“Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down; you need a break from bickering and griping!” — Proverbs 22:10 (The Message)
As Bri and I were preparing to have kids, we decided that we wanted Christmas to really be about Jesus — and not about Santa and presents and all of the other cultural trappings. What we didn’t account for was the overwhelming pressure of culture during the season. In truth, unless we wanted to go completely off the grid and live out in the wilderness, there was no way we were going go avoid the holiday hubbub.
That means our family goes from the holiness of Christmas Eve to the craziness of ripping open presents, quite literally, overnight. Gifts, in and of themselves, are not bad. Expressions of love through the giving of gifts are not antithetical to a life of faith. But when young kids and Christmas presents get together, trouble is sure to ensue.
This year, it didn’t take long for our girls to descend into that realm of trouble. All it took was for one of them to take an interest in a gift that the other had just received, and the bickering and griping began. Now, I cannot prove it scientifically, but that nerve in my shoulder, the one that had me in the ER last month, well, it is very sensitive to gripes and bickering… so I like to put an end to them right away.
The rule in our house is, “If you fight over it, it disappears.” For instance, if the kids are bickering about who gets to use the Easy Bake Oven, the Easy Bake Oven gets to live in the basement for a while, until the girls can learn to share. When any object, as fun as it may be, becomes a barrier in the way of their relationship as sisters and friends, it has to go. When we get rid of the thing making the trouble, life quiets down.
We all have things that get in-between us and our relationship with God, too. Sometimes, it’s toxic people. Sometimes, they are objects or ideas that we desire more than God. Regardless of the form, the solution to finding peace is the same: get rid of whatever it is that gets in the way. Put it out of your mind. Transform your desire for it or your obsession with them to a focus on the things of God, and see how quickly the bickering and griping go away.
Not trying to make trouble,
Originally published at medium.com on January 4, 2019.