Not long ago a fellow Christian communicated, “I could have peace if only she would…”
She spoke about her Christian roommate whom she described as “irresponsible” and “someone I have no respect for.” She then preceded to list all the ways her roommate irritated and frustrated her. This person believed the only way her peace could be restored was if someone else changed. She decided she needed to be in charge of that project and vigorously pursued it.
Her efforts to change her roommate’s behavior brought out negative actions of her own—name-calling, angry outbursts, haughtiness, arguments, and trying to control.
This describes the trap I’ve found myself in repeatedly in my relationships. I too have resorted to negative measures to try to change someone else, so I could have peace.
Along the way God has reminded me that the peace I longed for was not dependent on another person. He revealed to me the following powerful verse in the midst of marital conflict where I viewed my husband as the enemy:
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 NIV
I saw that when my husband and I engaged in a battle, it was not his bad behavior or his hurting me that brought about a lack of peace. What robbed me of peace was my moving away from God and what He had called me to do and to be. It wasn’t Steve’s disobedience to God that was robbing me of peace, but my own.
I have tested it again and again and discovered that when I am obedient in relating to others, God gives me peace—no matter what they are doing.
Oswald Chambers in his book My Utmost For His Highest speaks of the peace brought about by obedience:
“Whenever you obey God, His seal is always that of peace, the witness of an unfathomable peace, which is not natural, but the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, tarry till it does or find out the reason it does not. “
One day years ago I asked Steve to list some of the ways I disrespected him when I felt he was in the wrong. Here is what he listed: “tries to dominate, argues, shows no appreciation, contradicts me, refuses to listen and presumes to know me better than I know myself.”
At the time I wondered, Am I really like that? It was difficult, but I had to confess to Steve and to the Lord that I was. I had been so busy thinking about what my husband did wrong that I paid little attention to my behavior. How easy it was to make excuses for it like a little child who says, “But he hit me first.”
Instead of having as a goal, “Change the other person, so I can have peace,” a new goal I’ve embraced is:
Be careful to do what is right…as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:17-18
As I seek to live at peace with others through obeying how God wants me to relate to them, His peace continues to flow to me.
Loving like Jesus brings peace. I pray God will keep reminding me of this truth and that I will embrace it fully.
How about you? Do you feel someone’s bad behavior has robbed you of peace? Are you courageous enough to look at your own wrong actions and confess them to God, and determine to obey, so He can give you peace?