Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18 NIV
My 14 year old daughter is growing so quickly that people often say, “She’s growing like a weed!”. If you’re not from the south, you might not understand that analogy. Think of a dandelion. Some people love their cheery bright yellow blossoms and ‘wish seeds’. But most folks abhor them because they grow quickly, spread easily, and are hard to get rid of once they are established. Weeds will pop up in an instant, uninvited, especially in your beautiful garden.
My husband, daughter and I were in the car on the way home from church recently, and we were discussing the morning’s events. Something had happened during worship that had really hurt my feelings, and we were processing it together. To be honest, at first I appreciated their response to my feelings. They were defending and supporting me, which felt much better than how I had felt when I was trying to ‘get it together’ in the church bathroom all by myself. My husband announced that he was fed up and ready to find another church. I was weary and eager to go home. And then, something changed.
I realized that what I REALLY longed for was PEACE. In the face of adversity and injustice, I longed for peace instead of vindication. I didn’t want to retaliate or to ‘be right’. I didn’t want people to ‘take my side’. I just wanted peace. I didn’t feel called to leave. We are where we belong. I reminded them that we love our church family and that they love us too! I said that I wasn’t ready to pull up our stakes and leave just because of some drama. I wouldn’t be scared away by someone with a difficult personality. Instead of wanting to grumble about the morning, I realized that we can’t possibly know what motivates people to act how they act or say the words they say.
I heard myself say, “I cannot be responsible for anyone’s actions but my own. People watch how we respond, and I choose to follow Christ and respond in love rather than anger. We have an opportunity to serve God right where we are, and I will not run away from the task before us.” And then I had more tears. Tears of joy and gratitude. Because the peace that I yearned for a minute ago was washing over me. Healing and cleansing my bruised feelings from the day. Softening my heart.
I wasn’t hurt or angry anymore. I was tired, but also invigorated, transformed and inspired.
I stopped growing taller a long time ago, but yesterday, I felt like my HEART grew “like a weed”. I hope that this new understanding of peace and the desire to respond in love fills my heart like a dandelion can fill a yard.
Is there a person you avoid because of strife? Do you dread the way you feel when you need to interact with them? I invite you to ask God to show you how to respond to them with peace instead of anger. Believe, receive, and then rejoice when He responds tenderly to your request to honor Him as you deal with what feels like ‘weeds in your garden’.
Heavenly Father, Thank You for softening our hearts when we feel hard hearted. Thank You for allowing us to grow in Your word, to be guided by Your Holy Spirit, and for opportunities to grow ‘like a weed’ wherever you plant us.