PEACE. “The absence of conflict.”
Or so I thought for most of my life.
And Google backs me up on this.
So does my husband. He loves an atmosphere where everyone gets along.
Raising four spirited kids did NOT lend itself to this. The constant conflict sent us to our beds exhausted many nights.
I found myself often muttering under my breath or sometimes screaming loudly (which, if you think about it, is pretty ironic), “All I’m asking is for just a few moments of peace!”
Whether it’s the constant arguing political analysts on “news” shows, vitriolic social media discussions, gut-wrenching war across our world, bickering among children over the latest who-knows-what, disagreeing co-workers, or late-into-the-night discord among spouses, it is just plain tiring.
No wonder we want some peace.
Some everyone-just-get-along-please moments.
We are saturated with it all day long.
But is the absence of conflict real down-deep PEACE?
As in the fancy Hebrew word for peace, SHALOM?
Was our home filled with peace just because the six of us were not fighting?
Because SHALOM is not defined by absence.
Instead, it is marked by presence, the presence of true human flourishing.
The presence of the Prince of SHALOM.
It speaks of fullness, completeness and wholeness.
In Ancient Israel, when a crime was committed, the central point was not on the outer (the broken law and restoration of order), but rather on the inner (broken SHALOM and restoration of peace) for ALL involved: victim, community and even offender. It was important that ALL would flourish, ALL would be brought back to wholeness.
Shane Claiborne says it this way:
“Peacemaking does not mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is not flight or fight, but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love, that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.”
This is so hard.
Especially when I am the victim, the oppressed one.
It’s so much easier for me to take flight, protect myself.
Focus on ME.
It’s so much easier for me to fight, attack you.
Focus on YOU.
Right about now in my life, both of those options sound wonderful.
I feel wronged.
I feel angry and wanting justice.
I feel like I want to run and hide.
I feel like I also want to put up a down-and-dirty fight.
But it’s so much better to shift my response to making peace, restoring SHALOM. True human flourishing for ALL. As hard as that is.
Focus on US.
Not YOU against ME and ME against YOU, but US fighting FOR each other.
It’s easy to go down the rabbit trail that the problem is too huge to make a dent in, much less solve.
It’s a big one.
My broken space is just one small drop in the sea of shattered SHALOM.
But (and I rest and trust here) it’s probably the best place to start.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)