I had an interesting experience the other day while listening to my children. My sons and husband were going on a winter campout for a Young Men activity a couple of weekends ago. They were leaving at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon to meet up with the other young men and drive to Hatcher’s Pass to find a good camping spot. My boys don’t get home from school until 3:15 in the afternoon, so they had to hustle to get packed and get out the door. My older son walked in the door, knowing they were leaving, looked at his phone and realized his battery was pretty low and needed to be charged before they left.
He walked into our family room where my daughter was sitting watching a video on her iPad. She was charging her iPad at the moment. He told her, in no uncertain terms, to unplug her iPad so that he could charge his phone. She was not aware of the campout and thus did not see the need for him to have the charging cord “right now!” She told him so. A verbal fight commenced in which she was informed of the urgency, to which she responded that his urgency didn’t affect her. If you are a parent, you may be thinking you have heard very similar arguments come from your own children.
I finally decided that they weren’t going to work this out in the short amount of time the boys had to get ready and so I intervened. I mentioned to my daughter the campout, which hadn’t been properly conveyed in the heat of the moment. She said she hadn’t known about the campout, and why hadn’t he said anything? I also informed my son that we have multiple charging cords that work with apple products and that there were several different choices he could pick while he was getting ready. He hadn’t thought about the other options, just the one he thought was most convenient.
As I walked away from the situation, I started to think about all the ways this argument could have been avoided. My son could have calmly walked into the room, let his sister know they were leaving in a short space of time, and asked if he could borrow the charging cord for an hour to charge his phone. My daughter could have looked at the amount of battery she had left, realized she would be fine for a little while, and graciously unplugged the cord and allowed her brother to use it. My son could have chosen to use a different cord, which would have avoided the entire encounter.
How often do we get caught up in a moment of time with blinders on, not even looking at other solutions, only seeing what we think we want or need at that very moment in time? How often do we react to people based upon their behavior, without ever knowing or even trying to understand why they are behaving that way? It seems that our world is constantly wandering around with blinders on, never looking beyond what’s right in front of them. This often causes problems when interacting with others. We see where we need to be, and we see one path to get there. We don’t want to be walked on or pushed aside so we go into the situation like a bull in a China shop tearing into anything and everything that stands in our path.
But there is a better way. A better way to not only get where you need to be, but make sure you don’t break everything in the process. It is by being a peacemaker. Often, we think peacemaker, and we think cowardly, scared, unable to stand up for themselves. But that is not what a peacemaker is. A peacemaker walks around without the blinders on. A peacemaker looks for many solutions, tries and then tries again if that doesn’t work. A peacemaker sees others as valuable, not obstacles standing in their way. A peacemaker tries to help others along their path. A peacemaker tries to find solutions that will benefit the whole, rather than self alone.
As I watched and listened, and then pondered this past couple of weeks, I have decided that I am not always a peacemaker. Sometimes I get so engrossed in what I am doing that I can’t see beyond my own wants or needs. I don’t do this on purpose, but it can be hard to remember to look up and look around at everyone else. I am grateful for this experience, and for the subsequent realization that I need to do better. I have been working on this for a couple weeks and can’t say that I am perfect yet, but I am aware now, I am working on it, and hopefully someday I can be considered a peacemaker in this world.