As a mother of three, I'm spending a lot of time these days finding and creating times to spend intentionally focusing on each child. Bedtime is definitely time for some one-on-one snuggles, but one of my favorite times with my oldest is when I walk her out to the bus each morning. It's a great time for me to talk to her without the distraction of the other kids and to spend a few minutes encouraging her and teaching her, even if she doesn't know it. When we walk out, we'll talk about what she's going to do that day, and I always pray for her before she gets on the bus. If you want to teach your kids how to pray, a live demonstration is the best tool! She's learning that lesson and I've noticed it starting to change the way she says her bedtime prayers, which is awesome. I love it when she prays for her friends at school or others who she knows need prayer without me prompting her to do so.
A few weeks ago, she came home from school every day talking about some quarreling that was going on between some girls in her class. I couldn't tell if she was part of the problem, but the situation was clearly weighing on her heart--so it was weighing on my heart. During our morning prayers, I began to pray that she would be a peacemaker at school. I didn't take the time to explain what that meant to her, I just prayed it and wondered if she would notice. A few days later, I left the peacemaker part out of my prayer, and as soon as I said "Amen," Kate pointed it out. Then she asked what it meant to be a peacemaker. Ding ding!! I had reached the moment I was hoping for. It's always easier to teach Kate when she asks a question, rather than just offering her the information. I explained to her that being a peacemaker meant that make the situation better--that she could stay out of it, that she could help the others get along, that she could make the bad good. I went on to tell her that Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers." It was a sweet conversation that I hoped would make a difference or at least plant the seed.
I wanted to reinforce the peacemaker idea that night, so I began telling her about Jesus and about turning the other cheek. Bad idea. There were tears. Not a good bedtime story, apparently. Duh, mom! Your kindergartner will take this very literally and be terrified that people are going to hit her. It was hilariously bad. Wouldn't recommend that strategy! ;)
Fast forward a few more days and we're once again praying at the bus stop. Kate says, "Mommy, I know what a peacemaker is! It's a person who takes the bad parts of people's hearts out and makes them good." I couldn't help but laugh a little bit. It wasn't exactly Webster's definition, but it made so much sense as I thought about it later. When we don't have peace, it's a heart problem. Peace, in one definition, is basically having a mind (and a heart) that is free from the things that clog up our mind--fear, anxiety, worry, distraction, annoyance, anger, etc. We have these bad parts in our heart--these things we won't give up and turn over to Jesus--and they cost us our peace. They keep our hearts from truly putting God as #1 in our lives, so we're not seeing things with the right mindset. When I'm focused on me and my worries, it's not always easy for me to love others the way I should--and not loving others the way I should leads to fighting and anger and even less peace. Her simple answer made this connection in my mind: being a peacemaker has to start by being a peacemaker in your own heart, then you can help be a peacemaker in the world.
Last week, we had Kate's first parent-teacher conference. It was a little intimidating. You never know how your kid is really doing at school, because they can come home and tell you whatever they want. It was great, though. The teacher went on and on about what a leader Kate is in the classroom. She said that whenever she has other students that are having trouble or are fighting, she can put Kate in the middle of it and count on her to lead them back to doing what they're supposed to be doing and to help make the fighting stop. It was such a proud-momma moment to hear that Kate is truly being a peacemaker at school and that it's being noticed by others. It was another Ding ding! moment, but this time it was for me, as I could see God's hand at work in her life so clearly. God is pretty awesome like that! Not only is He shaping her life, He's using her to teach me lessons about how to live my life. I've got some peacemaking to do in my heart and in my world. How about you?
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God -- Matthew 5:9
Go be a peacemaker!