All I want is peace and happiness
I was reading a devotion the other day about love. Shocker that the verse that is associated with the devotion was:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
I live in a house with two teenage girls, a son and a husband who all have opinions on life and how it should be lived. We coexist with each other pretty well for the most part, but there are definitely times when I would love to maintain the peace. I have been told to “pick my battles” and I do for the most part, but when I choose to remain silent when I should speak up isn’t showing love to my family. This could be as simple as talking to one of the girls about a post they put up on Instagram and how they don’t see it as offensive but I do. It could be bringing up the “raw topic” of not getting the allowance for a week because the chores were not getting done. It could be about what to do with the tithe money when one of the girls wants to take a break from church for a bit. Some topics are simple and are mentioned once and then done. Others not so much, they turn into conversations that will last a long time because they are important ones about life. If I chose to not speak up about these different topics I would then be saying that I will tolerate what is happening and thus let them know that I think it’s ok. That would not be love.
The more and more I live in this world, the more and more I see that there is a lack of love. Not the gushy, sloppy love that is portrayed everywhere but the love that is patient, is kind, is not easily angered or self seeking. This is not easy. We get upset when someone cuts us off while on the way to work, we get even more upset when we try and have a conversation and get interrupted constantly. We get upset when our best laid plans go up in smoke just because someone announces they are going against the grain. I am not saying that we shouldn’t get upset, sometimes that needs to happen. Jesus had cause to get upset on multiple occasions, and when he did they were not temper tantrum fits. Jesus was very patient with those he met, he talked with people with love, and acceptance. Even when those same people were causing Him harm, he didn’t lash out but he did fight for them with prayer.
James 1:19-20 says this: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires
James was talking to the twelve tribes that had been scattered among the nations. He was having to encourage and teach people that were in the world about what it will mean to be Christians and to have people mock and ridicule them. How closely this resembles our world today. Peace and happiness are properties to strive for, so are honesty and humbleness. A friend of mine that I worked with years ago saw I was getting upset with a client on the phone. The client wasn’t being the nicest of people and she was demanding that I take care the problem right then and there. I was getting frustrated with her as well as the person who had told her the wrong information that had caused the problem in the first place. So I put her on hold. I proceeded to go into the back treatment area to rant and let off some steam. My friend heard me and asked how she could help. I told her the situation, she listened and then said “here let me handle it”. I was curious to see how she would handle this client so I followed her back up to the reception desk. I was amazed! My friend got on the phone, and in a very quiet and calm voice she started talking to the lady. My friend had to repeat herself a couple of times, but that was only because she kept talking in a quiet and calm voice and the lady on the other end couldn’t hear her because she wasn’t expecting to have to “listen”. Even before the phone call was over I realized that I had the same problem the lady on the other end had, I didn’t think I had to “listen”. My friend calmed the lady down by being calm and listening. I learned that day, that most of the time when people are upset it’s because they feel like they are not being heard. I had gone into the conversation with the lady already geared up for a fight. I didn’t show humbleness, I was not patient, and I definitely had a list of wrongs I was sure this lady had. I didn’t go in with love at all.
Peace and happiness are only good if they are pure and true. If problems are ignored and conversations don’t happen just because you don’t want to upset the balance of peace and happiness, then what you have is not real. Sadly you will not be liked all of the time, this is hard for me to say because I don’t like having people think badly of me, but over the years I have learned that people are not the end all. God is. That is where the joy is found. I have had to have hard discussions with people, I have disagreed with choices being made, but I also realize I am far from perfect. If something needs to be said or done, I have to go and say it/do it with love and humbleness, and instead of fighting battles with harsh words and deeds, I need to fight them on my knees in prayer. Until next time:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:22-24