Every morning, I curl op on the couch and read with two-year-old Amelia before her morning nap. I treasure these few moments. Not only do I get to memorize large segments of renowned classics such as “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” but I am able to try out all of my “best” voices. Sometimes I even contribute additional sound effects. This usually depends on my morning coffee intake. My audience likes these complimentary add-ins, I think.
This little girl is simply too adorably charming. She is captured by stories, the twists and turns. She always comprehends more than I think her young mind can handle. Her facial expressions when the wolf chomps up the Gingerbread Man or Cinderella marries Prince Charming are endearing. An aside: For the past few weeks, she’s been walking around saying, “I marry you, Rissa.” She scours for beaded necklaces in her toy bin (I’m not sure when they replaced rings) and requests that we dance. Then, we’re deemed “married.”
Before I tell a thousand more stories about this darling girl, I will write about one particular thing she has been doing. This one thing has got me thinking.
Yes, we still read “The Grinch” in the summertime. I would vouch to say it’s her favorite book. Recently, she’s also been pulling “Jack and the Beanstalk” off the shelf. Some of the current library books include “Edward in the Jungle” and “999 Tadpoles.” They’re all cute reads. Ah, ok… they “were” cute first few times we read them. Now, I have developed an aversion. Like I said, I’ve memorized much of Dr. Suess’ Christmas story. Too much is too much, but I continue to fake enthusiasm. We read these books time and again. And at the close of every story, Amelia does something peculiar. Thumbing backwards through the book with her little fingers, she asserts, “I want this page again.” These are the precise pages she chooses…
-His little reindeer dog, Max, and the Grinch are on the verge of slipping off the snowy cliff in their ramshackle sleigh.
-The giant is chasing Jack down the beanstalk after Jack has obsconded the harp.
-Edward is about to be gobbled up by a crocodile in the make-believe jungle behind his family’s farm.
-A slew of the baby frogs have innocently hopped onto a sleeping snake. Father frog is wide-eyed in the distance, about to lose his marbles.
Are you sensing the theme? She chooses that particular point in the story where the conflict has hit its height. I suppose these are the conflicts. Maybe they are the climaxes. I used to have to make those story line plots in English classes. It’s been years and I probably need a refresher. Either way, Mia always wants to go to the page that makes her put her hands over her eyes. She peers through her fingers as I re-read.
Conflict. Conflict breeds excitement. Whether that excitement is pleasurable or detestable, it is sure to make life intriguing and the blood pumping.
We see it in movies and read about it in books. We observe it in our communities. We, ourselves live through it.
Without conflict, our world would be dull. Our lives would now breed great boredom.
Much conflict is wished and prayed away, rightfully so. Most of it is harder than hard. Sickness, financial instability, and relationship dilemmas are never sought after.
I wish conflict away. I avoid it at all costs. In the second grade, my teacher named me the peace maker of the class. This is a seemingly honorable quality. In the same respect, it’s gotten me into a bit of trouble. Throughout my life, I’ve seen a pattern. Since my note-passing days in elementary school, keeping peace has still been high on my daily agenda. And it’s more than keeping peace with my girlfriends. I admit that I do my best to avoid conflict. When it somehow finds its way into my life…in whatever fashion, I dismiss it. I pretend it’s not there. I walk out the door, purchase a cup of coffee, and force myself to be side-tracked by indulging in a new book. I wish it away…
Problems come and go. The good Lord gives and takes away. And He urges us to remain thankful through it all. Even so, my thankful state has become a guise for avoidance.
The devil sneaks in, but we ought to remain strong in faith. Even if we must put our hands over our faces, we need to turn to that page, reading through the scary predicaments. He has things to teach us. What if we “truly lived” through conflict? What if we truly dealt with it in the way He would have us? What if we sucked every morsel of knowledge and truth, unafraid of disturbing the littlest remaining peace?
I am going to out out on a limb and a branch and say that it could bring immeasurably more peace. In sweeping the problems in my life under the rug, I miss out on a lot.
I want to face them and live a meaningful, rich story…even better than those in the story books. I’m not saying I want to particularly love hard times. I just want to tackle them well. Conflict produces refinement.
And we know the truth. In all things, we take heart. He has indeed overcome the world. We can do all things THROUGH HIM who strengthens us, who never leaves or forsakes us.