Pierogies and Peace

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 pierogies.

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 pierogies 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 pierogies.  

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.

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Image by ParallelVision from Pixabay

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 reflect on Ephesians 4:20–32.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The Games People Play

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay 

The fruit of the Spirit is . . . peace. Galatians 5:22 NIV

Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. –Romans 12:18 TEV

Make every effort to live in peace with all men. –Hebrews 12:14 NIV

 

Karen and Paula were fighting again. Our third grade class was split in two.

“Whose side are you on?” one classmate would ask the other.

Never mind that the two best friends would soon make up and put the spat behind them, leaving the rest of us in social turmoil, everyone mad at everyone who wasn’t on her side.

Everyone, that is, except Thomas.

“I’m on my own side,” he answered confidently when I asked him.

Good for Thomas for not choosing sides and staying out of it. He probably had—and kept—the most friends.

Why did I have to choose a side, anyway? Because it was the thing to do? Because I felt pressured by my peers? Because if I didn’t choose a side, I’d be left out? At least if I chose a side, I’d have some friends.

At that age, I thought the silliness of taking sides was a kid-thing, that we’d outgrow it and, as adults, be able to get along with one another.

Ha! It doesn’t get any better, does it? From office squabbles to church splits to road rage to family feuds, discord abounds in the world around us. Will it ever end?

A more important question, though, is, where does it start? (Once you can answer where it starts, you have the answer to how it can end.)

It starts, not with conflict between two people, but in the heart. When the twins of selfishness and pride reign, one-upmanship defines all your relationships. You have to tell the better story, own the nicer home, drive the more expensive car, have the last word, inflict the final blow.

It never ends, though, does it? It just goes on and on and on, until one person says, “I’ve had enough.”

It takes two to tangle. All it takes for peace is for one person to refuse to take part in these dangerous games people play.

Look at the story of King Saul and David, the shepherd boy anointed to be the next king. With all his kingly resources, Saul relentlessly pursued David to kill him, but David, even when he had an opportunity to gain the upper hand, refused to retaliate. It wasn’t David who suffered from a troubled spirit (1 Samuel 16:14).

How can we obtain the inner peace that spills over into outer peace?

First, make peace with God, the giver of peace (Romans 5:1), through His Son, Jesus Christ. Remember the peace that He gives is deep and lasting, unaffected by worldly troubles (John 14:27).

Second, learn to trust God with every aspect of your life, banishing anxiety by telling God about your needs (Philippians 4:6–7, 19; Matthew 6:8, 25–33), knowing that His way is always the best way (Isaiah 55:8–9).

Third, train your mind so that your thoughts are on God, for He will “keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on” Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Fourth, make a conscious effort to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15) by refusing to play the one-upmanship game, to retaliate when someone hurts you (Matthew 5:38–48). Don’t allow bitterness to take root in your heart and mind, where it will grow and poison you and your relationships with others (Hebrews 12:14).

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, and every kind of malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Don’t play the payback game (Romans 12:14–21).

Instead, “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God, in Christ, has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32), and overcoming bad with good.

Peace is a choice.

What’s yours?

Dear God, in a time when world peace is humanly impossible, remind me that true peace begins with me—and You. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Samuel 24 and Colossians 3:12–15.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey.