Conflict, love, peace, and 3 girls

Published 4:56 pm Friday, February 5, 2016

It is not uncommon for my wife to bring several little girls home with her after school. Needless to say, their arrival quickly changes the atmosphere as they burst into the house with a vast reserve of unused energy ready to be released. You won’t be surprised to hear that the afternoon regularly becomes filled with a variety of emotions as they snack together, study together, play together, and engage in conflict with each other.

When a pre-teen with an opinion about everything and a feisty five year old that is unwilling to back down collide, the results can be less than fun. Last week was no exception. Since the weather was finally suitable for them to go outside, Gale instructed Mallory, Addyson, and Madeline to go out to the backyard and practice with their batons. However, there was only one baton between the three of them which called for them to do that most difficult thing: take turns and share.

That sounded simple enough to me, but I also know that nothing is simple when it comes to territorial little girls. In just a few minutes Mallory and Addyson were at odds about whose turn it was to have the baton. It did not take long for Addyson to break out into a crying fit that sounded like a major catastrophe had struck. Like usual, Nana intervened before things escalated further.

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After a few minutes passed and things settled down a bit, I noticed that Addyson was still crying, although not as intensely as before. Then I saw that Madeline was by her side trying to comfort her. Madeline is capable of being at odds with the other girls at times, but at that moment she had taken on the role of peacemaker. She might not yet be familiar with the words of Christ in Matthew 5:9—“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (New International Version–, but she was putting it into practice. If she will hold onto that attitude throughout life, it will serve her well and bring fulfillment to her life.

While we move into another season of celebration with much attention being put on love, it provides a good opportunity to remind ourselves that demonstrating genuine love is much more than buying flowers, candy, and other gifts. Those things have their proper place, but no purchased thing can take the place of expressing love from the heart that yields loving and kind actions. In the description of love as God intended it to be, 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us of these characteristics of genuine love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (verses 4-5).

Sometimes the most perfect demonstration of how God wants us to live can be seen in the most unlikely of places. As Addyson and Madeline walked through one of their little trials in life, I believe I saw in them a picture of God’s love in action. The next step for me is to practice more consistently what I saw: love producing peace. Will you join me in striving to put those attitudes and actions into practice more consistently?