Seeking Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario and Saskatchewan. This week’s column addresses the home in light of the horrific events of last week in Connecticut.

I’m not really happy with it. I was upset when I wrote it, which may explain part of it. But I think my answer is inadequate. The fact is this world is filled with brokenness. And I believe it’s getting worse. For years we lived on the residual benefits of our Christian heritage, but now we’ve got barely fumes of it. That’s not enough.

And the problem is that I don’t think you can have true healing from brokenness or pain apart from God. I can’t say that in a secular column, but that’s what’s missing here. There are no answers to the pain in this world except for people coming back to God and letting Him heal the brokenness. We need to pray harder and maybe we will see God work!

The message of the Christmas season is supposed to be “Peace on Earth”, yet there are years when that message seems especially anachronistic. This would be one such year. How can we reconcile the Christmas spirit with the abject horror of a gunman shooting up a class of six and seven-year-olds in Newtown?

My daughter said to me, “at least shootings don’t happen here,” referring to small town Canada. But shootings like this do happen in small towns because they have nothing to do with the crime rate of big cities and much to do with the pain inside the home. This week has brought renewed calls for gun control and increased security, and there very well may be merit in these proposals. But the problem is not primarily a safety one; it’s a heart one. We are creating a society of hurt, angry, warped individuals.

We don’t know all the details about the shooter, but I have yet to hear of a mass murderer who came from an intact, functional family. Even those who are mentally ill rarely act out unless it is combined with deep wounds at home. That does not mean that all people from broken or dysfunctional homes will turn out badly; I’m a child of divorce, and I like to think that I’m quite emotionally well-adjusted, thank you very much. But there is no denying that family instability is the root cause of much childhood emotional trauma. The Longevity Project, which followed thousands of people for decades, found that divorce of parents is harder on a child than the death of a parent.

That’s not polite to say, because we don’t want to make people feel badly. But I am sick of tiptoeing around certain unpleasant realities. Some marriages, of course, can’t be saved. Abusive homes are more damaging than divorced ones. But if a split has happened, let’s work even harder at helping our kids feel cherished and whole. Whether divorced or married, let’s focus on their needs, not our wants.

We are raising a generation of kids who are lost. So many are missing a parent. They spend more time on video games than they do with responsible adults. They live solitary lives on the internet. They’re looking for an outlet for the pain.

But once we’ve caused that pain, it’s either going to be dealt with in a healthy manner or it’s going to be turned inward or outward. When it’s turned outward, no amount of locks or gun control is going to rescue us.

There is no solution other than to start loving each other. Honour your commitments. Think of others first. Be nice.

Above all, do not get so caught up in your own angst that you ignore your kids’ needs. And if your relationship with your children’s other parent is already disrupted, do what you can to live in peace with your ex anyway. Let peace reign.

Dayspring Peace Mug

Peace isn’t something that you can magically find by putting up the right Christmas lights or cooking a great turkey or watching a Christmas special. It’s a matter of the heart. It’s a feeling that you have done the right thing. It’s the relief of making peace with your past. It’s not shoving problems under the rug; it’s acknowledging them, confronting the pain, and then deciding to move forward together.

And so, my readers, I wish you Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to all, in whatever tradition you celebrate. Hug those you love even harder this year. Do the right thing, and love one another, and we, too, can create peace in our homes. Indeed, that is the only way we will ever have peace outside of them.

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  1. Ashley@marriedlane says:

    I would rather read 10 more articles like this one than another one about gun control with relation to the shooting. I think you hit the nail on the head – this is an issue of the heart. As someone currently dealing with the pending divorce of my parents, (whose marriage, thankfully, didn’t fall apart until me and my siblings were grown and married ourselves) I couldn’t agree more with your comments. Children need two parents, and when they don’t have that problems arise. Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement.

  2. Sheila, so very, very well said! As a church and nation, may God wake us up to the reality of our sin, and sicken us to it, bringing us to repentance.

    In the midst of this, Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  3. Thank you for this – very well said. It is definitely a heart issue. Collectively, we need to respect the value of human life. My step mother was murdered when I was a teen. Her killer came from an intact home. He pleaded insanity, citing media/game exposure. It didn’t work, but the fact that the hot shot lawyer thought it was a viable defense is concerning. I’m not saying that every game player is going to kill someone, but when you combine the desensitizing that comes with repeated media exposure with a broken heart and/or an unstable mind, it’s just asking for trouble. Where do you think the guy in the movie theatre got the idea for his killing spree? It really is sickening. My heart breaks for the families of last week’s two tragedies (and the others before then) – their lives will never be the same again.

  4. Scripture speaks to the evil in the world, Christians must understand that this life is a battle and our Savior has won the war while the battle continues. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

  5. Sandy in Los Angeles says:

    I think you did an excellent handling the subject matter considering the constraints you had. Very well said.

  6. “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…”

    Thank you Sheila for being a light in this dark world! Every seed you plant for a successful marriage, builds a better and hopefully brighter future for our children.

  7. Michelle S. says:

    Well-written and I agree with you. Your last two sentences are spot on. Loved that. May God bless us all and heal those who are hurting. May He move our hearts closer to Him. Merry Christmas.

  8. Off topic: In the email sent out with this column, there is a picture of you with the “Family Thought for the Week” where you are wearing a blue top. I love this picture!!! You look really great in it. (I couldn’t find it anywhere to comment.)

  9. Another excellent column. Thank you. :)

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