No peace on Peace Day

The Covington News - - Sunday Living -

One of the great­est com­pli­ments I ever re­ceived came from a reader who said that my anec­dotes made her feel more nor­mal. At the time, I won­dered if it even was a com­pli­ment. But the more she talked, the more I un­der­stood that peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate it when I am real with them. So be fore­warned — I’m be­ing real to­day, but just like my face without makeup — the real stuff ain’t al­ways pretty.

My dear friend Tif­fany e-mailed me the other day to tell me that to­day is the In­ter­na­tional Day of Peace. It’s a good thing she men­tioned it, be­cause I’d never heard of it be­fore. Nei­ther had my hus­band. That might have some­thing to do with our col­lec­tive up­bring­ing.

I love our fam­i­lies. Hon­estly, I do. But “peace” isn’t a con­cept ei­ther side of the fam­ily has ever fully em­braced. My hus­band and I try our best to live at peace with every­one, but some peo­ple make it hard to do that. Some even seem un­happy un­less they’re stir­ring up some kind of chaos. I hear that ev­ery fam­ily has a few peo­ple like that.

We sure could use a cease-fire amongst a few of our rel­a­tives. They don’t call them in-laws and out-laws for noth­ing. Most of my and my hus­band’s roots can be traced back to the Bri­tish Isles, and dang if that’s not a crazy lot to de­scend from. If you don’t be­lieve me, go rent the movie “Brave­heart.” That’ll give you a lit­tle glimpse into the kind of folks we’re re­lated to.

The past few months have felt like liv­ing in that scene from “The Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy is walk­ing through the haunted for­est and the tree branches are at­tack­ing her. In our case, it’s the “At­tack of the Fam­ily Trees,” and it’s not com­ing from just one side of the fam­ily. The scrapes and jabs are from all di­rec­tions, and I am tired of it. I just want to click my ruby slip­pers to­gether and go back to a place that is peace­ful and lovely, where I don’t feel I’m un­der as­sault ev­ery­where I go. Ei­ther that, or get a re­ally good set of prun­ing shears.

My friend Kath­leen says that no good deed goes un­pun­ished, and lately it feels like that is true. We’ve helped peo­ple, and got­ten used in re­turn. We’ve ex­tend grace be­yond what we’ve ever ex­tended to any­one be­fore, and all they can say is that it isn’t good enough.

The greater strug­gle isn’t in deal­ing with th­ese dif­fi­cult peo­ple, but in fig­ur­ing out how to ex­plain them to my chil­dren. Like most kids, my sons are as­tute ob­servers of hu­man char­ac­ter. Nei­ther is young enough to be dis­missed with candy-coated ver­sions of the truth, but nei­ther can I bear to share the is­sues be­hind the ar­gu­ments be­cause it’s too much for a lit­tle kid to un­der­stand. Heck, I’m 40 and even I don’t un­der­stand it when adults choose to be­have like hun­gry, nap-de­prived tod­dlers.

My chil­dren sim­ply know that cer­tain peo­ple are miss­ing from their lives. And they don’t know why be­yond my pa­thetic at­tempts to ex­plain that some­times grown-ups don’t get along. I re­as­sure them that no mat­ter what, the adults that have al­ways loved them still love them, but they aren’t able to show it right now be­cause they’re an­gry.

I don’t know what my kids are mak­ing of this. I know I can’t shel­ter them from all pain, but it kills me that we’re stuck in the midst of tur­moil, and try as I might, I can­not make it go away. My hus­band and I both grew up sur­rounded by con­flict, and we never wanted our chil­dren to know what that felt like. Yet, here we are.

To­day I will hug my boys and tell them about a hol­i­day that none of us have heard of be­fore. We will talk about the im­por­tance of peace. And then we’re go­ing to pray to­gether that peace comes to those we know who are choos­ing to em­brace un­for­give­ness in­stead. Hope­fully one day I’ll be able to post an up­date that says it worked.

Be­cause I may have lost a good bit of faith in cer­tain peo­ple, but I will al­ways be­lieve in mir­a­cles.

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