I like to think that I’m a “peacemaker.” I live my life in hopes of creating and keeping peaceful, beautiful, sacred spaces for and around my relationships. I want to make people feel safe to speak with me—to share their stories and lives. I want to be an empathetic listener, for I believe that it is through less speaking and more listening that the world’s hurts will be healed.
However, I fall short of my goals more often than I like. My instructor for a pastoral counseling class last week called the tendency to smooth over conflicts without actually dealing with them “peacefaking.” I mourn how easy it is to be a peacefaker—talking the talk of God’s peace and shalom without walking the walk. I find it easiest to be a peacefaker within my own heart. Sometimes it’s easier to push the pain down—to hide my wounds for the sake of a fragile veneer of happiness or contentment.
But that is not a healthy way to live. Instead, we are invited by God to attend to the conflicts within and among ourselves and our neighbors. With the help of our Comforter Holy Spirit, in attending to our darkness, we may find the sharp edges of conflict softened. We may look into ourselves and into others with generosity and see that we are all just trying to do our best. God is in the business of redemption, and we are invited into this fruitful, world-changing work that starts right here with us—if we’re willing.