In honor of all mothers; thank you for nurturing and loving us, for crying for us and with us, for putting our needs ahead of your own, for praying for us, for forgiving unkind words when we were angry, and for being our cheerleaders and in our corner when it seemed the world was against us. Mothers, more than any others in our lives, remain steadfast in their fierce love for their children. And to my mom who has been in my corner for nearly 60 years – we have had our share of conflicts but I love you more than you will ever know.
Anyone raised in the church is familiar with Proverbs 31; high praise for the wife and mother. The list of her qualities and characteristics is a bit overwhelming, at least for most of us; I fall a bit short of the Proverbs 31 wife and mother, well, a lot short.
Mothers and families come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and abilities. None of us is perfect, but most of us try to do a decent job of raising our children. Along the way, we make wrong turns, poor decisions, lack patience, but more times than not we get it right. We weren’t given an instruction book at birth, we learned from others and mostly through trial and error.
Families are life’s introduction to relationships, and in their own way, lay the foundation for every relationship we will ever have in life. If we knew love, we will love, if not, well, we will have some work to do. Conflict is a by-product of relationships and family relationships are not exempt. If anything, family relationships trigger more conflict than any other relationships in our lives.
God designed the family to be life’s school and truthfully we are always a part of some type of family related or not. We are all a part of a larger family be it our neighborhood, workplace or community and relationships are the common denominator. Except, we can’t just stop being a part of our original family. We can move or change jobs and we may stay in contact with a select few, but for the most part, people come and go in our lives. Family is forever, good, bad, or indifferent; family is our tribe, they are our people.
Sometimes relationships and people are toxic and it becomes necessary to divorce the toxic people in our lives. We need to be careful with our definition of toxic, however. Toxic relationships and people are destructive to our spirits, so anything short of destructive is not toxic. Conflicts are a different animal, conflict is not toxic. Conflicts can be resolved, worked out, conflicts can be forgiven. Conflict is part of the learning process in life and how we handle conflict says a lot.
By design, family life and relationships are a breeding ground for conflict. Conflict is definitely a by-product of relationships. Conflict resolution allows us to rise above the conflict to our higher purpose which is to love. “Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not gloat over other people’s sins but takes its delight in the truth. Love always bears up, always trusts, always hopes, always endures.” I Corinthians 13 4-7 (Complete Jewish Bible)