As much as it is possible… — By Erica Steffen

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“If it is possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18

I was 13, and I all I wanted was make one girl in my class be my friend. I was 17, and I was frustrated with a person who I had found it challenging to live peaceably with. I was 21, newly married, and I couldn’t figure out make my husband see my side of a disagreement we were having. I was 26, a tired mom with a newborn, and I didn’t know how to set boundaries in a particularly challenging relationship within my family. I am 29, and I still am learning how to let go.

A high school social studies teacher once advised me with this, “Control what you can control, and let God do the rest.”

At seventeen, I may have been too young and immature to really learn wisdom from these words, but God has challenged me repeatedly with this advice. The concept shows up in this verse, “…as much as lieth in you…” It’s up to us to control our response to a person or situation where peace needs to be restored. We are called to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14b), and that should not be dependent on how another person may respond to your desire for peace with them.

Thankfully, most of my efforts to seek peace have been fruitful, but some of them have not. It’s hard. I won’t deny how much I can struggle with the rejection I have felt due to unrequited reconciliation. But with the grace of God and remembering that it is not up to me to control their response, it gets a little easier. I tend to focus on what I can do to make them change their mind in how they respond to me. However, I need to be more focused on my response being humble, loving, and open to peaceful resolution-whenever, if ever, it happens.

The Apostle Paul’s use of “if” in this verse seem to recognize that there may be people or circumstances in our lives that we may not be able to achieve total peace with. This may seem like a discouraging thought, and if we become bitter or do not forgive in our hearts, we are bound with heavy chains that take our peace away.

Yet, our peace is not dependent on another, but rather it is our choice to respond in love and with pure intentions of amity.

Once we claim responsibility over our own actions and responsibilities within relationships and cede control of the other person(s)’s response to God’s capable hands, we free ourselves from having to “fix’ the person or situation. There may never be full resolution and peace with whatever we struggle with, but we can, by God’s grace make peace in our heart and mind.

So, strive, dear Sister, to live peaceably with all, and when peace seems elusive, choose to keep pursuing it in your heart, mind and actions. I feel very convicted writing this as I still struggle with this, but I hope you can be encouraged to keep looking UP to where our help comes.

I have found the book, Boundaries, to be a great guide to helping me practically evaluate my response to every relationship that I am in and help me to understand my role in keeping it as healthy as possible. It was recommended to me by one of the counselors at Apostolic Christian Counseling and Family Services when I was struggling in a relationship with a person who I had found (and continue to find) challenging to live peaceably. I hope it can be a help to you.

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Erica lives with her husband David in Congerville, IL with their three children: Josiah (5), Jonan (3), and Emily (16 months). They enjoy traveling together (with and without kids), as well as a mutual love of history, cultures and food (and of course, each other). ?  Erica is also a co-editor for the Titus 2 Ministries Newsletter.*  It’s a busy season of life with three young children, but though the days may be long, these precious years are short! To God be the Glory!

 

 

*{Titus 2 Ministries is a digital newsletter that goes out quarterly, to encourage and uplift busy women. You can find out more info or add your name to the newsletter list by emailing editor.titus2@gmail.com}

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