Have your kids ever hurt your feelings? I don’t mean their critique of your clothes, cooking, or stupid jokes. I mean the thing they say that just cuts to the quick.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my boys said something and it hurt so much, it felt like the wind was knocked out of me. He’s young enough where I don’t think the words were said with the intention to hurt, and he was oblivious to how hurtful his words were. But I am not naïve. I know a day will come when my boys will know the power of their words. And then they’ll use those words to cause pain on purpose.

Family is messy. At this stage, most messes come in the form of food under the kitchen table, diapers in a full diaper genie, and endless leaves, rocks, and flowers filling my counters. But at some point, I know the messiness will come in the form of verbal shrapnel. I know the messiness will be less literal and more figurative. (Or maybe with two teenage boys by that time, it’ll be both.)

And I knew from a couple of weeks ago, when the words from one of my kids hit me like they did, that I had better figure out what I was going to do when those moments come.

At the time, I shut down. I got him ready for bed and I read him books. I was present physically, but emotionally distant. But when it was time to pray, to sing, and close up the night, I realized something had to give. He may not have known I was holding back, but I did. And I decided then and there to do what felt like the exact opposite of what I wanted to do.

I decided to move close. To not let careless words create a rift. To not let hurt feelings dictate my behavior towards him. To move towards the one I felt inclined to back away from.

I decided to be a peacemaker. To be a mender of things made wrong—even when I was the one who had been wronged. To move past what had been broken in me, in order to make right what was broken between my son and me.

Not just a peace-liker. Not simply a peace-supporter. But a peace-maker

Jesus said peacemakers are called the children of God.
James, the brother of Jesus, said peacemakers reap a harvest of righteousness.
I say peacemakers have a better chance of a healthy relationship with their kids in the future.

Making peace is hard. Moving towards the one who’s hurt us is challenging. It’s counterintuitive and not all fair at times. But a parent who makes peace with their kids now sows a relationship of peace in the future. And at the end of the day, that’s my goal.