Have you ever thanked God for polyester-blend fabrics? I certainly have! God knew that this momma needed to live in a generation where you do not have to iron everything! (Needless to say, I praise Him often for dry-fit t-shirts in our house full of athletes!) Although at the “Wig Wam” we don’t iron every day, there are still many items that must be pressed before we get dressed. Yes, in three decades of parenting three daughters, I’ve ironed my fair share of our family’s clothes. I’ve ironed out even more of our family’s conflicts. Relationships naturally produce wrinkles, don’t they? And those wrinkles need the supernatural touch of God’s iron-clad truth to smooth out our souls; to press forward unified—to press into Christlikeness.
One big difference between handling our clothes and our conflicts is that usually we find wrinkles that need pressing because we are looking for them. We are planning ahead. Ironing may be a hassle, but usually not stressful. (Unless, of course, it’s a last-minute “throw it on the bed and hit it with the steam iron” situation!)
Conflicts on the other hand are more like car accidents. We don’t plan for them. They take us by surprise. Shake us up. Whether it’s a head-on collision from SUV-sized egos or a fender bender of hurt feelings, our families need a body shop expert rather than a professional dry cleaner to repair what’s broken.
While driving a rental car to visit a church ministry connection in another state, I had a surprise auto collision this summer. Yep. I totally thought I had a protected green light but within seconds my car was totaled and within another long hour it was being towed away. It wasn’t expected. It certainly wasn’t planned or intended. It was truly “an accident.”
The situation became messy immediately. The question of “fault” was imminent. Debated. The other party was quick to blame, to threaten. My soul became as mangled as the rental car–torn between thoughts of lashing out in self-defense or extending God’s forgiving grace. Thankfully, the sheriff appeared and mediated both of us drivers through the accident and insurance reporting process before we each drove off to continue our day.
Sounds similar to family conflict, right? Sometimes I am one of the drivers involved in the conflict. Many times, as mommas, however, we must enter the scene as the Sheriff! Whether it’s marital differences, toddler tantrums, or teenage rebellion that wrinkle our relationships, God’s Word can mediate us through the mess. His truth provides emergency assistance that outshines AAA to help us during our years as God’s Deputy Sheriffs with our children.
With His truths, we can respond and resolve family conflicts more effectively so that our family relationships can get back on God’s highway with greatest speed. Here are three of my favorite heart “settings” for ironing out family conflict.
Ironing out Family Conflict: Know your foe
Ephesians 6:11-12 presents this key fact,
“We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world.”
When it comes to conflict, God makes it clear: Your family member is not your foe. Biblical womanhood understands this truth. This was a game changer for our marriage and parenting! We began teaching our girls two simple truths:
- God’s desire is for family to live as ONE because it reflects the oneness between God the Father and His Son, Jesus. (John 17)
- Our enemy is the devil. He is our foe who is desperately trying to divide God’s families (marriages, friendships, churches etc). Satan is the driving force behind all separation and division. All conflict.
With this understanding, when conflict arises, as a wife or mom I can say, “I am not your enemy. And you are not mine. We do have an enemy and he is trying to divide us. But I am FOR YOU, not against you.” When emotions and reactions heat up, this powerful truth will act like Holy Spirit steam from our irons to smooth out the wrinkles as they arise. From that moment on we can strategize how to fight our common foe (satan and spiritual forces of darkness) together. We can align as allies, not enemies in conflict. It becomes US against THEM, not me against you. We reunite as teammates working together for each other’s good and for God’s glory.
Ironing out Sibling Conflict: Be Peacemakers
As young girls, our daughters memorized Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” When conflicts would arise between siblings, I would simply exhort them with one word, “Peacemakers!”
Doesn’t that sound like an incredibly simple and effectively conflict resolution tool? I thought so—until I overheard an argument stirring. One daughter quickly stated, “Peacemakers!” I beamed with spiritual pride over her “holy” response until I heard her sister snap back “PEACEMAKERS” louder and with a whole lot of sass!
The conflict only escalated as each daughter argued that she was the best “Peacemaker!” (Yep. Another proud parenting highlight for godly motherhood! Another wrinkle to be ironed out—back to the ironing board!) Being a peacemaker requires far more than just saying a word, doesn’t it? Many times it means not saying any words. So with the principles of Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” and James 5:16 “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed,” we imPRESS upon our girls to “Hold your Peace” and “Own YOUR PIECE” when conflict situations emerge.
Ironing out Inner Conflict: You are not your foe
As moms, somedays our greatest conflicts arise not within our homes but within our own hearts. We can become in conflict with ourselves. It’s easy to do because we know all our own failures and shortcomings. We know our own “piece.” The old “I shoulda, coulda, woulda…” thoughts can undermine our souls. When it comes to resolving our inner conflicts, condemnation easily steps in to sabotage our pursuit of moving forward with God’s peace and joy.
When working through the details of the car accident this summer, condemnation slid easily inside the door opened by that conflict. After receiving several threatening texts from the man in the other car, the sheriff’s report was sent to me with the verdict. YOU ARE AT FAULT in this accident. Those words clung to my soul.
Unsettled, I tossed and turned them over in my heart while tossing and turning through the sleepless night following the accident. The next morning as I was getting ready for the day, I asked my heavenly Father “Why do those words sting so deeply?” As I set up the ironing board to press my shirt, I reached for the spray starch only to see in bold letters the brand name: FAULTLESS! I grasped the can as I also grasped the truth God was speaking to my soul. “Kim, the message YOU ARE AT FAULT is in conflict with MY TRUTH of who you are! Because of Jesus, you, precious daughter, are FAULTLESS to me!”
Yes, moms, we can move beyond the conflicts and accidents of each day confident that we have a perfect Adjustor who defends us before the Judge, paid the entire claim for our sin (though we were totally at fault). His full coverage is truly comprehensive. He doesn’t offer us insurance, but His blessed “assurance.” Not guilt, but grace, for…
“…Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for YOU to make YOU holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present YOU to himself as a glorious church without a spot or WRINKLE or any other blemish. Instead, YOU will be holy and FAULTLESS”.
Whether you are ironing clothes or ironing out conflicts this week, may this be the spray starch to smooth out your wrinkled soul: You are not defined by your faultless marriage, children, or conflict resolution skills. You are defined by your FAULTLESS Savior! As we receive His faultless grace, we can extend that same grace to our family when conflicts crash into our days.
In this world we may live on a perpetual “fault-line.” But if we know our foe, hold our peace, own our piece, and hold claim to Christ’s coverage, we can iron out family conflicts with the confidence of Jude 1:24 (AMP)
“Now to Him Who is able…to present you as…blameless and FAULTLESS…in the presence of His glory with triumphant joy and unspeakable delight.” Jude 1:24 AMP
With Him we are able to press through conflict into the joy that is ours through our FAULTLESS Savior!