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My husband Jim Bob always says jokingly that around our house about every 30 minutes there's some kind of a crisis that takes place -- we have to stop and drop whatever it is we're right in the middle of, whether someone got hurt or something in the house broke and there's water everywhere. You never know in a house with 19 kids.
Life at home isn't like at the office where you have a strict schedule. When you stay at home raising your children you have to be flexible. The way I think about it is flexibility versus resistance, because sometimes when there's not flexibility we have a resistant attitude about everything. You're like, "I can't believe this is happening." And that's not a good response.
Our children watch and they see how we respond to situations that arise. So we sure don't want to have them picking up on a resistant attitude. The definition of flexibility that I love is not becoming attached to ideas or plans that could be changed by God or others. It could be as serious as a tornado that occurs, one of those acts of God that you can't change, or our child may have a minor crisis -- they didn't make it to the potty on time and they're potty trained, and you have to stop what you're doing and clean up a mess or else you'll have a mess all over the house if you don't.
I think when you have the right response to things like that that happen throughout the day -- and around here it's frequent because there's so many of us and so much going on that you're going to have what you might call "interruptions" -- these are really what I consider opportunities to demonstrate a right response.
Another quality that goes right along with flexibility is patience; because there's absolutely no way you can have flexibility without patience. And I think patience is something none of us probably really want to have to learn because you have to go through a lot of the tough things in life to learn it. And you really have to come up against some of these difficult situations before you can truly learn what true patience is.
To me the opposite of patience is restlessness. And the only way to deal with that is to accept a difficult situation from God without giving him a deadline to remove it. I'll say to my kids, "I realize you're feeling very irritated and frustrated right now, and I know what you're going through because I've been there before, but getting all upset and angry and bent out of shape does not help the situation at all. You need to really just give it up, literally, to God, and give in and let him decide when he's going to remove this situation from your life."
God is less concerned about removing a difficult situation than he is with us being open to him about building character in response to a situation. We all struggle with this, and it's like, "You know what? If you don't learn it this time don't worry, shortly around the corner you're going to get an opportunity to learn it again." It will come right back again because patience and flexibility are two things that are so important in life to learn.
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