A New Response

Friday, October 18

10-18By Karen Moreland of Independence, Missouri, USA

These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace,

—Zechariah 8:16

“You will be a peacemaker.” As I remembered those words from my Evangelist Blessing, I paused . . . “Me, a peacemaker? Me . . . the one who other children always picked on in grade school, the first one to run and hide when conflict emerges? Me, a peacemaker?” I only knew two ways to cope with conflict: battling it out verbally, or retreating at a fast pace. I did not make peace.

I remember the year I taught a class at reunion (family camp). The lesson of the day was how to deal with a bully who had stolen lunch money. Again, I paused at my feelings of inadequacy. Cautiously I had the children act out the scene in role-play. The message to resolve issues peacefully got across and pleased me. Then a boy raised his hand and said, “You just don’t understand what it’s like at school. You have to deck them first and then demand the money back.” I was speechless for a moment and then glibly explained we are to be peacemakers not fighters. I did not address his frustration or “hear” his pain.

Several years later, my own son was in middle school and facing bullies himself. I knew he was home by the sound of a door slamming. Once again he angrily tossed his books around and shoved items off the table, sending them crashing to the floor. Instead of our usual verbal argument, I responded in a soft voice, “I’m sorry if my work was in your way.” I picked them up off the floor and said, “I’ll keep them somewhere else.”

He stood, mouth agape, and finally stammered, “You weren’t supposed to say that!” Then he went quietly to his room. Later, when he was calm, we discussed his frustrations. Finally, I was a peacemaker. I had learned from the adage, “If you always respond the same way, you will always get the same results.” The Evangelist was right on with his inspired words. Today I work at the Temple reception desk in Independence, Missouri. I greet those who enter to learn ways of peace.

Prayer for Peace
God of wisdom, teach us the ways of peace. May we be examples of calm to those who are frustrated. May we respond with love when we encounter a hateful action. May we “listen” for pain, and have compassion. In doing this, we share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Teacher- learner
The first disciples of Jesus followed to hear his words, to be taught, to learn a new way of living, to practice what they learned in daily life. Prayerfully consider your role as a teacher-learner, disciple-apprentice; a people cultivator in Community of Christ. In your journal, write the names of several persons you discern as teachers or mentors and several you feel called to nurture and encourage in specific ways. Ask God’s blessing on you and your congregation as a community of learners.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will respond to hate and violence in a new way—Christ’s way.

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1 Comment

  1. Susan Gregory

     /  30 October 2013

    Karen, what a beautiful and personal story! Sending hugs from the Pacific NW!!

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