It is the week of peace for Advent. We gathered together before the Christmas tree in that room where our family spends so much time together, our oldest son took his turn holding the flame to the wick lighting the second advent candle, and then we read the peace words together. Actions from this month have me wondering: How to be at peace among violent people? How can we raise a family at peace in a world gone mad?
How can we make peace and be at peace when we find ourselves having to instruct our children on an “Active Shooter” family plan? How can we teach them peace when we are surrounded by men and women with violent, oppressive intentions?
- I want to raise sons who are men of peace in a world gone violent, entitled, angry, and mean.
- I want to raise men – who bend low in humility, who understand the work of binding wounds – not inflicting them.
- I want to raise men & women who beat weapons of war into tools for planting and harvest.
- I want to raise children who see the worth in every human being they encounter – from the janitor to the chairman of the board.
- I want to raise daughters in a world where violent men – do not believe they are entitled to them. That they have a right to – with their mouths, their minds, or their hands to take and to harm their feminine bodies and their hearts.
- I want to raise women who are fierce in their love, fierce in their truth, fierce in their compassion.
- I want to raise women who do not seek permission to live and breathe (Who Told You You Could Do That? – this article on Raising Girls is where my heart is at)
One of those advent peace verses says,
“In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
and a little child will lead them all. (Isaiah 11:8 NLT)
Which is interesting timing if you think about it – when violent men/women, with violent words attack and hate with their speech across airways, from behind lecterns, and in the comment sections online.
And we shake our heads and cry out to the Prince of Peace for a world gone crazy and mad.
Here’s the thing: We don’t need status updates, and 24 hour news cycles to remind us of how violent people can be.
Entitled people with violent agendas infiltrate our lives – often.
We know it. It doesn’t take the Donald Trumps, or terrorist attacks on innocent people to remind us of the violence that exists in the world. We probably do need reminded at how delusional, entitled thinking can lead to mob violence and evil, unspeakable acts, but we don’t need reminders that people can be cruel.
We live with it.
It is difficult to find people of genuine peace in this world.
Even in this writing space – angry men/women, with vicious, twisted words meant to harm and accuse, blame, redact, and refute come.They use violent, angry words meant to “put me in my place” as a woman, as a wife, as a Jesus-follower, as a mother. They call into question my allegiance, my heart, my stories, and my truth. They come to silence what they cannot control.
News Flash – this is not how you even begin to make peace.
Peacemaking 101 – if you are shouting, no one is listening. Actually they are probably off somewhere making peace while you didn’t even realize they left the room
We leave violence in our wake – thinking we have the right to wipe the manure off our shoes onto the lives of others (Want to read more: Here’s a shooting it straight article on what that manure looks like in a writer’s life).
I don’t know what it is about me that makes white, Christian men think they can talk to me and about me any way that they choose, but they do exactly that and they have been doing this my whole life: violent words from violent hearts with violent intentions.
Words and instructions meant to “elder” me … if you’ve been around certain types of churched folk you know what it means to be eldered.
Why would anyone naively believe that peace could be possible among such violent attitudes, hearts, and intentions?
- How can we make peace in this world – when we are not known for being peacemakers?
- How can we make peace in our families – when the things on our lips and hearts towards one another are violent and hurtful?
- How can we make peace in our own lives – when our shame-filled hearts are set on shaming the whole world around us just so that we can walk away from others feeling better about ourselves?
No peace pamphlet. No training seminar.
No discussion round tables under the banner of making peace will be able to force peace in our homes, churches, community, and world when we live life on such violent, entitled terms.
You cannot force what is not there.
Peace is not merely taught – it is lived.
It is chosen daily in how we love, live, and choose to speak to others.
And we find that Peace by making peace with the Prince of Peace. He shows us how to live as Peace-filled people.
Our demands are like war to each other’s hearts and lives…. There can be no peacemaking when we refuse to hear, lean in, and understand the stories and histories of great joy and great harm that exist in the lives of those around us.
We can not even begin to make peace until we recognize the harm we bring, the violence we ourselves perpetuate, and this spirit of violent intentions the exists in our lives.
We can not make peace until we make peace with ourselves – until we make peace with the violence we commit to our own hearts and lives, churches and families.
There is a lot of angry harm we have committed when we weren’t paying attention to our intentions – when we weren’t paying attention to the hearts and lives of those we have been entrusted to protect, to serve, to love.
Can you be reconciled to one another when victims are everywhere – and no one is at fault?
So we watch – this advent week of peace – wondering and hoping that the God of Peace would sit down with us in our bleeding places, bind our wounds, and begin to make peace in our violent hearts and world. That he would show us how to make peace on HIS TERMS.
Teach us, Father – how to be a peace-filled people set on making genuine peace in the hearts and lives of those around us.
I think that peace in the world begins with peace among His people – the people who claim his name.
And so I make peace among those who are my responsibility – these littles – turning their hearts and lives, and attitudes towards being people of peace in a world gone mad.
That happens one candle, one moment, one prayer, one cradle, one leaning towards one another at a time.