Pews, punches and a valuable lesson.
Every Sunday after we wake up and breakfast is over, we begin the task of getting our four young children ready to attend our local church. After the weekly battle to get the socks and shoes on has finally been won, we head to church to find an empty pew that will fit our family.
I wish I could say that the battles were over after the socks and shoes, but most Sundays they are only just beginning. Keeping four young children entertained even when they are in the best of moods can be challenging. I can probably count the number of times our church attending has occurred without a squabble, hitting, crying or antics.
Just this past Sunday, we sat second row from the front, a decision that I allowed our daughters to make. At some point during one of the speakers and an inattentive moment on my part, our youngest daughter climbed under the front pew and had started running back and forth in front of the entire congregation along the front bench, laughing with pure glee.
I wonder what the hundred plus people were thinking as I stood up to retrieve my daughter, who thought it was a game and let out a loud laugh as she quickly turned to attempt a getaway. Meanwhile the speaker continued to deliver what they had prepared as though nothing had happened.
Now I could share many more stories, and perhaps one day I will. I do want to share one more story with you and the lesson I think it can teach us.
Several weeks ago our two daughters were sat next to each other. I don’t know who started the altercation, but a disagreement over something trivial clearly had occurred and one of them had decided to jab the other with their finger.
This quickly resulted in a reply jab, which was met by a hit… this quickly escalated until our youngest had managed to get her foot high enough to kick the other in the face. Needless to say that tears from both parties ensued.
I believe there is a valuable lesson here for each of us. It has been said, and even practiced in the history of mankind that it should be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The major problem with this approach is that the whole world would be blind and toothless very quickly.
No one wants to be jabbed in the side during church, but replying in kind quickly escalates until their are fists and feet flying all over the place.
Small sibling disputes during church are one thing, almost humorous, but when it comes to marriage and life at home, such escalations can prove catastrophic.
Because we all are flawed and imperfect; spouses, parents and children will inevitably make mistakes and collide into each other causing pain, hurt, or upset.
No one is suggesting we shrug our shoulders, turn a blind eye, or condone behavior that makes life at home more difficult than it needs to be.
But replying with equally unkind, harsh, aggressive behavior will never make life at home or in our marriage better. Using our hurt to justify injuring our spouse, sibling, child, or parent doesn’t remove our own suffering, it only escalates and exacerbates the problems until eventually everyone is hurt and unhappy.
Taken to the extreme, responding to the difficult and undesirable actions of others in this eye for an eye approach leads to complete misery, divorce, domestic violence, abuse, hatred and hostility.
Ultimately someone, somewhere, has to be willing to take the higher and harder road. Forgiveness, patience, and taking the time to teach are higher and harder roads. Seeking understanding, demonstrating tolerance, and listening are higher and harder roads.
But if no one is ever willing to take these roads, we will quickly find our homes, our communities and even our nations filled with blind and toothless idiots running around seeking revenge.
For the sake of establishing and maintaining peace and love in our marriages, families and homes, may we ever strive to take the higher and harder roads.
All the best,
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