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Posts Tagged ‘peacemakers’

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“Others first.”

“Listen, don’t talk.”

“Did you obey?”

“Don’t hit!”

These are my very famous one-liners.  Officer Mom always gets the last word when it comes to conflict between four sisters. I feel like I say these things so repeatedly that maybe they do not mean what I think they mean.

Funny, I wanted to be a police officer at one point. God said, “No.”  Could this be him fulfilling the desires of my heart?  Maybe he is just showing me why it wasn’t what I really wanted!

When the children were young, I always tried to keep it simple.  Now that three of my four are getting a little older, I find that my one-liner toddler tips are still my go-to’s.

I don’t mean to insult my kids’ intelligence.  The truth is that conflict has nothing to do with intelligence.  It has to do with the heart.  And the heart, my friends, is a hard nut to crack.  Not complicating interpersonal conflict within our family often means that we must deal with the heart in very direct ways much more often than we must deal with the details of how those hearts got there.  My goal is always to convey a clear, concise message that gets to the very heart of whatever sibling issue we are facing.  Therefore, these short responses to conflict are meant to make my daughters think about their own heart and help them understand where the root problem really is.

When one won’t share and the other is indignant, “Others first” addresses both hearts.  When one talks over another, interrupts, or disregards what the other is saying in order to share what seems far more important to them, “Listen, don’t talk” is a good place to start to check motives.  When there are excuses flying like 747’s through my living room, “Did you obey?” answers them all.  When emotions are high and smooth sounding justification is brewing on all sides, “Don’t hit” is the best I can do to keep the peace.

Interestingly, it usually is not the one who is most “wrong” in the conflict who gets punished.  It is the one who resorts to unchecked selfishness, uncontrolled rage, or unrepentant attitudes that gets the most severe discipline. It becomes less about what happened and more about what is happening…because what is happening tells me a lot about what happened. 

There are reasons I choose to correct my children in this way.  Everyone knows that facts are important any time there is conflict.  The question is not, “Are the facts important?” rather, “Which facts are most important?”  When I allow myself to get drawn into all the, “She did this” and “She did that’s” I get lost somewhere in the loop and we all lose.  No matter which role I end up choosing – be it judge, jury, executioner, or all three – I have found that, in the day to day conflicts, none get to the heart like concise, heart-checking correction.  Keeping correction simple moves the mountains Officer Mom cannot move by force, fear-mongering, or even consequence-facing.

These mountains have names.  We have Mt. Envy, Mt. Me-First, Mt. Mad, Mt. Lazy, Mt. Self-Righteous, Mt. Careless, and Mt. Clueless, just to name a few.  Each one erupts at its leisure, and sometimes, several at once!  I find that addressing where the lava is spewing from is best accomplished with concise, direct correction.  When it is my mountain, it is best accomplished with concise, direct confession.

This is how Officer Mom avoids taking sides.  It is how Officer Mom avoids spending the entire day listening to the play by play including everything from My Little Pony’s poor pet grooming epidsode to Barbie’s bad beach day.  Usually, my one-liners get us back where we need to be without needing the bound to breed more boo-boos backstory.

Unfortunately, there are times when we do have to deal with that backstory.  Those are what I call big bads.  If we are dealing with a big bad, we cannot use the day to day wake-up shots.  Every detail and dirty diaper is something with which Officer Mom must deal.  Everything becomes evidence in the desperate case against our very not-nice villan – sin.  Big bads require big backstory.  Fortunately, we only have those things come up very scarcely, and often it it because Officer Mom has dropped the ball on discipline for several days in a row, but it is tremendously important to recognize a big bad as being just that – big.

So here’s hoping my famous last words help you deal with whatever dirty diapers you have to change today.  Signing off as I get ready to make the donuts and patrol from my grocery-getting SUV.  Remember, others first.  Listen, don’t talk.  Did you obey?  Don’t hit!  May the Lord remind you that blessing is held for the peacemakers.  We, too are children – children of God, that is.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. ~Matthew 5:9

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