We’ve now entered that stage of parenthood when they begin to question. And test. And try. And squabble.
It’s the last one that tests every bit of patience I might ever claim to have. I told them today that it hurts my heart when they argue and say unkind words to each other. They looked surprised. Even bewildered. We cause our mother’s heart to hurt? I didn’t try to make them feel better about that. I wanted them to get the point: their disagreements cause chaos in our home.
God graced me with a bit of wisdom for the moment. I made them sit on the couch quietly, while I put the baby to bed and collected my Bible. I told them that I could yell at them, scold them, discipline them, punish them, make them apologize…but I wasn’t going to do that any more. They looked at each other in confusion. I know they were wondering how they had managed to get out of trouble so quickly. I went on to explain that it was time for them to decide if they were really going to live for Jesus. “Are you?” I asked. They both quickly said yes. “No, think about this carefully, because if you want to live for Jesus, if you want to be like Him and let other people see Jesus in your life, then you will have to conform to the words in this book,” I explained, holding up my Bible. They nodded their heads.
1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
They were very quiet. Thinking, I believe, about what that passage meant. I unpacked the verses for them, showing them that the same Holy Spirit that dwells inside of each person who believes in Christ is the same. And that same Holy Spirit is drawing believers together, knitting them together. He asks us to forgive, to lay down our pride, our own goals and ideals, to believe the best about each other, to LOVE each other as Christ loves us. I explained that their guiding question when conflict arises is this: Am I working as hard as I possibly can to get along with my sister? It isn’t about right or wrong, but about being like Him. He’s always right and if we are following after Him, we’ll be right (as in righteous), too.
They spontaneously hugged each other. And it was a long, affectionate, loving hug. Probably the first one they’ve enjoyed that hasn’t been prompted by a parent. That made my heart sing. Then, they asked if they could do the dishes. I think they were trying to make it up to me. I didn’t stop them. It’s good for good works to follow a deeper understanding of the Word…and good for a tired mama to enjoy the sound of her girls washing away the grime of a battle-filled day.
So, where are we, dear Reader? Are we working as hard as we can to get along with our brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we? Are we striving to keep the bonds of unity and peace? Are we?
It isn’t about getting our own way. It’s about Him having His way in us. About letting go and trusting the seen with the unseen. We’ve known those who feud and battle their way through the body, leaving carnage in their wake. We’ve seen people just walk away from fellowship because things didn’t suit their taste, they didn’t feel heard, they wanted their own way. Truth be told: we are like them sometimes. Maybe more often than we want to admit. We want to separate ourselves, distinguish ourselves as “right, ” “correct,” “justified.” In those moments, we aren’t striving to keep the peace of Christ or the bonds of unity through the Holy Spirit. We aren’t willing to lay down our very lives for the cause of Christ.
But, we need to do that very thing. Lay down our lives…over and over and over and over. Trust Him. Obey Him. Represent Him well. The world is watching and they really do know that we love Him…when we love each other.
Father God, Help me to love my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me to lay down my own ideas about they way things should be, in deference to love. Change my heart, Oh God. Help me to see others the way you do and to love, love, love, love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.