I’ve got a friend who is a lawyer. Cue the lawyer jokes……nah…..let’s not. My friend’s area of specialty is the law of war. I didn’t know there was such a thing, before I met my friend. But there is, and it is fascinating. I wish I had bigger and better brains to understand the complexities of the issues surrounding the law of war….but what I do know is that for peace to happen, for peace to be a reality, it takes work.
My middle boy’s area of ‘leadership’ at school is peacemaking. He’s part of a group of kids who are rostered on in shifts over lunch breaks (in NZ all the school has their lunchtime at the same time), these kids wear oversized brightly coloured tshirts over their uniforms to identify themselves as peacemakers, and they ‘patrol’ the school grounds, ready to help out with playground disputes and issues. They have had some training in the area and are kids who in general exhibit some gentle and kind qualities themselves. It’s a cool idea I reckon.
I also reckon there are some situations where us adults could do with some peacemakers patrolling the hallways and corridors of our lives. Now I’m not about to rock some high vis wear myself, but I figured I could write down some things I know about establishing and keeping the peace in my own life. Peace to do with relationships. Normally I’m a little reluctant to say that I know anything about anything, because nobody wants be appear to be a know it all, and I’m always acutely aware of my need to learn more, to progress more and to develop more. But you know what? Today I’m actually gonna say I actually know some stuff about this. Most of it has been learnt the hard way, and I may not always practice it myself all the time, but maaaate, this is what I do know:
* peace is like a river. Life flows so much better when you are at peace with the relationships in your life. And peace is worth protecting, just like an unpolluted, sparkling clear river, bringing refreshing water to many.
* peace is worth striving for, but peace is not always attainable with everyone in your life, all of the time. We’re all so different, there are always going to be some personalities that are harder to understand than others. And as awful and as hard as living with that tension can be, as long as you know you’ve made every effort on your part, then you just have to let it go. ‘Harmony’ is one of my top five strengths, so it can be the end of the world for me if things aren’t all fine and dandy with relationships in my life, so I’ve had to learn how best to deal with this and live with the reality that harmony is not always possible. It just isn’t.
* pick your time and place for conversations that could become ‘interesting’ very carefully. Are there onlookers and eavesdroppers that shouldn’t be privy to this conversation? Similarly, would it be best to have a third party in on the conversation, someone who can see the middle ground? This week someone talked to me about something, but before I could see the heart behind the words spoken, I first had to get over the fact these words were spoken to me in front of someone who shouldn’t have been privy to the conversation. Time and place. It’s so important.
* is it necessary? I think a lot of heartache can be avoided when we choose to keep our opinions on a matter to ourselves . I know the times I’ve most been in hot water with myself and others, have been the times when I’ve shared my opinion on something, when it wasn’t necessary. I’m learning to shut up more, but to have an answer when called upon. When someone actually wants to hear what my opinion on something may be. It’s a more peaceful way to walk through life for sure.
* work out what you need to do to process your feelings, when you feel robbed of your peace. Some people need to pray, listen to music, or walk. Some people need to hide themselves away a bit, others need the company of others. I get to the point of needing a little vent (usually to my husband and a friend) (like a double shot latte), just to make sure I’m not unjustified in my thoughts and feelings, and sometimes I find I need to action these feelings in some ways. It helps to restore peace. Praise God for my husband and friends.
* pray pray pray. This should be my first point, my middle point and my last point. I don’t always understand why people say or do hurtful things to myself and to those I love, but I realise I don’t have to have all the answers or any answers for that matter. But I do know we have the best advocate we could ever have in God. When there are no earthly reasons why conflict happens and peace is robbed from us, we have God on our side. And He is the peace that passes all understanding. Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is peace. We can learn to live and rest in this.
Sometimes we get out of the river of peace because we choose to, it happens as a by product of our attitudes and heart positions, and at other times it feels like we’re snatched out of that river, because of circumstances completely out of our control. The good news is that river never dries up, that river of peace is always flowing, always offering refreshment and cleansing, and we can choose to get back in. Back into the flow.