The world is a tough place to be. Mass killings here and abroad, currently a bitter election that is fraught with lies, deceit, and accusations, children taking weapons to school and killing those who have bullied them and anyone else who gets in their way, children killing parents, and parents killing children, workplace violence, you name it, we have experienced it many times over in the last few years. Driving to or from work daily can be brutal; people honk, get impatient and flip others off with little provocation, or angrily shake fists at drivers who, in their estimation, are going too slow.
We prefer to communicate through email, text, Twitter, Facebook, or SnapChat instead of picking up the telephone and sharing a part of our lives, or thoughts and ideas with another. And I am no different in that respect. Our preference for communication has made us more callous; it’s easier to filet someone with words thru a text or email, and that in turn hardens our hearts even more. Our world is less friendly, less kind, less forgiving, less loving.
So, what do we do in such a world to find acceptance, peace, safe harbor? We snuggle into family, the one place in the world that should be a sanctuary for us when the world gets too harsh.
Is your family a sanctuary of love and peace? If you’re like many, probably not. Marriage is difficult, parent-child relationships are often strained for a variety of reasons. As people have moved away from God, we have moved away from each other, too. And that’s sad. When we are wounded by the world, we need to be able to find that safe, soft place to land, a place where we are cared for, where we can lick our wounds, heal, and recoup our energy.
Whether you are a church-goer, believer, agnostic or atheist, one has to admit that there is some pretty awesome wisdom found within the scriptures. If you have been to a wedding chances are the “Love” chapter was read at some point; I Cor 13:4-7. The “love is patient, love is kind,,,” one. Love doesn’t brag, doesn’t keep a tally of another’s wrongs, it’s not jealous, does not provoke, rejoices in the truth, etc. How about Hebrews 10:4, “…provoke one another to love and good deeds”. Wow what if families, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, parents and children actually practiced these?? That would solve several problems with family communication and unity just by applying those principles!
Going deeper: Ephesians 4:26-27, “do not let the sun go down on your anger”, and Ephesians 4:29, “let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Hashing out our differences before letting grudges and bitterness take root would certainly mend a lot of broken people. And speaking only words that lifted up another; the possibilities are endless.
Now, let’s try on Philippians 2:3-4 for size, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” That concept alone would revolutionize the world as we know it.
Change begins with one person; me, you. Change for the better, unfortunately takes a lot longer to happen than change for the worse, but it’s still possible. Speaking words to build others up, putting others before self, and being patient with one another requires an effort on our part; an effort to think before we speak, checking our thought life, changing our priorities, and purposing in our hearts to work toward reconciliation instead of flinging words at one another like sharpened darts.
For many of us unlearning negativity would take some hard work. It is so much easier to speak words in anger and bitterness than to stop and think before speaking to be certain the words spoken build up instead of tear down. Many of us were taught from childhood hurtful communication by our parents. I have heard far too many parents yell, berate, and belittle their children without thought as to the long term effects of words spoken in haste, in anger, and out of frustration. How many times have I mourned over the words I have spoken to my children and others I love? I wish I could take back every hurtful word I have ever spoken, but that’s just not how it works.
The good news is that as long as we draw breath we have the opportunity to change our thoughts, our speech, how we relate to one another. It’s our choice. We can overcome evil with good, mend the brokenness in our families and make our families that sanctuary of peace; a place to snuggle in.
Dedicated to my family…..the place I need to snuggle in