Our bedroom door in our last house, the house where we raised our girls to adulthood, had cracks shivering up the plaster. Those cracks came from a particularly furious fight between my wife and me. I don’t remember the specifics but given the timeframe, I’m sure it was about how were we going to pay for college, or our usual fight about discipline and boundaries (me) vs. love and nurture (her), but at bottom most of these fights started and ended the same way — with one of us saying, “do whatever you want — that is what is going to happen anyway.”
The fights were about the chasm between our abilities to be the parents we wanted to believe we were, and the parents that realities of time, money, and energy allowed us to be. The fights were echoes of our own inadequacies projected starkly onto each other.
Tish Harrison Warren speaks of her marital disputes in a framework of ‘Passing the Peace’ and how hard that is to do with the people most familiar to us. Her thesis is that marriage, parenting, these are proving grounds for living as the peacemaker’s Jesus commanded.
It is easy to see that we need to tackle the grand dreams of a peaceful world — we need to fund UMCOR with as many pennies as we can spare — we need to disarm this world of the terrible weapons that have proliferated into the hands of madmen — we need to find common ground with the people with whom we disagree most ardently. All of this is obvious, but as Tish points out, Jesus’ last night of freedom was spent washing the feet of his friends, including the one who would soon betray him. Being a peacemaker in the mundane, with those closest to you can be the hardest task we have been called to.
Our children have grown into adulthood well, probably because they were smart enough to navigate between an authoritarian and a comforter and find the best possible traits from both parents. The fights we had seem to have greyed into the horizon while the love and support have been the things they remember most brightly. The slammed door is forgotten and each hug is cherished. In spite of ourselves — we Passed the Peace.