Some people can be difficult to live at peace with. To live peaceably and in harmony requires each person to do the work on themselves.
Some people are like bottomless holes. You give and give, and they take and take. They raise a storm, and you’re expected to bring peace.
Instead of taking self-responsibility, they blame and shame. They make others a scapegoat for their failings.
I know of someone who would do everything they could to try and please their angry husband, but nothing seemed to satisfy. It was an endless giving out.
Eventually, she realized that nothing she did would bring perfect peace and harmony. That he was responsible for his own life and the war raging within himself.
Live at peace
So often we think we need to serve others to the point of sacrifice. That it’s our job to fix other’s problems. That we are to ‘turn the other cheek,’ ‘go the extra mile,’ and give them the shirt of our back.
Living at peace with some people is near impossible because some people are difficult and they are not at peace within themselves.
Whatever you do, it won’t be enough.
For harmony to exist, all parties need to be in tune.
Tuning the guitar
Once I was playing my guitar with a group of others, and someone said to me, ‘I think you’re out of tune.’
I played a chord, and sure enough, one of my strings was not in perfect pitch. It was out of tune. That single string was destroying the beauty of the music.
I quickly tuned the string and got back to the music.
If you’re an experienced musician, you can quickly tell if someone is out of tune.
All the other strings may be at the right pitch, but if one string is not at the correct tension, at the perfect pitch, then it will ruin the music. There will be no beautiful music. No harmony.
If guitar strings were people, they might well say to that out of tune string ‘You’re out of tune, and you need to do something about it.’
You cant tune yourself, but in submission, to God, the strings can be tightened or loosened. Once it is in perfect pitch, then beautiful harmonious music can be played and enjoyed by all.
As far as it depends on you
Paul, in Romans 12, writes these words.
If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18
You can only do so much to live peaceably with others. They need to do their bit too. They need to be willing to be tuned by God.
You may love them deeply and want to make their life better, but their life is their responsibility.
You can only do so much. You can’t meet their every need.
It may not even be possible to live peaceably with some. Paul points to this when he says, ‘If it is possible.’ Some people are going to remain ‘out of tune.’
Living with ‘out of tune’ people
- Keep in-tune yourself
Recognize that you also are out of tune in some way much of the time, so you need to submit your life routinely to God for tuning. By doing so, you are leading by example.
- Find a corner of a rooftop
At times that difficult person can wear down on you, like a dripping tap, so much so that you need a physical place of relief.
Proverbs tells us that it is ‘Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.’ Proverbs 21:9Find a place where you can recover and pray.
- Don’t rescue
There are natural consequences for bad behavior. What you sow you reap. Don’t rescue people from the mess they have created.
If you rescue them, how will they learn?
- Serenity prayer
Pray the serenity prayer regularly.God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Grow in internal strength where you can express your boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not.
Learn about the lines of love and respect.
- Detach and let them go
There are times we need to let the difficult person go. Much like the father did with his difficult prodigal son, he let him follow his folly.
- Leave the miracles up to God
God is in hot pursuit of your difficult person. The beautiful poem ‘The Hound of Heaven’ speaks to this loving pursuit.You can only do what you can do, leave the miracles up to God.
We all have difficult people in our lives, but with prayer, patience, and staying in the zone of what we can do, we can find a way through.
Quotes to consider
- Before you speak of peace, you must first have it in your heart. St. Francis of Assisi
- Surrendering the outcomes is making peace with our lack of control over how people respond to us and our work. Rob Bell
- Acceptance doesn’t mean complacency or giving up. We can accept something while at the same time trying to make it better. Rick Hanson
- There is no intimacy without honesty. Genuine love does not want ‘peace at any price,’ but will ‘rock the boat’ when honesty is being compromised. D. Riddell
- We get in trouble whenever we forget that God never gave us the power or the right to change anyone. That is His job! Michael Liimatta
Questions to answer
- Who are you trying to live at peace with?
- Where does responsibility for the other start and end?
- How do you keep yourself in tune?