Monday, November 5, 2012

In which I choose Peace

The other day, I was still long enough to hear it.

That has not been the case much lately.

For, even in the times when I move slower and speak less, I'm still running circles in my head. In there, in that small sheltered space, is a rumpus of imagined debate and flourishing retorts, each with a pointed desire to shine brighter, stand taller, pierce deeper. You may think me a quieter soul but believe me when I tell you that there are places down deep that rage.

For you see, I want to be the one who is right. 

And I don't mean the kind of right that wins a debate. 

I want to be righteously right. 

At the end of the day, despite my carefully chosen words and filtered sentiments, despite my humble offerings of compromise and understanding, I want to land on the right side of glory. And I want everyone to know it.

But, the other day, in the midst of this internal storm, this desire to wage war with words, I felt this alight upon my heart:

But the wisdom from above is 
first of all
It is also peace loving,
gentle at all times,
and willing to yield to others.
It is full of mercy and good deeds.
It shows no favoritism
and it is always sincere.
And those who are peacemakers
will plant seeds of peace
and reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3: 17-18 NLT

And it was as if something broke. Down in that deep place, where fires burn hot and joy is a stranger, my soul was doused.

And I heard the Lord speaking to my most fragile self, the one that had been the source of all this unspoken vitriol but also, the one that most wants to change the world. On the trails of holy whispers I caught hold of this:

The Lord God has told [you]
what is right
what he demands:
'See that justice is done,
let mercy be your first concern,
and humbly obey your God.'
Micah 6:8 CEV

And all I could do was fall into the truth.

I am not called to bring down kingdoms or exercise judgment upon the land.
I am called to lift up the brokenhearted.

I am not called to point out the faults of others.
I am called to look deep and love hard.

I am not called to find the highest virtuous point and stake the flag of faith upon its peak.
I am called to help others to the top.

"Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers,
hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul,
which are the causes of war.
If you love peace, then hate injustice,
hate tyranny, hate greed--
but hate these things
in yourself,
in another."
-Thomas Merton

I am convinced, now more than ever, that we will never know a political landscape that represents the hearts of all people of faith. Because I've watched folks with deep belief and love and conviction tirelessly search their hearts and souls for answers and declarations but, in the end, still find themselves gazing at each other across fences denoting political affiliation. I have been such folk. 

No, the answer lies not in the establishment of a holy land. The answer lies in the laboring for hallowed hearts. It's not about fashioning this world to fit our cracked mold. It's about looking for "the way he works so we can live the way we're made" (Isaiah 2:3 MSG).

I know it now.
I know it deep and long and far and wide.
I am called to be a peacemaker.

On the eve of one of the most decisive political contests in the history of our country, I choose peace.

Peace over paradigm, over pontification, over pretension.

(photo credit: Google images)

And to all of you with whom I have stood opposite, even as we both sank, knee-deep in grace, I give you this:

"I pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you,
and that he will show you mercy and kindness.
May the Lord be good to you
Numbers 6:24-26 CEV


  1. This: It's about looking for "the way he works so we can live the way we're made" - it sums it all up for me. We're taking a vote in our church to decide who's "dodgeball" team we want to be on tonight. It's come to this and I'm sad about it. This post is lovely, a place of peace.

  2. Amen, Holly. This is the heart of it all - and oh, that we would grasp and hang onto it! Thanks for these good words.

  3. Friend, you are singing my song. What an internal battle I have with righteousness, self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and a life of faith. And I've said it to myself over and over in the past few weeks, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the earth."

  4. Holly, how very beautiful this is. A peaceable spirit and a seeking His face in all the turmoil and all the strife, that will bring a peace which passes my understanding every time. And won't He be glorified by this laying down the sword and a spirit that seeks reconciliation. Holly this is Holy. I want to nail my self-righteousness to the cross for good.

  5. Beautiful. I am praying from my side of the border. But this works wherever we are in the world. Love this, friend.

  6. God bless you Holly in all of your endeavors. And may you find that which you seek. Love you much,

  7. thomas merton! this was very challenging to me, and i needed it.

  8. Oh Shelly, wow. Suddenly, I'm in sixth grade again, standing on the sidelines, hoping that I won't be the last girl picked for kickball. Feeling your pain, friend. Glad you were able to find some peace here.

  9. Yes, blessed are they... praying to walk that road, always.

  10. I am most certainly convinced that the Lord's heart is gladdened when we choose to lay down our swords rather than fling our vitriol all about the place. May I be one who does the former by instinct.

  11. Idelette, thank you. I am comforted by your prayers, friend. Maybe I should just hike up my skirt and move to Canada so I can live by you.

  12. Thank you, Lori. May the Lord bless you and keep you, as well.

  13. There is never a bad time for Thomas Merton, in my opinion. Honored to have you in this space.

  14. Yes, so good. This was a good, hard post, Holly.

  15. Thank you, Annie, as always.

  16. Hanging on, daily, Diana. Always.