are magic pebbles, it also remains in his bucket.

The woman, wishing the man would have cleaned up a little better before he left in the morning, makes a strong statement about the man’s laziness. She dumps her two pebbles into the man’s bucket. He now has three pebbles. Because they’re magic, she still has two.

The man, noticing that half of the dirty dishes were the woman’s, makes the snide comment that if she had wanted the kitchen clean she should have loaded her own dishes into the dishwasher. He dumps his three pebbles into her bucket. Man 3: Woman 5.

The woman, sorting the mail, finds a mysterious bill. Her response is a quick stab at the man for his spending habits. 5 pebbles are given to the man. Woman 5: Man 8.

The man, angered by the accusation, digs up that the woman had spent the last two weekends shopping with her friends. 8 pebbles are returned to the woman. Man 8:; Woman 13.

Stress, in family structures, is like these magic pebbles. When individuals act on their stress, it inevitably is added directly to the other members of the family. That stress mixes with other stresses and comes back to the first person.

This is how little things become big things. This is how bad driving habits of others trigger disagreements. This is how dirty dishes kickoff shouting matches. This is how a toilet seat up or down becomes the igniter of great disputes.

Little stresses become big stress because family structures share their stress in this bucket sharing cycle. That’s how little pebbles of stress become buckets of frustration in family relationships.

The solution is to be the one to brake the stress sharing. Jesus did just this when instead of taking his vengeance—demanding his right as the heir of Kingdom of God–he took the wrath of God instead. The cycle is broken. There is no need to share the bucket of sin any more.

The solution is to lean on Jesus with your stress when the bucket sharing begins. It means being forgiving as others present you with their pebbles. It doesn’t mean avoiding problems. In families, we still need to share our concerns, talk about our day, and point out over expenditure or forgotten chores, but we can do that with the grace that comes through the Holy Spirit. We can do it without sharing our buckets in return because Christ takes our bucket for us.

Families can be in the business of stress sharing, or they can be in the business of grace sharing. The change of business model begins with one person beginning to practice grace. This may feel like losing the argument, but it will likely save you a whole bucket-load of stress later on.

If you find your family is caught in the habit of sharing pebbles of stress, you may consider family coaching. Coaches can help you to learn strategies for breaking the cycle. Contact Etchea Coaching today by completing the form below.

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