Dedicated to my sister, Bridgit Gallagher-Strachan
A number of years ago, I was at my older sister’s home when a few of her grandkids began to argue with each other. It caught me off guard that, as the exchange slowly escalated, my sister broke in and simply said three words: “House of peace!” To my amazement, the kids didn’t say a word but instead, without hesitation, they turned on their heels and headed straight out to the front porch. With their muffled voices now coming through the outside wall, I quizzically looked at my sister and asked, “What the heck just happened? What is the ‘House of Peace’?”
My sister explained that when the kids were younger she had trained them that her home was a “House of Peace.” It was a home built on a foundation of love, and this meant that everyone in it always had to respect the peace in the home. Clearly, people still get frustrated and angry whether they are family or not because people are people, but when a fight breaks out, if you can’t respect the Rule of Peace, then you must leave the house and take it outside!
Leaving my sister’s, I decided on my way home that I wanted a House of Peace too. It didn’t happen overnight with my kids, but things began to change as we continued to invoke the House of Peace rule. The kids’ behaviors slowly adapted and the contempt, manipulation, and intimidation that so often accompany anger began to leave the home. Heated differences of opinions still happen, but now, to a much greater extent, we don’t fight to win as much as to be understood. There is also a greater sense of mutual respect for one another.
Of course, there are times when we slip and forget the House of Peace rules, but there always comes a point in time when we do remember, and when we do, we seek to quickly restore the peace. Oftentimes this leads us to the four “R’s” of healing relationships: take Responsibility for your behavior; show Remorse if you’ve done wrong; seek to Repair the breach; commit to not Repeat the offense. Having a House of Peace is not something that happens overnight—it takes a commitment and diligent enforcement—but I think you will find it is well worth it.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you the rest of the story about the kids on the porch. Well, they were back in the house in less than five minutes. You see, it was very cold and rainy out there, and I’ve discovered that there is a direct relationship between the weather and the amount of time it takes to resolve a dispute. The colder the temperature and the worse the weather, the faster matters get resolved!
Proverbs 17:1 (NIV)
Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
Luke 10:5 (NIV)
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’