God gives peace to the heart

By Joan Clayton: PNT Columnist

Christmas getting closer led to tempers getting shorter. My days became a frenzy of trying to accomplish tasks in one week that normally take a month.

“I just need one more thing to do. Let me out at that store for just a minute. I’ll be right back.”

My husband drove on to find a parking place (I thought) as I rushed inside the store shivering and glad to get out of the cold.

When I returned, Emmitt had vanished. I didn’t see our car anywhere.

“Now what? Of all the things I have to do…where is he? He makes me so mad at times I could bite nails!”

My anger rose higher and higher and I felt the “silent treatment” coming on. Just then I caught a quick glimpse of him entering the post office a block away.

“Was asking him to wait too much? Just wait until I tell him off … the nerve, leaving me trembling in this frigid air.”

(I could have gone back into the store, but if I did, he wouldn’t get to see me shaking from the freezing temperatures.)

When Emmitt finally came to pick me up, my emotions had come to the boiling point.

Before I could get in my first blow, he started railing at me for not waiting inside the store, and nothing upsets me more than that tone of voice.

All of my rebuttals, all of my defensive tactics ran madly through my mind.

“I will let him have it any minute now.”

So why didn’t I? Somehow I couldn’t say what I wanted to say. In my heart I wanted to give him the old “what for!” And then boy! I’ll let him have it for the rest of the day, but something inside me kept saying, “No! Don’t do that. Keep the peace!”

“This is Christmas,” I thought. “It’s all about the Prince of Peace. Here I am scrambling in a stew … hurrying … dashing … rushing. The stress of preparing for the holidays is surely robbing me of peace.

In the midst of the turmoil, that “still small voice” seemed to say, “You are missing the most important part of Christmas: the coming of the Savior. It’s about the “Good News! Joy to the Word!”

It dawned on me. “It doesn’t matter if the pies are not in the freezer. It isn’t worth having the last word in an argument if it’s going to stifle the joy and love of the Christmas season.”

I surprised myself. I made a conscious decision not to retaliate. I was proud and amazed that I could. I know it came from a silent prayer asking God to help me lay aside my feelings. After all, I chose to wait in the cold. (Although Emmitt really didn’t tell me he was going to the post office … as he claimed he did.)

That night as I closed my eyes, I prayed, “Lord, I thank you for helping me keep the peace. Most of all, I thank you for the Prince of Peace. But Lord, if my husband was wrong, please show him.”

About two a.m. that morning, I was awakened by my husband’s whispers:

“I’m so sorry, Honey. Please forgive me. I just had a dream and I heard myself saying what I said to you. I didn’t tell you I was going to the post office. I also heard my tone of voice. I should not have talked to you like that. I was wrong. I love you more than life itself. You are all I think of day and night. Please forgive me!”

Of course I forgave him. God not only answered my prayer but also tucked in a great blessing that has happened every night since. The whispers still come. Several years have come and gone since that night, but Emmitt is still whispering in my ear, “I love you!”

That’s when I thank God all over again for being “The Real Peacemaker.”