Sunday, April 6, 2014

When Peace is (Slightly) Lost

"live peaceably"
Romans 12:18

I had a bit of disagreement with my lovely daughter the other day.  Very little.  Well, brief, but loud.

We were on a field trip, and got (slightly) lost.  Really more frustrated than lost, because the road was under construction, and now we had to go back through it, and make u-turns, and left turns, and it was not going to be efficient, and we were hungry!

My daughter had the Garmin, and I had the directions, which had lied to us and were now useless.  But I also had a slight familiarity with the area, and enough experience with being (slightly) lost to have an idea of how to solve the problem.  So we were on fairly even footing.

But we were both frustrated and confused (and did I mention hungry?)  And then she said, "Calm down, Mom," which made me even uncalmer.

Now, I should tell you that most of the time, when my girl says, "Calm down, Mom," I do.  And she does, when I say it to her.  We recognize each other's moods, and know each other's "buttons" and can generally bring perspective to one another in the midst of emotion.

But in this case, I knew she was just as frustrated as I was.  The only difference was that my frustration is generally louder than hers.  So when she said, "Calm down, Mom," I said something like, "You calm down!  Why do I have to calm down when you're no calmer than I am??"

And then of course I apologized, and she apologized, and we both calmed down.  Which was best for everyone.  But later that day, and for the next couple of days, I kept wondering the same thing.  Why was she telling me to calm down?  She had to recognize that she was uptight, too.  Why tell me to relax?

In retrospect, I think that it wasn't that she was scolding me, per se.  I don't think she was telling me; I think she was asking me.  I think, knowing her, it wasn't advice, it was what she needed from me.  I set the tone, being the mom, and my frustration was making her worse.  I'm not sure she knew it consciously, but whether she did or not, my calming down would be the first step to her calming down.

Romans 12:18 says "As much as is possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men."  I love that verse.  It acknowledges that sometimes it's out of our control; that we can't always be at peace with others.  In a way that takes the pressure off.  But at the same time, it tells us that we do have some responsibility.  We can have some impact on those around us.  And my sweet girl's frustration level rising, was an indicator that I wasn't doing all I could to keep peace in the car.  That's what she communicated to me, though it took me a minute to respond appropriately.

Peace is never really that far away.  God wants that for us.  My girl and I both wanted it, and needed it.  I was a little slow to do my part in her peace, but it wasn't far away.

~ "I will give peace and quietness" ~
1 Chronicles 22:9

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