Tonight I circled up the family. All nine of us. I reminded everyone that this was the beginning of the holiday season. Tomorrow we would celebrate Thanksgiving with a huge turkey and all the trimmings. Family would be joining us and memories would be made.
They listened intently to me as I went on to tell them about how we would have to FIGHT FOR PEACE these next few days. I told them that peace doesn’t just happen, it is something that is fought for.
I led us all in prayer and asked God to give us the strength to fight for peace these next few days.
It was really a great family moment. They were tracking with me. They were REALLY WITH ME.
I said Amen…and everyone went their separate ways.
Not kidding, 30 seconds later…there was a blow up between two of my kids, fighting over who was going to sit in the recliner. MY RECLINER.
And I broke up the argument by yelling from the kitchen…
“IT’S MY RECLINER AND NO ONE IS SITTING IN IT EXCEPT FOR ME!”
Talk about a win.
But instantly, I turned to my wife Mel and said: “We are OPPOSED in this!”
“Here we are TRYING TO HONOR GOD with how we treat each other and it was blown to pieces in two minutes time!”
And so here I am…sitting at my computer. Not because I’ve figured this out, but because I haven’t.
See, the holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, are that time of year when OUR EXPECTATIONS AND OUR REALITY are often far apart.
We envision our home filled with the warmth of The Wonderful Life and the humor of Christmas Vacation.
And when our expectations aren’t met, our tempers flare, careless words are spewed, doors are slammed and tears are shed.
So how do we do this? How do we fight for peace?
I can say that we have seen some success over the years. It’s obviously not perfect, as indicated by the events I referenced from tonight.
My wife brought me this verse the other day. Romans 12:9-10
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
It was the last part of verse 10 that jumped off the page at us.
OUTDO one another in showing honor.
What incredible imagery there. Can you imagine OUTDOING your family members in showing honor?
That is hard when what we really want is to OUTDO them in a shouting match.
Those words OUTDO ONE ANOTHER could also be translated PREFER ONE ANOTHER
Here’s what I know about me.
I don’t like to PREFER ANYONE OVER MYSELF.
I prefer to prefer me.
But can you imagine…how much more PEACEFUL our lives would be if we consistently preferred others over ourselves?
What we have found over the years of navigating the holidays is that it never gets easier.
The stress is always there and our expectations are always high.
But…we come into this season with boundaries.
We declare on SPECIAL DAYS like Thanksgiving and Christmas, that they will be “fight free zones”
We will prefer one another by avoiding landmines in conversations that WE KNOW WILL BLOW UP WHEN WE STEP ON THEM.
We prefer one another by LETTING UNDERHANDED COMMENTS GO WITHOUT A SNARKY RESPONSE.
We prefer one another by asking ourselves: IS THIS REALLY WORTH IT?
Is it worth RUINING THE ENTIRE HOLIDAY in order to get the last word in?
As parents, we prefer the kids over ourselves.
It’s easiest to take our stress and frustration out on our spouse because they are the other adult in the house
What we don’t realize is that WHEN WE RAISE THE TEMPERATURE in our home because we are FIGHTING WITH OUR SPOUSE.
The kids won’t remember the Thanksgiving Meal.
They won’t remember decorating the tree.
They won’t remember making cookies together.
They’ll only remember that mom and dad always fought on holidays.
And somewhere in there, we put up the tree, made a turkey and burned some cookies.
So as parents, we ask ourselves
What are the memories we want our kids to have?
I know the thought of “making memories” isn’t real spiritual sounding…
But what I do know is that our memories often shape our viewpoints and our viewpoints shape our actions
And honestly, if our home is not a place of peace…why would our kids ever want to come back to visit after they move out?
And if we can’t figure out how to be at peace with each other when only our kids are in the mix…
How will we ever be at peace when our kids marry and bring OTHER PEOPLE into our family.
So tomorrow…we will FIGHT FOR PEACE.
And as one of my favorite preachers Voddie Baucham always says:
“Better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today.”
Fight for peace.