Madalyn (my 8-year-old) loves to play with our neighbor’s little girl. I am always surprised that they argue so much and tend not to want to share, but at the end of the day, they still want to hang out together. When Madalyn is in bed, I tell her she should be nicer and ask why she was so mean. Of course, she says, “I don’t know, just sometimes I am mean.” Hmmm. I get to thinking how often I would tell her how great she is doing and say, “You are so much like your dad.” But when she acts out and is mean someone else says, “You are so much like your dad.” And you know what? They are probably right. I get the good and the bad.
I don’t think everyone can live a life as a full-time peacemaker, but at times we all have to do some peacemaking. If you are faced with divorce with children, it can be hard to want to take the high road and be the peacemaker. Too often it feels better to simply avoid the problem or just give in to the other person hoping the problem goes away but neither of these options resolves the conflict.
You may be asking yourself why being a peacemaker is beneficial. For starters, if you have children you are already a peacemaker and need to teach them the skills so they can resolve conflict in their own lives. You are also going to need to come to some agreement with your ex, even if they are cheating !@#$%. But this isn’t about them, and what they did; it is about YOU.
When we have unresolved conflict in our lives it creates stress and stress can lead to illness but even worse unresolved conflict can block fellowship with God, prayer seems unanswered, and happiness is hindered.
1 John 4:20-21 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
God commands us to forgive one another and reconciliation is a prerequisite for worship. We are supposed to make things right with those we’ve wronged. No, we have no control over what they do, but we can do our part and move on. Our relationship with God is not contingent on whether or not others choose to forgive us or ask our forgiveness, but it is directly related to us doing our part.
Here are some simple steps to help you become a peacemaker:
- Make a Plan – Which means you can’t wait for the other person to take the initiative, you do it.
- Empathy – Empathy is a powerful tool in any toolbox. When we can emphasize we can put ourselves in other’s shoes. Sometimes problems don’t seem quite so bad when we can step out of ourselves and take a different perspective.
- Address the Problem – It can be easier to attack the person and tell them everything they did to hurt you, but that only creates more conflict. Address the problem and forget about the blame. You are the one who had taken the initiative, the mature one, so don’t blow it by tearing them down, instead, build them up.
- Ego – That damn ego can make a mess of things, so you are going to need to put it away. Some people are extremely hard to talk to and don’t want anything to do with forgiveness, cooperation or taking responsibility for their actions. But you did not come this far to not say the five most difficult words in the English dictionary, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”
- Reconciliation – Chances are you aren’t going to resolve all the issues but what you can try to do is reestablish the relationship to a degree where you both can agree to disagree. Especially, when children are involved you and your ex-are going to need to meet on common ground for a common purpose.
With many things, there is a price to pay by taking the high road. The price for peace is letting go of your ego and self-centeredness. Admitting you have done wrong or made some bad decisions are hard to do, but once you get it out it can be freeing. You can stop beating yourself up and put the ball in the other person’s court. What they do with it is up to them. For you, it is about getting closer to God and being able to find inner peace and happiness.