So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It’s the bitterness that lasts**
The role I assumed in my family was one of peace keeper. We weren’t a particularly quarrelsome family, but whenever conflict of any sort arose, I’d try to mediate the situation and smooth things over. This naturally bled into every area of my life. I think peace keepers are necessarily people pleasers–conflict avoidance and the desire to please others make ready bedfellows.
For most of my life I viewed my peace-keeping, people-pleasing inclinations as virtue. Then God tough-loved me and revealed this as an idol of mine (in the sometimes soft, sometimes sledgehammer ways His Spirit can work in your heart through His Word, study or circumstance–and in my case, all three simultaneously).
In our well-intentioned-but-flawed state, we can make an idol out of
anything when it becomes the thing we “worship”, even good
things–work, volunteerism, children, marriage, busyness, and in my
case nice. The god of Nice. I was much more concerned about “you”
liking me (whether it be family or friend or co-worker) than I was
about pleasing God. That meant conflict, real issues between people,
weren’t dealt with; instead, they were conveniently swept under the rug
and forgotten. The problem with that is the dusty point of contention
was still there.
So we open up a quarrel
So don’t yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different day
And if you don’t give up, and don’t give in
You may just be OK.
I was working through the Beth Moore study “Living Beyond Yourself” when God smacked me with this revelation…the difference between being a peace keeper (not so healthy) and a peace maker (very healthy). Moore suggested (and keep in mind I studied this several years ago and my memory and notes are imperfect!) keepers try to maintain peace at any cost, but there’s no completed action, no resolution of the conflict; in essence they’re keeping something (a false peace) that doesn’t really exist (because there’s no resolution). Peace MAKERS on the other hand, deal with the issue, work through to resolution.
For me, these ideas were revolutionary. I began to see in retrospect how my peace-keeping role in family had perhaps, ironically, created a chasm in my relationship with my father, not bridged a gap. There were a lot of little somethings in between us, preventing a closeness I longed for.
I never dealt with those things. There was never true peace made with Daddy.
You know why? Because I wanted him to be the initiator of peace (but I’m sure he never even realized there was division); as my father, it was him who needed to pursue me, not me, as his child pursuing him. I wanted him to be the grown up.
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye
It’s important to note we loved each other, there was no doubt about that. This isn’t about loving–invisible threads that tie parent to child, where shared blood flows with forgiveness and long-suffering and affection.
This is about knowing each other. I never got to know him, I never really let him know me.
Because I wanted to please him, because I would rather have kept peace with him than make him uncomfortable, I never tried to know him.
As I began to understand these things about myself, about him, I began to extend to him a kind of generosity…I no longer found fault with him or blamed him for not trying to know me. Truly, I’m inclined to believe a fair amount of this lies with his generation and his general guardedness in sharing his emotions; part of it lies with him wanting to protect me from things I “didn’t need to know”.
in a twisted turn of fate in God’s sovereign mercy, Daddy’s health began declining. Dementia and early Alzheimer’s began to surface, at first, excusable (don’t we all forget where we put our keys or the name of someone we just met?), eventually impossible to ignore.
How could I possibly find the good in that?
…this is getting long, so thoughts to be concluded next post….