This weekend I listened to a family member discuss a life position that was contrary to my belief. The rest of the family listened politely.
Did I break the silence? Did I position her with an argument? Did I grow defensive? No. My husband and I are not confrontational people. That is not my manner of dealing with people nor part of my personality. Instead I sat and prayed. That's my style of persevering in faith and it works for me. Of course, I did not have a child in the room but had my 17-yr-old daughter been there I would have refocused the discussion down a more amicable path and mentally planned for a personal mother-daughter discussion on the road home. This is my parenting style and it works for my family.
I find that redirecting a conversation is more a win-win situation than arguing has ever proven to be...in families and in the world at large. Catch your debater off guard by using honey and humor. People embrace sweet comedians, they shun argumentive hecklers. Not that I'm good at being a comedian but my husband is and I've learned a little from watching him.
Turn the attention away from yourself and your family's road map and focus on theirs. Seriously! People get defensive if they think you're insisting your road map is better than theirs. You don't have to take home what they say or follow their directions, but being receptive keeps the door of conversion open with more promise than the way an argument slams the door with a swift kick.
Children in the room? Show them you're concerned enough to hear both sides then, when it's you and them one-on-one, explain why your family has chosen the path less traveled. Why did you select this path with the thorns instead of the path that was already cleared? Why did you decide to ride this donkey over the well-fed stallion?
And never...never for a moment...assume that your child will choose the same path. No two paths are ever the same. No two journeys ever look the same.
Home educating, large families have choosen a different path from most of society and, often, it's a rocky road to walk. But it isn't the only path. There are many, many paths. Thank Heavens there are different paths for different believers, for different walks of life, for different strenghts, for different personalities, for different family members.
As long as the destination is clearly the same.
Don't expect family & friends to understand your travel plans. They won't. They won't understand because they are on a different path with different scenery and other travelers and other maps. And, even if you are both on the same path, they might be turning down a different bend in the road, stopping to skip rocks while you move on, or taking a detour that you chose to bypass.
It's like looking up the hill of Calvary. Some people stay at the bottom of the hill looking up in awe and discernment. Some begin to climb the hill, fall and crawl back down...and wait, sometimes for many years. Some go halfway up the hill, grow weary, and stay there. Some climb all the way to the top and drop to their knees before the cross. Others throw their arms around the cross and embrace it passionately. Still others long to cling alongside Christ on the cross.
And Jesus looks down on all these travelers, all these believers. He loves us all. He sees the trials we face in climbing the hill, and He understands. He sees the difficults we are confronted with, and He understands. He sees the weariness with which some of us slide back down the hill, and He waits for us.
Same hill, different paths. We all choose different paths to God. Some choose the easier path while some are prompted to scale the harder. It doesn't mean one path is more correct than another. It doesn't mean one is quicker than another. It doesn't mean one is more sanctifying than another. It doesn't mean one is holier than another.
What is bread for one traveler will be mere manna in the desert for another. Wine offered to one believer will not quench the thirst of another traveler the way mere water will.
As sinners, we must never think we are more worthy of salvation than the rest of our family and friends. Indeed, we are not worthy at all. It is of greater importance and sanctification to turn to our brethren and help them climb the hill of Calvary by lending support and a steady arm rather than focus on, worry about, and barrell ahead down our own chosen path.
Every day I recite my morning offering then tell myself:
"But for the grace and mercy of God go I. But for the grace and mercy of God go I."
Thank God for the grace and mercy of God.