For years I saw my role in life as a peacemaker. Born on Armistice Day (the peace treaty was signed for WWI on November 11th, and later renamed Veterans Day) and by temperament the peacemaker in a crazy, alcoholic dominated family, I did everything in my power to bring peace. That meant swallowing my words, especially words I knew weren’t wanted, ignoring my own emotions and pain, and doing whatever those around me wanted “to keep the peace.” Boundaries and that wonderful two lettered word, “No” weren’t even on my horizon.
When we started attending church, I picked up on the verses that encouraged my peace-keeping practices. “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Matt 5:9 ESV
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled Hebrews 12:14-15 ESV
Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14 ESV
By the time I arrived at my teenage years, I was well versed in ducking my head, “fixing” things, reading the temperature of the people around me, and doing whatever it took to “keep the peace.”
Because I thought peace was my job, even memorizing great verses couldn’t help. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7 ESV
Not being anxious was yet another job to add to my to-do list.
If someone had asked me what I wanted, just for me, I wouldn’t have known how to answer. My own feelings didn’t get enough time in my conscious mind to even register.
Being a peacemaker translated into being a people-pleaser.
Making new resolves.
And the harder I tried, the less peace I had.
I made many poor choices, though I didn’t realize I was making choices.
Even at my best, it was me, the Peacemaker, trying harder. Pulling it together.
That made me a doormat and a boring date.
In marriage, it made me a doormat and a boring mate.
Looking outside myself didn’t really help. In the news and magazines, instructions from gurus and shamans and politicians abounded, sources all over the world offered peace, where there was no peace.
They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14 ESV
And you shall know that I am the Lord God. Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! Ezekiel 13:9b-11 ESV
I didn’t know it was impossible for me to be the one to bring peace, or that peace isn’t something I can work for or contrive.
It took a lot of pain, blind alleys, false starts and long roads to get to the place where I couldn’t go on. In total defeat, I surrendered my Peacemaker badge.
Once I gave up trying to be god in my life, and in the lives of everyone around me (come on now, isn’t that what we’re doing when we try to make everything right?) I discovered the treasure of joblessness.
I found the most wonderful gift.
The presence of one who is peace.
Instead of projecting what might happen so I can fix it before it starts, and watching everyone to ward off an injury or bandage a hurt, instead of anxiously watching faces for affirmation, attention that is fleeting and shallow, I snuggle up to the God of Peace.
And in the presence of the God of green hope, I am getting to know me, the one I was created to be, distinct and special, just as you are.
So this year, as I raise my flag on Veterans’ Day, I know I’m not the one to bring peace, for me, my family or my world.
Tell me, where do you find your peace?
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thess 3:16 ESV
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! Romans 15:13 MSG
7 thoughts on “Peace”
Wow!!! My sister said I was the family peacemaker…….I didn’t understand……..after reading this…I DO see myself…and NO I have not found my real self….I’m 76……..too late for most things…but Faith I have………..love,c
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Not too late! I believe as long as we’re alive and kicking, we can grow and change and receive more of what God has for us. Bless you.
Ah, lovely words and a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing and helping me to stop and remember, too.
Happy Peaceful Birthday!
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Thank you, Kim. That’s the good thing about my birthday…a yearly reminder, now, that I’m not the peacemaker. I’m leaving that job to the Prince of Peace.
Jane, you seemed to dig these words out of the very depths of my heart:
“If someone had asked me what I wanted, just for me, I wouldn’t have known how to answer. My own feelings didn’t get enough time in my conscious mind to even register.
Being a peacemaker translated into being a people-pleaser.”
For much of my life, I was the same. And in certain situations and familial dynamics, still am. It is hard to stretch yourself outside of roles that have been yours since before your first smile, first laugh, and first steps. But I am trying, still trying.
Thank you for this breath of needed soul air this evening. And Happy (early) Birthday, friend. I’m not too far behind you.
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You’re so right, Dani. I doubt I’ll ever escape it completely, but it’s with the journey.
And it’s especially true when others are expecting you to carry that role. I think being misunderstood comes with that territory.
I have been blessed with many family members who are cheering on my growth.
In reality, the healthier and more true we become, the greater we bless those we interact with.
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So true, Jane.