Our Ladies’ Bible Study group is currently working on A Heart Like His by Beth Moore. If you enjoy picking words apart, then Moore is for you; she provides deep understanding of God’s Word. In this blog, I’m going to look at two words that sound alike and which she touches on in A Heart Like His: ‘please’ and ‘appease.’ We will start, however, with a dish of peas.
A Mother’s Mindset
Once upon a time, when I tried to encourage my first daughter to eat green food, a friend gave us a picture book entitled Eat Your Peas by Kes Gray. Short children’s book; big, not-so-subtle hint. The mother in this book would do anything to get her daughter to eat peas: give her ice cream, buy her an elephant, procure a rocket ship from who-knows-where. The message was this: relax, stop trying to make her do something so insignificant. Is it really a big deal if she won’t eat peas? If the mother would eat her Brussel sprouts then her daughter would eat her peas, causing her mother to realize that everyone has food preferences, so they both ate ice cream. And this is how mealtimes should always work with five-year-olds apparently, unless the family orders pizza.
Mealtime was a big deal because I was very isolated and my perspective was far too circumscribed. In my eyes, the problem (which wasn’t a problem until I made it one) might have started with peas but would surely develop into one of general rebellion involving the rejection of all vegetables, bringing home stray dogs, drug-use, and teen pregnancy. Faye was only 2-years-old, but I had the long game in mind and tended towards hysterics. I’m better now.
Maybe she would have eaten those peas (or whatever) if she knew how pleased I would have been. She certainly accepted certain foods and portions of foods at times simply to make me happy or to pacify me if I was in a bad mood. Kids are smart and they know from birth how to win us over. Faye’s 20 now and I’m just grateful she isn’t completely messed up about food and doesn’t do drugs. She has threatened to bring home a lizard during the university break (we’re saying ‘no’), but at least she hasn’t surprised us with a baby. I don’t care anymore if she eats peas.
To appease or pacify is to try and make-up for something, cover it up, or to calm a person down. It’s looking back over something that has already been done and trying to manipulate the person who is rightfully hurt until he or she doesn’t show it anymore because her hurt is uncomfortable to deal with. In French, appease is ‘placare’ which is very close to ‘placate’. The word ‘plaisir’ is French for ‘please’. Similar, aren’t they? ‘Pease’ is derived from ‘peace’ or the Latin ‘pax’ and the prefix ‘a’ denotes ‘to’: to bring peace* (not ‘to bring peas’). Please and appease possess similar origins in the idea of creating peace, but ‘please’ looks forward while ‘appease’ looks back.
Faye wanted peace, so she sometimes ate what I wanted her to in order to prevent trouble and to please me; to promote peace because I could be unreasonable. She was thinking ahead. She was smart, but also a little bit crafty. It’s not always true that I was unreasonable; sometimes she knew an action was bad (pulling the cat’s tail for instance) because she would try to cover-up, then attempt to appease me by being especially good about going to bed or taking her bath without a fuss.
God Doesn’t Care about Peas
I’m pretty certain that God’s interest in the greens we eat or occasionally pulling the cat’s tail is minimal. Why we reject food, our parents’ instructions, abuse our pets, and ignore the Word of God is of greater concern. I hope both of my girls understand what matters to the Lord: their heart positions towards His Son Jesus Christ, not towards the vegetables He created or His various animals. God made spiders and many of us loathe them; does that mean God thinks less of us? I won’t eat lychees, but the fact that they make me think of eyeballs doesn’t kindle the Father’s wrath. He wants us to hate our sin and love His Son.
Back and Forth
Judas Iscariot tried to appease his conscience by giving back the money he was paid to betray Christ. His money was rejected by the chief priests and elders (Matthew 27:3-5). Christ was condemned to be crucified; Judas discarded the coins and committed suicide. He could not bring peace to his heart or undo what had been done.
When Jesus met an adulteress expecting to be stoned, he saved her life and brought her peace. He would appease God on the cross; she would look forward to pleasing Him by acknowledging her sin, repenting, and putting her trust in Christ. We are instructed to take these steps daily and genuinely, with a real love for the Father and Son. We’re going to get in trouble because of sin, but what pleases God is not ‘covering up’ (it wasn’t my fault; the devil made me do it) but owning our mistakes and asking for forgiveness. Again – not looking back but forward.
I hope my girls understand they were not designed nor called to spend their lives appeasing God for His Son’s sacrifice or making amends for sin. Instead, they were designed to please their God and to glorify Him because they are grateful for the cross and they love Christ. Their hearts can’t be stuck in the past if they are going to look up to Him and praise Him as they were designed to do. Furthermore, looking forward will help them to avoid sins that tend to pull them (and all of us) back, away from Jesus.
Peace at the Table
Peas rarely appear at our table; they simply don’t please my family much and I would rather not be sucked into silly arguments about vegetables. That’s not to say food-time is our best time; we have adapted over the years to each other’s assorted quirks. Sometimes that means eating apart, but we have other strengths as a family.