The bickering and squabbling are to be expected; we do spend an exorbitant amount of time together. But being a referee can be really exhausting, especially when the earth shattering issues draining me of my energy involve absurdities such as who copied whom, and whose turn it is to have milk poured first in their cereal bowl. These small family tiffs are usually resolved quickly without too much backlash, but there have been a few that have made me sick to my stomach. I have looked on in horror while my children worked themselves up into a frantic, hateful tizzy, turning on each other with cold detachment. “Stop it!” I cried, less like a firm disciplinarian, and more like a victim of violence whose heart has being cruelly ripped from her chest, still pulsating with love and disappointment.
Being so utterly and sometimes maddeningly devoted to the four distinctive souls stitched with purpose in my belly, I am as vulnerable as they are to the insults tossed back and forth between them out of anger. In those rare instances when their enormous eyes glaze over with resentment and their clenched fists aim like loaded pistols, I am as much a target of that wrath, even if unintentionally, as the child who broke the favored toy or swallowed the last piece of Halloween candy without permission. Because they are a part of me and because I adore this family with every fiber of my being, my greatest hope is that they would in turn love and adore each other, that the role of “brother” and “sister” would be recognized as sacred and worthy of defending at any price.
Is it any wonder then that my own merciless contempt for the cruel, the vulgar, the demanding, and the outspoken, whose opinions differ vastly from my own, has been called out as inappropriate? Is it all that strange that even when these thoughts fester quietly in my own mind, a mind glazed over with resentment, they are still offensive to Him who did the intricate stitching with equal portions of hope and adoration for each new life begun? Wouldn’t any father desire for his children to rise above the impulsivity, in acknowledgement of their sacred ties to one another? Wouldn’t any parent take delight in sons and daughters making peace?
In this world so crippled by fury, where neighbor is pitted against neighbor on every issue known to man, could there be a more profound opportunity to open the shades drawn tightly in disgust, and let light pour in upon the darkness? To cross the lines dividing a nation, armed only with kindness, respect, and prayerful persistence, reaching out to the lives behind the controversies, is to cross the barriers of hell itself with triumph and holy defiance. Few are converted by icy accusations. It is the unwavering convictions of those who have found and offer peace, that are capable of bringing hatred to its knees. None of us can manufacture such hell defying love using only our own corruptible resources; it is Christ’s perfect love rushing through us, unencumbered, that will warm our brothers and sisters with healing grace.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God.” Blessed are they who do not let contemptuous thoughts soil a heart where Christ, Himself, abides. Blessed are they who neither seek out confrontation nor timidly avoid it, but who wait on the Spirit for wisdom and courage prior to the correction of a misunderstanding. Blessed are they who wait ten seconds before responding. “Acquire the Spirit of Peace and thousands of souls around you will be saved,” said St. Seraphim of Sarov. Blessed are they who legitimize God’s love through sincerity, consistency, and self control.
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