I hate writing about things I have yet to obtain in my life. This area...Harmony & Peace, has not been an easy one for me. I was in college waiting tables the first time I recognized conflict came easier than peace. I got in a tiff with the bartender and the manager came over to me and said, “Why do you always have to look for a fight? Even when it is something dumb, you just can’t let it go.”
When I went back to my dorm that night, all I could think about was what my manager had said to me. I started to notice how often I felt justified to “speak my mind.” Often missing from both my speaking and my mind were any words of kindness. I could chew someone up and spit them out in under 3 minutes and I walked away proud of my ability to stand up for myself.
I grew up a fighter. I lived in a family of 5 kids. My dad was gone and my mom worked hard to support us. There were many afternoons we were left unguarded and the pecking order took effect. I often found myself in a word war, and sometimes a fist war, with one of my siblings. I can remember one fight my sister bit me so I punched her. When my mom got home from work that day, it did not go well for either one of us.
When Philip and I got married, he told me he wasn’t going to fight with me. I laughed and told him that everyone fights. He corrected me, “We will not fight.” I thought he was joking.
I can remember the first time I got really upset with Philip. It was over something completely stupid. It was so dumb I can’t even tell you because you will lose all respect for me. I will just say that he did something nice for me and I didn’t like how he did it so I wanted him to do it again…except my way. Dear night, I can’t believe I am even telling you that much!! To clarify; I would never get upset about this today. Philip put his hands on his hips and said, “I don’t know who you are going to fight with, but it isn’t me.”
I learned something huge that night...It is very difficult to fight by yourself.
God knew who and what I needed in my life. I needed to marry a man of peace in order to understand what I was missing. That first year was hard for me because Philip would not fight. I would say to him, “A good fight would clear the air.” He felt the exact opposite. He believed a good fight would leave a wedge that would separate and divide us. He was a much better person in this area than I was.
My journey towards harmony and peace has not been an easy one. It has taken me 20 years to narrow down which situations scream out to me the loudest. I am now quick to establish better boundaries that protect the vulnerable places of my heart. There is a reoccurring theme found among most of my moments of “freak-out-ness”. When I am hurt, my first response is anger. Instead of tears, I want to fight.
When I was a little girl, my dad would make fun of me if I cried. I would leave the dinner table crying and can remember him laughing. I am not sure when I stopped crying, but somewhere along the way…I just got mad. Being angry felt so much better than being sad. I refused to be the victim, so instead I became the victor. I don’t think anyone ever called me meek or gentle or kind or a pushover. I will leave to your imagination other words they may have used to describe me.
Then I married Philip and he told me I wasn’t going to be mad and that we were going to be happy. So, if you think this is a sappy love story, you are right. God used Philip to teach me that being vulnerable was okay and that I didn’t have to fight to be heard. Being mad did not make me safe. Being mad just made me…mad.
When Philip and I got married, our pastor used to say, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be reconciled?” All my life, I was fighting to be right. I began recognizing these moments for what they were…sin.
Out of all the areas in my life, living in harmony and peace is still a challenge for me and yet it is the area I can see the most growth. I am not an angry person. I can go a few months without being mad at anyone and then get caught off guard and get madder than I should. I can think of 100 times I have failed miserably, made a fool out of myself, and said or did something I regret. I can also think of 100 times I managed to control my feelings and walk in kindness even though I was hurt or mistreated.
I would love to say I walk every day in peace, but I don’t. I would love to say you can smell harmony everywhere I go, but you don’t. I can say that every day God is with me, growing me, and challenging me. When I listen to him, I am able to recognize my weakness and ask him for strength. He is also with me after I go headstrong into battle and I act the part of a fool. He then helps me see where I failed and gives me the humility to apologize.
Needless to say…I am awesome at saying, “I am sorry.” and I am amazing at being forgiven. Thank goodness God extends his mercy and grace to me every day and that they are new every morning. This certainly is something I count on.
I am a girl passionately in love with Jesus, my husband, and my children. I am forever learning how to live a life completely undone for my God. This blog is about my journey and a few funny stories in between.