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Salty Peace

Do you ever get frustrated with others? Sure, we all do. We can want "the best" for our children, our marriage, and for our parents, but often what we want and what they want are in opposition to each other. A son wants to lay around and play video games all day and his father wants him to get a job. An adult daughter wants to get her hair colored pink and get piercings and tattoos and her mother wants her to stay as pure and unblemished as the day she was born. Parents want to impress on their children their concerns, but often those concerns can sound nagging, controlling, and shameful as the parents run out off ways to express their wants. Ultimately, parents lose their temper in frustration which can result in the child running away (physically or emotionally) through self-harming behaviors, with eating disorders, addictions, and cutting. The ultimate form of running away is suicide, a parent's worst nightmare.

I tell parents they have great intentions, but poor approaches. I ask them, "You've heard that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink?" They tell me they are familiar with the saying adding they have no idea HOW to make the horse drink. I explain that what they are doing is like standing behind the horse pushing the horse toward the water. When I ask them what they think the outcome might be, they all say, "I'll get kicked." I tell them that's true. Anyone will "push back" when they don't want to do what another is trying to force them to do.

So, how do you get a horse to drink water? Add salt to their diet. How do you get a child (spouse, parent, friend, etc) to do what you think is best for them? Find out what makes them "thirsty." Examples of this might be that the son loves playing video games and you take him to Silicon Valley where the game developers are. He talks with them, he is energized by their passion, and he gets inspired to become a gamer himself. They tell him the pathway they took (School, job, savings, independence) which are all the things you've been trying to get him to do (external motivation), but now he is wanting what they have (internally motivated). You won't have to nag anymore because he's now thirsty for those things.

The girl who wants tattoos and piercings might get exposed to older women who did all those things in their youth, and who now regret those things as their body changes with age. What was once attractive has now become unattractive, and they can share how those things limited their ability to reach their adult dreams. The girl might change her mind on her own.

There is never a guarantee that even with salt is offered they will consume it. Advice is freely given, and with good intentions, advice can be refused. When that happens, the advice giver must stop trying to influence the one who is not accepting the advice and let them figure it out on their own. There is a saying that experience is a great teacher. Sometimes letting another fail on their own terms is all you can do. Letting go is still an act of love. Real love includes respecting the choices of others even if you don't agree with them.

"17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

Romans 12:17-18

Day 41: Peace

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