My husband likes peace and quiet, especially after a day of work. Just before he came home last week, I realized how things at home would strike him. Lots of lights were on, the washer and dryer were both going, I had water running as I did dishes, the kids were shouting (happy shouting) back and forth about something, running up and down the stairs, and Cantata 140 was blaring so that I could hear it wherever I went in the house.
Peace and quiet are so connected to each other in our vocabulary and our thinking that it is difficult to think about them separately. In our home that afternoon, we had peace – there was no strife, no fighting, no anger, no crying! (It’s not like that all the time…) People were at peace with each other; we were just loud and active. Peace? Yes. Quiet? No.
As a mom, it is easy to feel like things are never peaceful, because life with children doesn’t look like a Thomas Kinkade painting or sound like a lullaby. Our ideas of peace are so shaped by cultural ideas of eastern meditation, quiet lakes at sunrise, and sleeping babies, that we unconsciously connect peace with inactivity.
This is not how Scripture pictures peace. The scenes connected with peace in the Bible are ones where people are free from oppression and conflict and so are enabled to be incredibly fruitful (ex. 13:5; Deut. 6:3; 2 Chron. 14:6; Is. 66:20; 1 Kings 4:24 ff.; Ez. 34:25) and scenes connected with a lack of peace are the opposite (Is. 7:23; Jer. 12:12). In a peaceful country, people can farm, get educations, use their creativity, serve their communities, worship, etc. People can’t do those things easily or at all where there is conflict and oppression. In a peaceful home, people can play creatively, do homework, make supper, have useful conversations, read good books together, etc. People can’t do those things where there is conflict or oppression. Neither of these national or domestic ideas of peace are inactivity or mindless rest; they are models of happy productivity that is the fruit of peace.
That doesn’t mean that we should not try and achieve some sort of peace and quiet for our husbands and others, if that is what they like. I turned off the cantata. I did what I could to make things quieter so that he was able to enjoy peace after a day of work. But as mothers, we rarely get peace and quiet. Let’s work towards, pray for, and be thankful for peace. That’s when we’ll really be fruitful and productive. At some point, we might get some moments of quiet, too.