Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Making Peace

My Sunday school class is currently working through the book The Peacemaker by Ken Sande.  I'm just going to be brutally honest, it is not fun!  It has been the most convicting class I have ever attended.  When the class first began I had intended on buying the book, but like I told some friends yesterday, I'm not so sure I want it.  Don't get me wrong, it truly has been a great class, but it has forced me to see parts of myself I really don't like.  It makes me squirm in my seat, and the room gets so hot I start to break out into a sweat.  Sunday's class was the hardest yet.  Oh my!  I told my friend, Mary, that if I could walk well and not cause a disturbance leaving class with my walker, I'd just get up and leave.  Instead, I had to stay put while coals were being poured over my head.  The Lord has just shown me how in so many ways and so many times in my life I have handled conflict in a non-biblical way.

When I was in the 7th grade and my brother was in the 4th grade, he came home from school one day and told me another boy on the school bus was taking his milk money.  He made me promise I wouldn't tell our mom because he was fearful she would go to school and make a scene.  I promised I wouldn't, but purposely didn't tell him I was just going to handle it myself.  The more I thought about it that night, the angrier I became.  By the time I stepped on to that bus the next morning, I was furious.  Keep in mind this was a boy everyone was afraid of and no one dared to cross him.  I didn't care how rough and scary he was.  I stepped on to that bus and marched myself back to where he was sitting, picked him up by his shirt, slammed him against the window and told him he better leave my brother alone.  I told him if I ever found out he was bothering him again, I'd slam his head through the window.  Then I marched my happy self back to the front of the bus and sat down.  Shortly after the bell rang, I was called to the office to face the vice-principal.  Certainly not an appropriate way to handle that, was it?  But even to this day, I can make a very convincing argument there was nothing wrong with the way I handled that.  After all, I was protecting my brother.

I am not any better at handling conflict today.  I absolutely stink at it.  Depending on what the conflict is about and who it's with, I handle it differently... but hardly ever biblically, if ever at all.  Sometimes I react just like I did with the boy on the bus, sometimes I retreat and run, and sometimes I even pretend it's not even there.  I have even handled conflict wrongly within this very class.

I almost always have a ton of questions in Sunday school class and in bible study.  I probably would raise my hand during the sermon and ask questions if it wasn't inappropriate.  It doesn't bother me at all to ask whatever question enters my head.  My need for answers, my desire for knowing the truth about what the bible says, far outweighs how "stupid" I may look.  However, I totally embarrass my daughter.  The youth have joined the adult Sunday school classes this Summer, so my daughters are in my class.  I say mine because somehow my husband ended up going to another class over the biblical way to handle money.  I probably should be in that class also, but I needed The Peacemaker class more.  Almost every Sunday my oldest daughter will say, "Do you have to ask so many questions?  You are so embarrassing!"

Our pastor is teaching this class, and three weeks ago I asked him if he could slow down.  I feel like we are rushing through the class and always leave with 50 unanswered questions.  I asked him does it really matter if the class last longer than the Summer, if we weren't done by Fall was it really a big deal?  I didn't like his answer and it hurt my feelings.  It wasn't what I wanted to hear, and frankly, I took it the wrong way.  I think I cried through that entire class.  Like a big ole baby, I sat there with tears streaming down my face.  I tried to hide it but I'm certain I was unsuccessful.  His answer was the pin that lanced a boil that had been festering for weeks.  So many hard things have been going on in my life and that just burst my emotions wide open.  That week had been particularly hard.  There is actually a part in this book which talks about not allowing offenses to build up.  I don't remember if Ken Sande said this or if it was Caleb's thought, but he said if you can't let something go after about 3 weeks you should go talk to that person.  Caleb has not had anything to do with what had already been building up in my heart.  Anyone who knows Caleb knows his heart's desire is too never hurt anyone.  In the past when I have taken exception to what he has said, I've just asked him what he really meant.  But not this day.  He realized something he has said upset me, and after morning worship he asked me if he said had something that hurt me.  You see, he had done the biblical thing.  He came to me as soon as possible to clear up any offense.  I, however, blew him off.  I told him I'd get over it, and what he said had burst the boil that had been festering.  He responded by saying if I ever wanted to talk about it to let him know.  

I honestly believed I would get over it.  I had already cried all morning before getting to church, so I knew my emotions were raw.  I knew his comments were not meant to scold me for my question.  He was simply giving me his reasons for moving quickly through the book, and those reasons actually made sense.  It just wasn't the answer I wanted.  Yet, I've noticed I haven't asked any questions during class since that day.  I find myself holding my tongue because I don't want to take up too much time.  I don't even ask the 50 questions going through my head during the time he actually pauses and asks, "Does anyone have any questions or anything to add?"  I have gone from being a baby to being a stubborn toddler.  I have been so wrong to just not say to him, "What you said hurt my feelings, so will you explain it to me?"  Such a simple solution to such a petty response I've had.

This past Sunday, as the coals were being poured upon my head, I looked at Mary and said, "It's week three.  Guess I know what that means."  We both laughed and in that moment I realized how silly I've been.  After worship I told him we need to talk.  He grinned and said okay.  After 3 weeks, I'm finally going to do the biblical thing.  I should have just taken care of it the moment he asked me about it.

Compared to the other things festering in my heart this morning, this one is so insignificant.  And yet, each one of them should be handled the same way it's laid out in scripture.  Some of those things I don't have the courage to face and others I'm so stubborn in taking the position I am right and they are wrong, I refuse to go to them.  It's so easy to point the finger and so hard to take responsibility for my part. 

I've been thinking lately about how many relationships are damaged because we don't follow the biblical way to deal with offenses.  So many families are severed and so many friendships are lost.  We loose so much and gain nothing.  This morning it is my prayer the Lord will give me the want and the courage to deal with the things festering in my heart.  I'm praying He will show me where I have offended others and give me the wisdom how to best deal with them.  I'm also praying He will soften my heart toward those who have offended me.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing... for those who forgive and for the forgiven.


  1. Thank you for sharing your struggles and your victories. Praise God that He knows all about them.

  2. I agree with Adele... Thank you!

    I know I should be in that class too... I opted for Landon's class as well (which is definitely a needed one too). Maybe I should be reading the book?!