Tuesday – September 23, 2014; Romans 16:17-20
17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them. 18 For such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded. 19 For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise in what is good and guileless in what is evil. 20 The God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Our world is full of contention…I have been thinking that this is a new thing, but it is not…it just seems new, because social media like Facebook and Twitter gives it more of voice!
If we look back through the Bible, contention has been part of the human experience since the story of Cain and Abel. Anyone with kids can see how pervasive contention is in our lives: even with only one child, my time as a single parent has been tumultuous, with disagreements, arguments and shouting matches!
Beyond the turmoil that can affect my daughter and I, I have seen her struggling with friends and boyfriends, as well as people she just did not like…and have seen how the children of friends, even siblings can fall into conflict. I have even had contention with my older siblings, even though I have idolized and looked up to them my whole life!
However, this is not to say that all life is about conflict…it is just that conflict makes so much more noise, gets more attention than the times of quiet…sometimes even more than times of joy!
When I feel conflict brewing between my daughter and myself (or with anyone else for that matter) I have learned (on anvils of experience) that it is better to work things out, than fight over them…one of the biggest steps is to accept that we will not always agree, and that we will piss-off each other at times. Part of this acceptance is realizing that no one ever has all the answers, and to remember that we are all part of the same family, and all bound by love…either the love we share as parent and child, as friends, companions, or simply as fellow human beings.
With this acceptance we can work through our differences and find a sense of unity, based on our bonds of fellowship and of love…as we are all children of God, and even though we may have differences with each other, our children, and even with God, this bond cannot be broken by a mere disagreement, or even by a heated argument. Not even when we feel as if we have been betrayed, disrespected or have had our trust broken…or break the trust of others.
And sometimes, as parents, we have to break the trust of our children…if we have made a bad or misinformed decision, or find that we need to speak up when we promised to let something go…that can no longer be ignored. As the letter to the Romans tells us, sometimes we need to speak up in the face of what is wrong in order to help those we love get back on track, or even to just keep them safe and secure. This is one of the important, and difficult parts of parenting…especially parenting alone, as our bond of trust with our children can be very strong; however, so is our bond of love, and sometimes our responsibilities as parents have to take precedence.
It can be difficult to speak up at times, as we want to stay on good terms with our children, and in the midst of our often hectic and stressful lives as single parents, it is not surprising that we would want our homes to be a place of safety and of relative peace, instead of constant contention. Yet, there is good news for us (and isn’t there is always good news?), which is that we are never alone! When things get out of hand, and we are struggling to keep our cool, and to keep things calm…when we are trying to accept that we will not always agree…and accept that we sometimes have to do things we do not like…we can always stop and pray for God’s help; we can also reach out to others for support and advice, which can help us find a way to restore peace while still doing the right thing for ourselves and our children.
Often the first step in restoring peace in our homes is to restore peace in ourselves, which this can allow us to help to guide our children back to the right track when they need to be redirected…and can also help us to find the humility to admit when we have gone off track ourselves…and once we can do this, we can find the ability to forgive (or ask to be forgiven) which can help us to put aside our contention and hurt feelings so that we can work together for a solution; and by doing this we are following in the footsteps of Christ, who calls upon us all to love one another.
Where this love is shared, the grace of God’s love shines brightly in our homes and our lives!
Let us Pray:
Dear God, thank you for surrounding us with your grace, given as a free gift through Christ. Please help us to learn how to accept each other, to remember that we are called to love each other, and to turn to you when the challenges we face threaten to cause us to lose our temper…or to turn and hide from our responsibilities. As parents, please help us to give good orderly direction to our children, to show compassion to them, others and ourselves…and to remember that we do not face the challenges of parenting alone but that we are walking in the light of your grace with many other people of faith who can offer us support and guidance which can enable us to restore peace in our families and our lives.