Everyone wants peace but not everyone is willing to engage or sacrifice to do the difficult work of peacemaking. Peace sounds beautiful, wonderful and so . . . Peaceful!
Peace is attractive however, the work of peacemaking is not. Peacemaking requires us to step out of comfort zones, readjust our thinking and perceptions and embrace others who are not like us. It is hard work and not everyone will applaud or join you. You see this in churches, our families, communities, country and the world. It is hard to live for the other and to live the teachings of Jesus: to love your neighbor, forgive, pray for your enemy.
A few years ago I had a defining moment in my journey of living as a peacemaker. Up until that point, I was enthusiastically claiming my desire as a peacemaker, though a little naively. I had invited a few women from the states to travel with me to Israel/Palestine to meet together with a few Israeli and Palestinian women. This would be epic! We were going to spend about 10 days together listening and learning from each other, developing friendships and engaging with “the other”.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, tensions began to mount in the area and violence was erupting. We monitored the climate of the situation and were in touch with leaders on the ground. Finally, about a week or so before we were to leave, my friend, Sami, told me that the Israeli and Palestinian women would not be participating as it was too risky. He said, no one was traveling over to that area because of the disruption and circumstances and if we wanted to cancel, he would totally understand as it would not be the trip we had dreamed or planned.
I had to make a decision. Do I do the safe thing and postpone and reschedule or do I dare go anyway and show up in the tension? In a moment of conversation with God, a pivotal insight was revealed.
I had been saying I wanted to live as a peacemaker and encourage others to join, but I had never actually been put to the test. Was living as a peacemaker only for when times are peaceful? I realized peacemakers are not needed when times are peaceful but when times are tough, risky, filled with tension and conflict. Peacemaking isn’t peaceful. When conflict arises, peacemaking is needed and that is where peacemakers should to be.
My decision? I would go! I wrote to the other women and explained the situation and gave them a choice to go or stay with no guilt attached. I was not surprised when they all said they would be going too! And so we went. We showed up. And the fact that we showed up spoke more than our words could ever do. I can tell you that it was one of the most significant times I have had and I reflect back on that trip so often. It shaped much of what I am doing today. I can’t imagine if I would have said no. Sometimes it is just showing up in difficult places at difficult times to live what you believe.