Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sibling Arguing

During the first 4 years of marriage, my husband and I rented a house near a very active train track.  Our house was about 5 houses down from the junction passing where the conductor, by law, had to blare his/her horn multiple times to warn drivers on the road of the train's arrival.  I would estimate that roughly 15 trains a day would rumble across the track blaring their horns loudly and repeatedly.  

For some families who live near railroad tracks, they can grow almost fond of a train's lullaby rumbles.  This was never the case for us.  From the day we moved in to the day we moved out, we never got used to the booming and shrilling sounds of the trains.  Probably because the sounds weren't lullaby-like rumbles, rather they were heavy metal-like shrilling vocals and guitar playing.  Imagine being abruptly awakened from peaceful sleep three to five times a night to a heavy metal concert blaring in your ear.  Trust me, it wasn't ideal.    

If you're a parent of two or more children, the sounds of sibling arguments and fighting throughout the day can be like the sounds of those trains I too frequently heard those early years of marriage.  Booming, shrilling, heavy-metal type sounds that you just never get used to.

I have to believe that at least some of you know what I'm talking about.  Perhaps the sounds aren't as frequent as those trains my  husband and I used to hear, but they are more frequent than you and I would like.  And there is simply nothing soothing about the sound of sibling arguments. In fact, for me, that sound is one of the most grating and exasperating sounds I hear on a regular basis (other than, "Mom, someone peed all over the floor again").

While my children do have wonderful moments of fair and cooperative playing each day (Praise the Lord!), they do argue and fight often.  And so, I pray frequently to the Lord asking for His wisdom and grace as I parent through argument after argument.

Over the weekend, I spent time at a biblical counseling conference and felt the Lord speak directly to me through one of the speakers regarding this issue of sibling arguing.  The speaker encouraged us to ask ourselves (or our counselees) the following question when we are smack dab in the middle of an argument (justified or not):

Which is most evident: 
the disagreement or my godliness?

A compelling and thought provoking question, isn't it?  I love how it challenges us to look at our arguing from an outside perspective.  And I also love how it doesn't diminish the fact that sometimes arguments are necessary (as in the case of fighting for justice or truth). 

As I thought about this question in regards to my kid's arguing with each other, I saw very clearly that their disagreements are usually exceedingly more evident than their godliness (even in arguments that are necessary). 

So if I may, I'd like to share with you a few reflections God has given me this evening as I spent some time with Him regarding this question and issue of disagreements amongst my kids. 

The definition of godliness in Scripture is simply a devotion to God.  And devotion to God is defined as a wholehearted attachment and loyalty.  It is saying "Yes!" to God and "No!" to our fleshly-selves as well as the world around us.

Therefore our godliness (or devotion to God), when authentic, should therefore be very evident in disagreements with others.  For example, there should be evidences of the fruits of the Spirit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

The following verse gives us more wisdom:  

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these [God's glory and goodness] he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith....godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love."  2 Peter 1:3-4, 5a, 6b, 7

Here's are 4 truths that I believe this Scripture can speak to our children regarding arguing and fighting with their siblings:

1. God's power in our children (who've through faith trusted in Jesus) will give them whatever they need for life and godliness. 

2.  Because of God's glory and goodness they have been given the promise of a Counselor, a Spirit of truth in them and with them always. 

3.  This Spirit of truth will teach them all things (like how to respond to and reconcile arguing), give them peace (as they live life and play with their siblings), and give them strength to escape sin in their arguments (like pride, anger, a vindictive spirit, etc).   [John 14:16-17; 26-27; Romans 8:26] 

4.  Thus, my kids should be making every effort to add to their faith godliness; and to godliness, a warm hearted affection called brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  The outgoing, selfless kind of love that leads one to sacrifice for the good of another (like a sibling).   

Before we officially pray, I'd like to compel you to examine your own arguing.  God spoke very clearly to me in my Spirit that if my children are to trust and live by what God's Word says about their arguing, then I must set an example for them in my own life when it comes to arguing.  I must ask myself:  Is my devotion to God more evident than my disagreements? 

As my children look at my disagreements, what do they see? 

Do they see my godliness when I have disagreements with my husband? 

Do they see my godliness when I have disagreements with their teachers?  

Do they see my godliness when I have disagreements with my pastor or other believers? 

Do they see my godliness when I have disagreements with other family members? 

Do they see my godliness when I have disagreements with another driver on the road?  

Do they see my godliness when I have disagreements with non-believers? 

And finally, do they see my godliness when I have disagreements with them?

I've found myself humbly seeking God's forgiveness this evening because friends, I know my godliness isn't always more evident.  And while I am not called to perfection, I am called to a progressive process of sanctification!  And I gently and lovingly say the same is true for you.  So let's hear and live out the four truths of 2 Peter 1!

It's time, let's pray for our sweet babies and their relationships with each other!

Lord Jesus,

As my children seek You, I see you revealing Yourself to them more and more.  Thank you Jesus that You are a God who longs to know Your children personally.  Thank You for giving them Your Spirit of truth to teach them all things for life and godliness.  And so Lord today I pray that Your words in 2 Peter 1 would begin to reign true in their lives regarding sibling arguing.  Would you reveal Your heart to them in their sibling relationships?  Would you give them peace and the strength to escape sin as they live and play with each other.  And will you help them Lord to add to their faith godliness, a wholehearted detachment and loyalty to You, that motivates them to act with brotherly kindness and selfless love toward one another.