My buddy Curt and I were sitting outside having breakfast the week between Christmas and New Years. It’s a local, non-franchised little place that has a group of regulars.
The place was crowded so we sat outside to eat. It was a bit cold which deterred any other outside diners. The place started to get busy so the owner had the hungry customers sign in on a clipboard attached to one of the front stucco columns.
A dad and his two kids had signed the clipboard and were enduring their time outside while waiting to dine inside. The daughter was the oldest and looked to be about 10 or 11 years old. She was about a foot taller than her little brother who appeared to be 7 or 8.
It didn’t take long and the both of them were bored out of their gourds. They started to pick at each other to pass the time. The process escalated to the little brother giving an accidentally-on-purpose step on his big sister’s toes. Her response was less than subtle. She grabbed him by his shoulders and kicked him as hard as she could on his shin! Ouch! It looked painful… The boy turned away unfazed.
The both of us started bustin’ a gut immediately. We shared stories from our childhood that had similar results.
I’ve played both roles as a kid. I’ve been the one to pester my siblings, I’ve also been the one to administer justice. Being the youngest, I freely confess to the former significantly more often than the latter.
Generally the justice is taken from the instigator without retaliation. Interestingly that only usually happens with people we love or care for greatly. As kids, if anyone outside our family treated us the same way we treated each other we would attack to protect the ones we love.
As I sat laughing at the boy who reminded me a bit of myself a long time ago, I realized with years not that much changes. The ones we love and live with are the ones we have the least patience for. We know each other so intimately that we know which buttons to push in order to aggravate or get under the other’s skin.
The ones in this life who should be getting the best of our personalities, sometimes get the exact opposite. I know I’ve been guilty of wearing the talking mask of manners around all day long and taking it off as soon as I walk through the door. Sometimes behind that mask we hide a monster.
What were some of the adjectives Jesus Christ used to describe love? Oh yeah, patient and kind. Never mind the rest for now. If we can conquer with God’s power in us just those two alone, we begin to bring God honor and the loved ones He’s blessed us with as well.
We might be able to get an academy award for our acting throughout the day, but the people we live with know the truth. No one knows our strengths and weaknesses like our family.
I’m not condoning conflict, but we all get a taste of it in an ongoing basis. I’ve learned the last place and the last people I want conflict with are the ones God has placed closest to me.
These are my gifts. I can never possess anything more precious than these in this physical world. They are part of me with strengths and weaknesses just like mine.
I desire what they desire, love, peace, and happiness from a Biblical perspective. Isn’t that what all of us want?
Most conflicts in life are similar to that step on the toes, repaid with the kick to the shins. “You Get What You Give.” What are we giving the ones closest to us?
For the record, I don’t miss being kicked on the shins…