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Tonight I prepped Kale. Three massive bunches of kale. I took my sharp knife, folded the long leafy green and sliced along the pale vertebral stem. I did it a hundred times. Leaf after leaf.
What I wanted was to order pizza.
Because my car was in the shop and because I hadn’t been the self I wanted to be in heated conversations with friends and because even before eight in the morning I’d already cried buckets with a hurting human I can’t bear to see sad. Also, because I was (a little bit) loathing myself.
So at seven, tired from a workout I hadn’t wanted, starving, and aching for a distraction, I fantasized about a gluten-free personal pepperoni pizza.
But prepped kale.
So sick of making stupid mistakes all day, I wanted to do something (anything) right.
In the moment, kale seemed right. Good. The choice I would be happy to have made tomorrow. The pro-abundant-life choice.
After I prepped kale, my husband cooked and I washed dishes. Then I talked to my girls about before they were born and London asked great questions and we pulled out my pregnancy journal and I read and we all laughed. Then I made a bed for the two of them in their tent and read them a story about Abraham Lincoln and prayed the Lord’s Prayer with them and blessed them.
And I climbed into bed and wrote this.
All because I prepped kale.
See, the night was doomed before it began. The day was too long and too full of mistakes. Mistakes and heartaches. And I had every “right” to give up, grab a slice (or six) and watch three episodes of Parks and Rec. I could make good choices tomorrow.
But if I’d done that, if I’d given up on the kale and called Domino’s, I never would have made it to the journal and my laughing girls and special memories in a tent with Lincoln.
Sometimes all we need is one good choice to get us back on track. Sometimes one solid, wise, life-valuing decision is all it takes to turn an entire day around.
Make one good choice. And see where it leads.
I am a turtle.
That means when I encounter conflict, I hide in my shell. I can’t say it’s comfortable in here. It’s pretty cold, actually. But at least I’m not out there. With the people.
I spend a lot of time alone, avoiding, away.
I watch conflict from a safe distance. At least that’s what I think I’m doing. I’ve learned lately that I’m actually coddling it, heating it like an egg under a lamp, growing it, preparing it to hatch.
Over the past few weeks my husband’s preached a series called "How to Make Peace." Because we Christians are a peace people, defined by peace, living at peace with the body, carrying peace to the world. That’s the plan anyway.
I can’t say we’re living up to it. A lot of us are mean. And drama queens. Fussy, picky, finger-pointing, and passive aggressive. We stir up conflict and run away from conflict, refusing to diffuse it, leaving it to fester and grow, reaching and infecting like mold.
Why are we so bad at peace?
For me, it’s not that I don’t want it—oh, I really, really do—it’s that I don’t have the guts to make it. To have a hard conversation, to make an actual phone call, or (the horror!) meet and talk face to face.
I am the girl who wears her brand new boots with missing zippers because she’d rather ignore the fact that they’re broken than actually drive them to the shoe repair shop and get them fixed.
I like fixed. I am intimidated (and frustrated) by fixing. I’d rather move on and start over.
That doesn’t work so well with relationships.
For others of you, peace is hard because you’re a shark. You choose fight, not flight, in response to conflict, and your sharp teeth and bitter words crush the people around you. By the time you calm down, you’re covered in blood and your “opponent” (your husband or wife, child, or friend) is either long gone or terrified, cowering, unable to see you as much more than a monster.
It’s hard for monsters to make peace. We don’t trust them.
As I think about peace today, I’m thinking of so many situations. Of friends in failing marriages. Of teenagers at odds with their parents. Of vitriolic facebook friends, always provoking. Of politicians arguing in television ads. Of politicians arguing in congress. Of Syria. And Sudan. And now Russia.
I think of millions of people in boxing gloves, everyone waiting to punch.
We need to make peace.
The world needs Christians to make peace.
It’s a tall order. And while it may seem like more than any one of us can do, alone or together, there are steps we can take to start right now. Little baby steps that grow up into strides and launch into a full-on sprint.
Right now, today, this minute, you can begin making peace.
To start, watch this series of lessons, "How to Make Peace."
You’ll learn that not only is peace possible, it’s possible for you.
My prayer for all of us is that we’d do (and receive) this:
"Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” II Corinthians 13:11
May the God of love and peace be with you.
P.S. You can also follow my friend Peggy’s blog: Peace is a Choice. She has great ideas about small and large scale peace-making.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I am. I’ve written plenty about it, too. I think understanding who we are is one of those epic whole-life quests.
Today in women’s Bible class my wise friend Vera Jean said some truths are hard to hold onto. She said just when we think we’ve grasped them, we’ll find they’ve slipped through our fingers. She said we’ll spend our whole lives grasping, holding onto, and losing understanding. She said as we go, we hold onto it for longer and the grasping gets easier.
As I look ahead, already feeling my identity-confidence slipping, I find peace in that.
A few weeks ago I read the book of Isaiah, so full of truths I’ll soon forget and need to relearn. But for now, they’re fresh. Reading Isaiah reminded me that I’m God’s—His child, His slave, His to direct, His to cherish. By the time I arrived in chapter 44, I was sold out, so eager in my commitment to being whoever God wanted me to be. So when I read these words…
This is what the Lord says—
he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
and who will help you:
Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant…
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
like poplar trees by flowing streams.
Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’;
others will call themselves by the name of Jacob;
still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
and will take the name Israel.
I ran to my desk, grabbed a Sharpie and wrote “The Lord’s” on my hand.
Because I belong to the Lord. Because my name is “The Lord’s.”
Today, looking back on Isaiah 44 I can’t help but think about my “offspring.”
My journey toward understanding who I am is important. It’s important because it’s not just about me; it affects everyone around me, my kids most of all.
My identity, my name, is something I pass down. If my name is fear or insecurity or pride, my kids will know it. And they’ll live their entire lives under the weight of it. If I find my identity in my appearance or my accomplishment, my children will too. Or they’ll spend years, tears, and too much energy trying not to.
But if I live into my identity in Christ, if I wear His name and walk in His way, I’m passing down something powerfully life-giving and freeing, not a burden but a key. I’m planting my children by “flowing steams” when I pass down a legacy of sonship (daughter-ship), redemption, and glory.
I am “The Lord’s.” That is the name I want to give my kids.
The other day at Chick-fil-a I looked over at London eating ketchup-coated chicken nuggets. She had something doodled on her hand. I looked closer and saw this:
And I cried quiet, happy tears.
Because she’s six. And she’s writing His name on her hand.
I know things may change. I know she’ll struggle just like I do to keep her identity straight. I know she’ll look in a mirror a hundred times and wonder, “Who am I?”
But I know too that a name is a powerful thing, and I have the opportunity and responsibility to teach her her name, to forever bless her in binding her to her Father.
Today I’m rejoicing in my identity, resting in belonging, knowing that who I am shapes who she’ll be. Knowing that Who I am has so little to do with me. Knowing that the same God who made me and claimed me and named me has done and will do the same for her, for both my girls, for all our offspring, springing up like grass in a meadow…