Friday, December 7, 2012

Book Review: The Peacemaker

It has been said that Alzheimer's brings out the best and the worst in people. Often I read on Alzheimer's blogs about conflict between family members about care for elderly parents. People in many caregiving situations read this blog and so this issue may come up in families who are seeing both the best and the worst in one another.

I am in my final classes for a seminary counseling degree and one of the required reading books, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, had a very insightful story. Now this scenario in the book I am quoting in no way parallels my situation, but is illustrative of both the best and worst in people and how Scripture and wise counsel can help the Christians who face such caregiving decisions. Ken Sande writes:

When a person earnestly pursues the conciliation responses to conflict, there is a greater likelihood that he or she will eventually see reconciliation. . . . The different responses to conflict and their association dynamics were dramatically revealed in the first family conflict I conciliated. I was asked to help seven adult brothers and sisters settle a guardianship dispute over whether they should keep their elderly mother in her home or place her in a retirement center. Five of the siblings were doing all they could to escape from the situation, either  by pretending that a conflict did not exist or by refusing to meet with the others to talk about it. The other two attacked each other intensely and frequently, slandering one another to family and friends and fighting in court to obtain control through legal guardianship.
The first step in resolving the dispute was to help the parties change the way they had been responding to the situation. The five siblings who had been trying to escape from the problem quickly saw the benefits of mediation and agreed to meet together. The other two sisters grudgingly consented to mediation, but they continued to attack each other during our meetings, accusing each other of improper motives and demanding opposing solutions. Our investment of time and energy was producing no results, and relationships were suffering further damage.
I finally asked to talk with the two sisters in private to help them discuss the personal offenses that were obviously fueling their quarrel. Putting the guardianship issue aside for a moment, I helped them to examine their attitudes and behavior toward each other. As we studied a few relevant Bible passages, the Lord began to work in their hearts. After about thirty minutes, the real cause of the conflict finally came to the surface.  Almost twenty years earlier, one of the women had said something that deeply hurt the other one. The offended sister had tried to pretend that she was not hurt, but she could not help brooding over the insult and their relationship was steadily poisoned. Consequently, they opposed each other in everything, even if it involved their mother’s care. 
As we continued to talk about their relationship, they began to deal honestly with their feelings and actions. They saw how they had been dishonoring God and hurting other people. As God opened their hearts, they confessed their sins and forgave each other. With tears in their eyes, they embraced each other for the first time in twenty years. They soon joined their brothers and sister and explained what had happened. Within five minutes, all seven children agreed that their mother would be happier in her own home, and in another fifteen minutes they negotiated a schedule for her care.  As you can imagine, when they told her the news that evening, the reconciliation of her children brought her even more joy than the  decision about her living arrangement (pp. 23, 24).
Now mediation with someone else might be needed with placement of an Alzheimer's loved one. We can grow in grace and in the knowledge of our faith in the process. The LORD doesn't waste any of our trials, and unless we choose to become bitter and discouraged, He will be there and turn our sorrows into joy and perhaps through mediation and of course through meditation on His Word.

I have loved the process of taking my seminary counseling classes since 2006 and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. One project was my book, Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill. Other papers have been on a topic related to Alzheimer's. I will be starting the dissertation some time in 2013, LORD willing. It has been suggested that I write my dissertation on being an Alzheimer's caregiver. 150 pages! Oh no! More stress on top of being a caregiver and on top of reorganizing the home for caregiving! However, with reading such wonderful resources as The Peacemaker there will be much to share in that dissertation.

Get the book, folks. Such help for all kinds of thorny issues.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful book! I also have the one for women but I can't think of the title (Peacemaking for women?).