Oxford Languages defines peaceable as inclined to avoid argument or violent conflict.
Sorry, that does not describe me. I am one of those people who face an argument head on. I will deescalate something that can turn violent. Up to that point, I have always been one to engage in the battle, if not the creator of it.
I prefer to live in peace. I grew up in a home where I saw explosions of anger from my mother and passive behaviors from my father. Neither ever wanted to talk about the real issues; if they did, their responses under stress didn’t reflect it. Yes, most of the time our home seemed peaceable. Yet, there was always something brewing under the surface. Like the pressure building under a geyser, it eventually erupted with a great explosion of verbal anger.
So that I could have the peace that followed, I realized I would rather have the geyser explode quickly. As a teenager and even younger, I was good at stepping out and getting the pressure to build quickly for the explosion. I would say things, rather hastily, without consideration of any consequences. I just needed the anger to surface so I could get to the peace. I even got to the point that my passive father exploded with rage once.
I carried that with me into marriage, and admit it had rather poor outcomes. My husband grew up in a different manner. He had a lot of pent up anger. I only knew how to unleash the beast, but not how to calm it. There was a lot of things thrown in anger in those earlier years. I was quick to pick the fight, and quick to play the “it’s your fault card” after. It was a hard habit to unlearn.
In part, I like a good argument. I like to hear all sides, present facts, and hopefully win the argument. My children and I banter. We will pick a side to argue even if we don’t agree with it, just to banter. My husband does not see the humor in this activity and quickly gets fed up with us and tells us to quit fighting. I never saw it as fighting, just a good debate in good fun.
However, it wasn’t fun when tempers flared in our home. I could cut people down with my words and make them feel liked chopped liver. My husbands temper was not something, at that time, he knew how to control. It was not a health environment for a marriage or a family.
One of the benefits of reading Scriptures, is that it is living, and it corrects. I try to change up the versions I read because sometimes I “know” the verse, but don’t let it transform me. My son and daughter-in-law bought me and ESV Bible one year for Christmas, this passage got my attention. I caused a course correction in my life because I realized I needed transforming.
“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:23-26 ESV
It sure made me think about my “careless bantering.“. I admit I haven’t completely stopped, especially if I get with my son or certain friends. However I am much gentler with it. I don’t do it quite as much. It made me think about my methods of getting to the eruption.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ESV
God really had to do a work in me. Instead of stepping out into an argument, He taught me to step out to Him in prayer. I literally would take my thought captive and take my argument to God, much like Job did. I would tell Him how I was feeling about the elephant in the room, especially with my husband. I wouldn’t walk on the eggshells, I would walk away from them and into the arms of the Father.
At first I still struggled with the argument in my mind. Obviously I was rehearsing to God what I wanted to say to my husband. I would play a record of the fight we were not having in my head. I had to learn to give it to God and stop meditating on it. I realized that it takes two to engage in a fight, and when I walked away, my husband deescalated on his own. The first time my husband came to me with a sincere apology without my nagging and guilt trip, I had to do a little praise dance to God. He did more in my five minutes of prayer, than my two hours of arguing ever did.
I still feel like there are issues that need to be confronted. There are talks that should be had. Personal talks and talks in the community and more global society. I don’t know how to walk in peace, if there is a giant elephant in the room no one wants to talk about. I can not walk on eggshells very long, before I start making noise. I am likely the one to step out and start the difficult conversation, even if it does not begin peaceably. I am still not someone to sit on a topic that needs to be discussed, but I have learned that there is a time for everything.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV
I don’t need to throw fuel on an already blazing fire. It is okay to wait until the coals are smoldering or completely out to have the discussion peaceably. I can speak the truth in love, but it’s okay to wait for a better time. I can guard my heart and mind in Christ until that time is right. I can use wisdom and still live peaceably.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 ESV
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18 ESV
God has called us to live in peace, but that does not equate to live peaceable. Living in peace does not mean that we should not have difficult conversations or stay silent in the face of injustice. Truth is meant to be spoken in love. We should use wisdom when stepping out into those conversations. We should seek God’s guidance and timing. We should guard our hearts and minds while waiting for the right time to have a difficult conversation. Only then will be be able to live in peace.
This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.