We are living in particularly difficult and challenging times. We are facing many issues that have polarized and divided us. On a larger front, how do we navigate these times as a country and still preserve our unity? On a smaller front but no less important front, how do we come together peacefully at the dinner table over the holidays when we find ourselves sometimes at opinionated odds with those we love?
I have no problem scrolling past hot-button topics or potentially divisive posts in my social media and I can resist the temptation of sharing that politically charged meme that resonates with me but that I know will serve no positive purpose in sharing. Because…”blessed are the peacemakers”...so, I just keep scrolling and quoting that reminder to myself. And just when I think this keeping the peace thing isn’t so hard...something lands in my personal inbox that ruffles my tail feathers and instead of keeping the peace, I’m doling out a piece of my mind. Next thing you know, I’m like that “Kermit the Frog” meme frantically typing my reply. I mean, it’s in my inbox addressed to me, so I have to say something, right?! Our social media feeds are full of a variety of opinions, but none of them are personal...they’re just people’s opinions and we are all entitled to our own opinions. It’s perfectly okay to disagree, but when something lands in your inbox, then it suddenly feels personal; however, we don’t have to RSVP to every invitation of unfruitful dialogue.
Note to self: consider the following when deciding to respond. Will it be fruitful? I don’t think we should always be silent or that we have to be passive, but we have to exercise caution in our response...is it something that requires a response, meaning, are you standing up for something that deserves a thoughtful response? Will it be positively productive? Is the person genuinely interested in your thoughts or opinions? Did they even ask? Is what you’re going to say actually going to matter or is that person dogmatically set on their position? And if you do choose to respond, can you respond in love?
God has really been laying this “blessed are the peacemakers” thing on thick for me lately. It’s almost humorous. It’s like I get a tap on the shoulder every time I almost click “share” or type a response to something I know I should just remain silent about. It couldn’t be more loud and clear at times coming as literal word for word reminders as I come across it in Scripture or hear it mentioned in a podcast or hear the words “blessed are the peacemakers” directly from my pastor (thank you pastor, I mean that).
God, are you trying to tell me something? I think I’ve been getting so many reminders recently because he knows I’m true to my blonde roots and slow on the uptake sometimes, but thankfully He’s so very patient. He knows I'm a person of passion and certain topics ignite my passion. My “notes” on my phone have replies that thankfully remain undelivered. Sometimes, when I get the urge to respond to something that feels personal, I can hear God say to me (not audibly or literally in case you’re wondering), “look, if you really need to get it off your chest, and if frantically typing away like Kermit the Frog would feel therapeutic to you, then just put it in your notes.” And most of the time this works, but other times, I let my flawed human nature and ego get the best of me, hence the constant proverbial taps on my shoulder.
These are very tumultuous times and instead of feeding into the pervasive divisiveness, I hope to encourage all of us to band together, to be united in love, and to strive hard to be peacemakers. I’m not saying we should be doormats or silent to things that we need to take a stand against---there is a time for that and there are things that we ought to stand against such as hatred and violence, but when it comes to being drawn into useless debates or spending time responding to every forward in your inbox that propagates an obviously biased slant or misinformation, we ought to consider whether or not it would be truly fruitful to reply. If we can respond in love and reply in a way that might make a positive difference, then we should reply, but if not, then maybe we should hold our piece in order to keep the peace. Let’s try to hold a space of compassion and empathy for one another. Doing so requires us to attempt to view the world through another person’s unique context, and that can be difficult, but it does not require us to sacrifice our own values to do so. It is okay to disagree and it is possible to do so lovingly.
I pray that we will bring the love and peace of God into every conversation.
And Lord, please keep tapping me on the shoulder every time my inner “Kermit the Frog” takes over...Amen.