"If he would have just done what I wanted, we wouldn't have had a fight."
Norah said this during the course of a very long conversation she and I were having about a conflict she had with a friend of hers. I almost laughed out loud at what she said. It was just so honest.
"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Do they not come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God..."
Norah has a hard time letting her friends have their own way. She wanted her friend to come play on the castle. He wanted to play where he was already playing. She wouldn't give in and play with him where he wanted to play or leave him there and go play on the castle without him. So, she kept pushing and as a result, he ran away from her. She kept following him because she wanted to play with him and he kept running away, so her feelings got hurt because, "He's running away from me!"
I saw myself within her then. How often have I pushed her dad to do something he isn't doing or to be someone he isn't being only to have him get upset and defensive and then hurt my feelings. Then I have my feelings hurt over something that I started. But, I can't see that I'm responsible for the conflict at all, because, after all, Dwayne should do this or that or he should be this or that. It felt like I was talking to myself when I told Norah to "Just leave him alone." Things go much better when I just leave my husband to God. Norah started trying to force her friend to be a better friend. How often have I tried to force my husband to a better husband? Too many times to count.
"Do to others as you would have them do unto you..."
Norah seems to have a good understanding that her friends have a responsibility to play nice with her, but doesn't understand that she has the same responsibility to play nice with them. And, how often that's true for us, too. We adults have a conflict with someone and we say it's because they did this or that. We won't (or even can't) own up to how badly we've treated them because their responsibility in the conflict is always so much bigger than ours. Isn't it, though? Norah thought her friend should have been a better friend to her. She didn't even see how she could have been a better friend to him. How she should have let him choose what he wanted to do and whether or not he even wanted to play with her at all. So, we talked about this.
"Consider others before yourself. Each of you should not only look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others..."
And, once she finally realized her part in the whole thing, Norah said, "I did the best I could. I was the best friend I could be today." and she started to cry because she was broken over the fact that she was selfish and she wasn't the friend she should be, etc.
I told her, "I know. You're going to be learning how to be a good friend your whole life." and when I said this, my mind went to one or two unresolved conflicts I have with friends right now. I'm still learning how to be a good friend, too. And, I am not blameless in those conflicts, but of course, I'd still rather think about how much my friends are to blame.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? ...First, take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck in your brother's eye."
It seems like I am constantly talking to Norah about the subtle "rules" of friendship, like if your friend is hurt and runs away in tears, you should go after them and make sure they are okay, but if your friend is angry and runs away in a fuss, you should probably let them have their space, at least for a while...
And, all this is starting when I thought parenting Norah was going to be "easier" because she's finally capable of pouring her own breakfast cereal or cleaning her own room. It seems like the real "work" of parenting is only beginning.
And, I realize I can't teach Norah to be the person I am not. I can't just recite truths about friendship that I haven't really owned. So, my prayer now is, "Lord, help me to be a better person!" Because that's the only way I can be a better parent.