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.

Piece of Mind or Peace of Mind?

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“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:14 (NKJV)

I almost blew it. I almost made a bad situation worse, a complicated situation more complicated. The temptation was strong. My words and actions would’ve been justified—so I thought at that moment.

While I can’t give the details of what happened, I can say this: I was ready to give someone whose behavior was offensive—and had long been offensive—a piece of my mind. I’d kept my mouth shut far too long, I reasoned. Enough was enough.

Before I picked up the phone, though, I took a prayer timeout. I slipped into my bedroom, shut the door, dropped to my knees, and poured out my anger, frustration, and pain to my heavenly Father. The battle between what I wanted to do and what I knew I should do—what God would want me to do—was intense.

The needle gauge on my faith tank was pointing to Empty. Faith that God would answer my prayers for change, for healing for the persons involved, for a transformation of heart, mind, and spirit—something only God can do.

I left my prayer room still shaken, still trembling with emotion, clinging to something called self-control for all I was worth.

Over the past week, I’ve had time to reflect on what happened, and I’ve realized several things:

I can’t control another person’s words or actions, however hurtful they are, or their impact and consequences. I can only control, with God’s help, my own actions and reactions, which should reflect the growing fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Acting in the heat of the moment, succumbing to pressure, saying words that can’t be unsaid, doing something than can’t be undone, is never the right choice. Taking the situation, in all its ugliness, your emotional turmoil, your jumbled thoughts to God, is. It’s never right to give a person, however offensive they are, a piece of your mind. It is right to set firm boundaries and let them know, in a loving way, where those boundaries are.

Convincing another person they’re wrong is not my job. I need to remind myself often, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” (Billy Graham) Even when loving is hard. Even when there’s no love left in your heart for that person. Even when you don’t even want to allow God to love that person through you.

I can’t always be the peacemaker, no matter how hard I try. But I can pray for God’s peace to prevail—in the situation and in my own heart, mind, and spirit. I can pray that my negative emotions shrivel and die, crowded out by the love, joy, and peace that come from God.

Sometimes we have to live with the thorn in the flesh, but God’s grace is all we need to endure and triumph over it (2 Corinthians 12:7–10).

And finally, God reminded me of another impossible situation, many years ago, that I thought would never change—another person who was a thorn in my flesh for a long time despite my prayers. In His time and in His way, God worked a miracle, and that person was transformed.

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, when we light the candle of Peace. While we have little control over external peace—or the lack of it—we do have control over our own inner peace. It’s simply a matter of submitting to the Prince of Peace.

As I light the second Advent candle, Lord, may Your peace prevail in my heart, mind, and spirit—and be a beacon of light in a hurting world that so needs Your peace. Amen.

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Read and meditate on the following PEACE verses:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18 (NIV)

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” – Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. – Romans 14:19 (NKJV)

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. – 1 Corinthians 14:33 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6­–7 (NIV)

 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone. – Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)

. . . be at peace with each other. – Mark 9:50 (NIV)

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. – Psalm 34:14 (NIV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – Jesus, as quoted in John 14:27 (NIV)