Hello. It’s me.
I’m doing this again.
Mostly because I’m tired. In a lot of ways. I’m physically tired, which leads to extra thinking and less filtering. Emotionally tired of waking up or going to bed to tragedy. Mentally tired of figuring out my thought processes while weaving through webs of everyone else’s already publicized thought processes. Spiritually tired of darkness that seems to grow larger every day.
And now, after so many repeated tragedies, I’m tired of being a peacekeeper.
I’m tired of being the middle child who’s learned to skillfully dance on eggshells so everyone feels supported and comfortable at the same time.
I’m tired of being the one who’s always grabbing the pot off the burner before it boils over and makes a huge mess.
I’m willing to make a mess. I’m willing to get it wrong or crush a few eggshells…because honestly, maybe my silence and apathy and ignorance is getting it more wrong than anything I may actually say.
Jesus never told me to be a peacekeeper.
Maybe I thought he did, but in reality, he talks way more about the peacemakers.
We’re meant to make peace…and that is a hell of a lot different from keeping it. Namely because peacemaking recognizes something peacekeeping refuses to: a lack of peace.
I’m still learning what being a peacemaker looks like. But here are some places I think we could all start.
Step One: Recognize the lack of peace and your own role in that.
For a lot of my life, I’ve been blind to my privilege and because of that, have dismissed other people’s experiences and realities. I’m a privileged white girl and I’m still learning how to see. And learning how to see means getting new perspectives. Perspectives that aren’t other privileged white girls.
There’s a serious lack of peace in the world today. How are you responding to it? Are you walking away in fear and creating a greater void, or are we stepping into that void to listen, grow, and see the gap close a bit more?
Step Two: Pray for peace, but also recognize that you yourself are a big part of the answer to that prayer.
Seriously, sometimes I feel like people pray for peace (including myself) and expect God to drop some holy peace vibes from the sky that will shock us into living out of love and singing around campfires together. Spoiler alert, he’s not sending holy peace vibes. He’s sending you.
Yes, you there, calling yourself a Christian, you have the spirit of God in you and that spirit of God is a spirit of Peace.
When we are desperately crying out for peace, I sometimes wonder if God’s whispering back to us “I’ve already given it to you, you’re just not doing anything with it.”
So, you know, pray for peace. Hashtag that ish for all I care. But also remember to get off your ass and take that spirit of Peace that’s living in you to the places and people you tend to avoid.
Step Three: Have some real conversations, and listen for the sake of listening
Look, I’m not a fan of hard conversations, and I don’t like people feeling uncomfortable, and honestly – more than 50% of the time I’m listening to you, I’m listening simply to have a chance to respond. I have an inkling that the same’s true for at least a few of you reading this.
So, let’s all take a deep breath and get the hell over it.
Peacekeeping looks like dancing around the hard stuff to keep it cozy. Peacemaking means letting some things get broken and messy before they get put back together.
Some of the hardest conversations I’ve had are the ones where someone calls out my blind spots. None of us want to know we’re blind. One I will always remember took place in an after school program. I was talking to a student about what he wanted to be when he grew up and he was having a hard time thinking of things. I started listing off the things I dreamed of being when I was his age. And then, this 7-year-old precious little one said to me, “Well, that’s because you’re white.” I tried to tell him that it didn’t matter, but he just shook his head and said “Yeah it does.”
From then on, I started trying to listen more purely.
Not listening so that I could form my opinion and share it.
Not listening so that I could argue back.
Not listening where I was just waiting my turn to speak.
Really, honestly, listening and letting it resonate within me.
There’s not much I claim to know, but I do know this: I follow a God who crossed and continues crossing boundaries to show His undying love for His creation, and who asks me to do the same. I follow a God who breaks down walls and creates unity instead of putting them up, and again asks me to do the same.
I’m still learning. We all are, really.
And while I’m learning, I am grieving with those who are grieving.
I am weeping with those who are weeping.
And I am listening. And I am with you. And I am sorry.