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.

Travelin’ Together

If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.  —Romans 12:18 RSV

Our forty-seven-year marriage has survived rearing three kids, building a do-it-yourself house, changing jobs, and losing both sets of parents. But nothing challenges my husband’s and my relationship more than a road trip together.

Dean does the driving and watching traffic and road conditions while I read the map and road signs, letting him know where the exits and the rest areas are. While he depends on me to play the role of navigator, he doesn’t appreciate it when I help him drive, such as pointing to the car ahead and shouting, “BRAKE! BRAKE!”  Or flinching or gasping when it looks as though a tractor-trailer is too close.

If I want my marriage intact at the end of the trip, it’s better, when my navigating skills aren’t needed, to keep my nose in a book or magazine and not on the speedometer or traffic. After nearly five decades, I’m still learning that “he who keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23), and that a soft answer does diffuse a tense situation (Proverbs 15:1).

Still, I fight attitudes and feelings that could easily put us on the wrong road—Selfish Street—that leads only to the town of Heartache.

“Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification,” Paul wrote in the first century in the book of Romans. Those words are especially needed in the home, where I long to let my hair down. It’s hard being nice all day. Sometimes I don’t want to be nice. I don’t want to say the words or do the thing that makes for peace. I want to be mean, to retaliate when someone hurts me, to have the last word. But I know such actions lead only to more strife.

“As far as it depends on you” means I’m responsible, not for what my husband says and does, but for my own actions and reactions. It means keeping quiet when he tries a new route to see if it will save time but it adds more instead. It means biting my tongue and saying something positive through missed exits, wrong turns, crying kids, slow pokes, drivers, and time-consuming detours.

“It’s better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife,” Solomon wrote in Proverbs 21:19. I don’t want to be a wife whose nagging is “like a constant dripping on a rainy day” (Proverbs 27:15). I’d rather be the wife of Proverbs 31, who brings her husband good, not harm, all the days of her life (verse 12).

Lord, help me to be the wife my husband needs so that he can be all You plan for him to be. Enable me to be a true helpmeet. Amen.

Read and reflect on Romans 12:9–18.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Image by Mindz from Pixabay