Sometimes it’s hard to pick and choose our family battles. Consider the five-year old son who wants to wear grandma’s clip-on earrings to the grocery store (along with one of her purses), the husband who uses the bedroom floor as a hamper, or the teen that doesn’t do laundry or wash dishes when asked. Deciding where to focus our attention and energy on a day-to-day basis can prove draining. So, exactly how to do you pick your battles and reserve energy for the truly critical battles in life? Here is my take.
• Reserve your battles for truly important issues. Compromise when you can.
• Develop a spirit of acceptance when other’s ideas are not the same as yours. No need to go to battle on every conflicting point of view.
• Battles that don’t enable harmful behavior, are not worthy of your energy. So you tripped over the kids’ shoes in the doorway, why not just move them?
• When you can’t neutralize the battle, retreat. Sometimes it is wiser to do nothing.
• Understand that some choices aren’t right or wrong, but a matter of personal preference. (Like the five-year son old wearing grandma’s earring to the grocery store).
• Battles that compete with core values are worth the effort. For me, cheating, lying, infidelity, stealing, underage drinking, and disrespectful behavior compete with my family’s core values.
• Don’t back away from entitlement versus earned privileges battles. If a child believes they are entitled to a cell phone without earning the privilege of ownership, it’s a battle worth fighting.
• Don’t pull up things that aren’t really weeds. There are more valuable ways to spend your time.
• If it won’t matter 10 years from now, don’t go to battle. The lawn didn’t get mowed, someone didn’t take out trash, the laundry didn’t get done, or a special memento got broken by one of the kids; let it go. There are bigger battles to be fought.
•If the only importance of a battle is being right (your pride), reserve your energy.
When a battle does ensue, challenge yourself to sit with your feelings before charging onto the field. This time out session gives opportunity to weigh the relative importance of the battle and minimize any internal drama that might contribute to a bigger than life situation.
Rest assured family battles can turn into a full blown war. That is the time to call on the Lord to fight the battle for us. Our only option in warfare situation is to cast our cares and worries on Jesus and humbles ourselves in prayer. When the course of your family life is at risk due to continual rebellion, drug use, promiscuous behavior or uncontrollable anger, it’s time to call in the heavenly troops.
Our family wars are all different, but one thing is certain, when you are unable to navigate the battlefield without serious risk of casualties; it’s time to seek divine intervention in your battle plan. Be sure you have created a soft place to fall when life doesn’t go according to plan. A place to recharge, regroup and encourage before the next round of family conflict, differences and friction.
We all have family battles. Pick your battles wisely and learn when to call a truce and wave a flag of surrender.
“The righteous cry out (in prayer), and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
I Peter 5:7