If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18 NIV
A Florida woman found herself behind bars over the holidays when she went after her brother with a knife for eating a plateful of pierogis.
According to the newspaper article, the siblings were at their mother’s home when the two got into an argument about the brother scarfing down the whole plateful. At some point, the 36-year-old woman grabbed a knife and threatened to retrieve the eaten goodies.
The article didn’t say whether the pierogis were homemade or how big the plate was. A serving platter? A dinner plate? Nor did it say whether they were the last of the dish or whether there had been a history of bad blood between the two.
The confrontation ended when the woman plunged the dagger into the hood of her brother’s truck.
Just when you think you’ve heard everything (shaking my head).
Not that I always got along with my siblings. My sister once threatened to drown me in the soapy water when we were doing dishes. Another time my brother grabbed me by the front of my shirt in anger. Imagine his surprise when I, five years younger and much smaller, grabbed his shirt right back. We three kids would get into it so badly at times, our mother fled across the street to her mother’s, saying, “Go ahead. Kill each other.”
Of course she didn’t mean it. We were typical siblings—we had our share of arguments. But we had good times together, too. After all, we were kids, not middle-aged adults who should know better than to fight over a plate of pierogis.
Sometimes it’s just a small thing that appears to incite the blowup.
But the eruption has been building over time, like volcanic gases building up far beneath the earth’s surface. We hold onto our hurts and slights and grievances and stew over them. We keep a record of wrongs, and when we’ve come to our breaking point, like a volcano that can’t contain the buildup of gases any longer, we explode.
A woman once justified her temper to me by likening it to a volcano. “Once I explode, that’s it,” she said.
“But look at the damage it does,” I replied.
How much better to avoid the eruption in the first place.
People are going to say and do things that irritate us. That hurt us deeply. Intentionally or unintentionally. I’ve known folks who are born faultfinders, folks who harbor a contentious spirit, folks who are just spoiling for a fight—with anyone. Perhaps they want revenge—to pay someone back for a hurt inflicted or a wrong suffered. The problem with revenge is where does it end?
It’s not our job to label folks, to judge them, or even to understand why they act the way they do. According to God’s Word, it is our job to get along with them and to love them.
Not easy, I know, but we can accomplish this by doing three things:
Focus on the good in that person. It is there. If you can’t see it, ask God to show you.
Forget the unkind word, the thoughtless or malicious deed, the harsh attitude, the contentious spirit. By forget, I mean don’t keep thinking about it. Ask God to help you truly not remember what that person said or did that hurt you. He’s done it for me.
And pray—for that person, for the situation, for your own actions and reactions, your heart attitude, and for peace to prevail.
How much, after all, is really worth fighting over?
Help me, Lord, to focus on the good, forget the bad, and forgive as You have forgiven me. Amen.
Read and meditate on Ephesians 4:20–32
(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.