A Punch in the Arm

image courtesy of .A.A via flickr
In Don't Change the Rules, I talked about how our kids have been enjoying playing the "Punch Buggy" game.  I was relieved that, unlike my experience as a child, I didn't have to deal with them beating each other up physically.  My older brother and other friends left countless bruises on me.  (I, in turn, tattled on them countless times, so it all worked out.)

But I did have to teach my kids that even more important than keeping peace with each other is being willing to sacrificially love each other and put others first.  We had to get to the heart of the issue, to expose how they created a system that managed a difficult situation.

But we do the same thing, right?  We change the system and manipulate our circumstances in order to keep ourselves from dealing with the root issues.  For example:
  1. When we have a conflict with someone in our church, we avoid eye-contact so we don't have to try to be pleasant and kind.  We might even intentionally walk the other way when we see them.  It's much easier to just not talk to them.  
  2. Even worse (I think), when we are in conflict and tension, we do smile and exchange pleasantries, ignoring the fact that there is a real rift in the relationship, we refuse to address it with them in a loving and God-honoring way.
  3. When a friend asks, "How are you?" we instinctively say "Fine" with a smile, instead of sharing the burden in our heart.  I'll never forget the time years ago when I asked a friend how he was doing, and he honestly replied, "I'm tired.  Really and deeply tired."  
  4. Instead of engaging your spouse when he or she hurts you, you keep it in, creating an illusion of peace, versus using that opportunity to grow in oneness.
  5. When you feel slighted by another, it's easier to talk about it with a third party, instead of addressing it directly with the offender. 

God doesn't want us to create a false peace.  He wants our hearts to worship Him alone, and to put away the idols of self, security, and comfort.  And He wants to expose and break our hearts, no matter how much it hurts in the short term.  

And trust me, that exposing and breaking hurts -- more than a hard punch in the arm from my big brother.

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