Pierogis and Peace

 

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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.

(c) 2010 Walter Lim. Some rights reserved. Flicker.com
(c) 2010 Walter Lim. Some rights reserved. Flicker.com

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.

Facing the Giant

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

Photo by tmaull (c) 2008. Some rights reserved.(Flickr.com)
Photo by tmaull (c) 2008. Some rights reserved.(Flickr.com)

To celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary last year, a friend and her husband took a weeklong sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands. Although they hired an experienced captain to pilot the 39-foot Catamaran, my thoughts at the time were, “I’d never do that!” Perhaps I’ve watched too many adventure movies, such as The Perfect Storm or read too many articles about some hapless individual getting lost at sea.

Another friend loves to sail and owns her own sailboat, which she singlehandedly maneuvers on Northwestern Pennsylvania lakes. Sailing, she says, calms her spirit and gets her mind off her worries.

Another friend—also past middle age—celebrated her birthday last year by going skydiving.

Photo by Laura Hadden (c) 2005. Some rights reserved. (Flickr.com)
Photo by Laura Hadden (c) 2005. Some rights reserved. (Flickr.com)

I have to admit I envy these women. Not in a jealous way, but in an admiring one. To be honest, my inner spirit whispers, “I wish I could do that!”

Funny thing is, the older I get, the more fearless I become. Maybe it’s because I realize the time I have left on earth grows shorter and shorter, and I’m missing out on too much simply because I’m afraid.

I used to be terrified of deep water, but two years ago I conquered that fear and learned to swim.

I once remarked—feeling brave at the time—that I wanted to bungee jump the New River Gorge in West Virginia. I’ve since changed my mind because I don’t think this old body of mine would take the jerky stop. But now whenever we drive over it, my husband, the big tease, likes to remind me of my boast.

Just like he teases me about wanting to zip line. “Do you realize how high that is?” he points out whenever we see someone gliding on a cable suspended far above the ground. He knows I’m scared to death of heights.

Photo by Tara Joyce, (c) 2009. Some rights reserved. (Flickr.com)
Photo by Tara Joyce, (c) 2009. Some rights reserved. (Flickr.com)

But bungee jumping and zip lining look like so much fun. So I want to conquer my fear. How else to conquer fear but to face it?

By fear, I don’t mean a reckless fear or a “No Fear” attitude. That can be dangerous. Fear, after all, in the right amount, is healthy. It prevents you from doing something foolhardy that you’ll regret.

By fear I mean an unhealthy fear that keeps you from realizing your potential, from enjoying the thrill of adventure, from trying new things—a fear that keeps you in the safe corner, always watching and wishing.

What is fear, after all, but an emotion—a powerful one—that can paralyze us or propel us forward.

The fear the Bible talks about isn’t a being-afraid kind of fear, but means respect and reverence. For example, I’m not afraid of storms, but I respect their power.

Respect is important in conquering fear. Respect means you acknowledge the danger but take steps to minimize it. You prepare. You train. You learn all about whatever it is you fear or want to do. And you don’t adopt a careless, “I’m invincible” attitude.

Young Timothy had a timid spirit, and his fears were keeping him from realizing his God-given potential as a pastor. So his mentor wrote to him, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (1 Timothy 1:7).

The young shepherd David knew he could conquer the giant because he’d conquered wild animals threatening his flock. And he knew God would enable him.

What fear is keeping you from reaching your potential? From enjoying life? Making you afraid to try new things?

It’s time to give that fear to God, forget what’s behind you, and reach for the abundant life God has in mind for you.

You know, I think I’ll add “go sailing” to my bucket list.

Father, I give my fear to You. Help me to embrace the challenges and to live my life to the fullest. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on 1 Samuel 17:1–50

Even more tea: Research how many times “fear not” or “do not be afraid” appears in the Bible.

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.