Do you ever feel like pursuing peace would just take too much time? Like you don’t have time for peace?

> I don’t have time for a diplomatic response – it’s quicker to be direct (blunt), even if that might hurt someone’s feelings – they should just get over it.

> I don’t have time to solve this problem right now. I am in the middle of ____ so I will just a) ignore it, or b) silence it by exerting my authority, or c) yell and hope everyone else shuts up and gets scared away so I can get back to my own little world.

> I have too much going on, too many distractions, too many expectations placed upon me to stop and deal with this unrest going on inside. If I try to stop and center in on God’s move and God’s Word, or to try to seek God about what is going on, I’ll just fall apart. I don’t have time to fall apart. So I’ll just distract myself a little more so I don’t have to deal with what’s really keeping me from being at peace in my heart.

Do any of these seem familiar in your life? Unfortunately, all of them are somewhat familiar in my own life. I write an email, it scenario A. I’m making dinner and the kids fight, it’s scenario B. At any time it could be scenario C, because honestly – is there ever a time I don’t have something happening? But if I don’t MAKE TIME to sit with Jesus and open my heart to Him and His Word, everything else will fall apart.

We are on week 3 of our church Month of Dedication – as we’ve set aside time in this month before Easter to think a little bit about what it means to live at peace in a decidedly unpeaceful world, and how Jesus came to bring us peace as we are reconciled to the Father and redeemed for His purposes in our lives. [You can download the free eBook PDF here.]

My plan was to blog through a couple times a week, but then my kids’ spring break hit, which translated to zero hours to myself, unless you count early morning or late at night, and frankly, my brain doesn’t work very well in those hours, so trying to share any thoughts from those moments probably wouldn’t have benefitted anyone! But we have continued to follow along in the booklet as a family, as planned — my husband and I, and my 7 and 10-year-old kids. We have also used the booklet as the basis for our home group discussions during this time.

One thing I have learned, besides the great insights in the booklet itself, is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Doing this family devotion together hasn’t automatically made us get along better. My kids still fight. We all still tend toward selfishness and want shortcuts, even at another’s expense. We all still seek what we need in negative ways because we don’t know how to ask for it in positive ways. But if we are faithful in the little steps, steadfastly pursuing a course of action, small changes do take place that move us toward healthier outcomes.

A few examples:

  1. We have developed a common language of peace. This book was written for adults, so in doing it with my kids, I have to translate as I go – to bring it to their level. But now, when my kids fight, we have a shared language – a shared experience of learning together that can be a foundation toward positive changes.
  2. In doing this with them, I am more intentional to my responses toward their bickering. Instead of the not-so-lovely-but-quicker scenario B I described above, one day last week I just stood before them, said “move away from the table and do as I do.” They stood up, moved into a clear space, and we did breathing exercises together! Then I pressed my hands together and prayed out loud a prayer of repentance for my own impatience, and times I have acted in anger. I asked God to help me to be more peaceful in the future. I led them through a process of praying their own prayers, talking about how we can’t change anyone else, so complaining and blaming is useless. Unless I can accept responsibility for my own actions and my own part in the conflict (be it inaction, impatience, anger, mistakes, or not dealing with my hurt but allowing it to spill out as aggression), I can never be at peace within myself, and I can never work toward peace with others.
  3. Again, scenario B, instead of yelling and sending them to their rooms I sat down with the kids. We held hands. We talked. We forgave. We prayed together. And I said, “We’re all hungry right? And that is making us cranky. Me included. But if I have to stop making dinner to break up your fights, it’s just going to take us longer to get to where we all want to be, which is eating, so can we please work together and try not to fight? Can you please stop asking other things and telling me what the other one is doing wrong so I can finish making dinner and we can stop being cranky?”

Making the peaceful choice often does take time – because usually what will bring peace requires some action. It requires a little extra effort of me. Teamwork involves training. Often I want everyone to just go away so I can fix it myself. I will make it, I will clean it, I will plan it and do it. In the moment, that might seem like the quickest way. But in the long run, that strategy leaves me lonely and over-worked. Bringing someone else into the process – teaching them skills – is more work for the moment. But it means less work and more enjoyment of being and doing together in the long run. To teach is to empower – not just so someone else is equipped and can find the blessing that is working hard and being proud of your work and the joy of blessing someone else. But also if I can empower someone else, then I will NOT end up lonely and over-worked; I can end up surrounded by partners and having that elusive time to be peaceful with Jesus and work on whatever He needs to work on with me, and do what brings me life instead of just what I have to do to live.

Considering the first part of our “week three” in the booklet, I want to bring to you today a few questions:

> Are there conflicts (current or potential) that I am ignoring because I hope they’ll just go away?

> Are there steps I need to take now to keep a small issue from becoming a big issue later?

> And going back to the scenarios at the start of this post, is there an area in which you’ve been unwilling to take the time that might be needed to help you pursue peace in your life?

It’s never too late to take a step in the right direction! Whether you’ve been keeping up with the study or not, today is a great day to take a step toward peace.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18