I have faced many challenges in the past year. Living with fibromyalgia; fighting the need to please; feeling obligated toward others; financial struggles; approaching conflicts in marriage; struggling with the proper way to discipline my children; learning to say “no” in an attempt to form a healthy boundary; the list could go on.
However, one word keeps coming to mind as I search for the reason behind making changes in the face of challenge: PEACE. My ultimate goal is peace.
I have questioned my motives over and over. Am I being selfish by demanding certain changes? Am I not seeing a lesson in this circumstance? Am I supposed to accept this conflict or that? Is this about me or about the other person involved? What role am I supposed to be playing here?
I have prayed for peace and direction. But until today, I didn’t realize my struggle has been defining my role as peacekeeper or peacemaker.
I am the first to admit I hate conflict. I hate approaching someone about something in the name of peace, only to have it end badly. That is never my intent!
I want peace, I desire peace, I am more than happy to admit I am wrong if it means we can have peace!
Yet, my attempts at keeping the peace seem to backfire over and over again. Why do I seem to be the one getting punished for trying to maintain peace?
This week, in my personal Bible study time, I am on week 6 in Living Beyond Yourself by Beth Moore. Today I watched video session 6. This week’s focus just happens to be on, you probably guessed it: PEACE! Please note that anything in quotes from this point forward are from either the worksheet or the teaching from this session.
I received the answer to my above questions today:
I have attempted to “keep peace at any cost” The peace I have tried to keep is a “false peace… a peace that does not even exist… a claim of peace, peace when in reality there is no peace!”
God has been trying to show me that I have been a peacekeeper for far too long. Finally, the time came to be a peacemaker. And in order to “be” a peacemaker, I had to take action!
“Sometimes peace comes with the sword (see Matthew 10:34-36) to cut off a relationship that we have no business being in.”
I just love it when God shows me what to do, but then demands I act on faith for a time before he reveals the “why” behind it. I call this confirmation and usually He provides the confirmation during a time I start to doubt I heard Him correctly.
I have experienced unrest and a lack of peace this past week. I have given into anger and frustration, but at the same time, have felt the urge to hold my ground regarding the changes that must take place. It is no longer about who is right or who is wrong. It’s about taking the necessary action– the cutting off of what is unhealthy– in order for God to take over.
I apologize for being ambiguous, as I am trying not to focus on the other individual involved in this ongoing conflict. Please trust, that although my marriage has been affected, this post is not about justifying ending a marriage — but another relationship that has survived based on the illusion of “false peace” for far too long. My focus is on the relationship itself, not on the people or person involved.
“Jesus doesn’t come to take sides, he comes to take over.” In this situation, this relationship must end in order for Jesus to take control of the part we are playing. I cannot speak for God’s intentions regarding the other person. I can only attest that there has been no genuine effort on their end to make peace, therefore we are taking action.
With that, this particular relationship has controlled many areas of our (my husband and my) life. As much as we try to ignore it, we have had to face the reality that this relationship is no longer honoring God or the purpose to which the relationship first began. We have defaulted time and time again in the name of “keeping peace”. For some time we have not agreed with the way things were, but we felt powerless to do anything about it. We were caught in a cycle of destructive conflict. We would avoid and avoid until we could take no more. Then we would attempt to communicate, only to be ignored or belittled. So, we defaulted back to avoiding, unable to see clearly enough to make the next move.
Then God started changing the situation in a way that forced us to examine the relationship. He removed the financial security the relationship had brought to us. He forced me, especially, to look to Him for the answers, and not to some other source.
At first, I played the faith card… God will provide in time. Then when things didn’t change and got worse, I realized I was still depending on a method and not God as the source. I had to look deeply to my motives. I wanted peace. Without financial security clouding my vision, I suddenly saw how I had been depending on a false peace for far too long. Everything in my house began to symbolize that false sense of security.
There was a time when I saw our possessions as a symbol of how God had blessed the work of my husband’s hands; blessed my efforts to remain a stay-at-home mother; blessed us with resources to enjoy life to an extent we had never experienced as children; blessed us with a house where I could express creativity and warmth; stability and consistency.
Suddenly none of those things seemed like blessings anymore. Suddenly they all symbolized the burden; the yolk we had taken on in order to keep the peace. Suddenly, none of it was worth it anymore. If leaving our home and the only life our boys had every known meant we could finally have true peace; then I was willing to do whatever it took to make that peace happen.
Did it make any sense? Not really. Did we have a plan in place that would ensure provision for our day-to day needs? Not at all. Did we try every other avenue possible before taking that step of faith? I think we did. Did I put out the fleece in order to make sure this was actually what God was directing us to do? Yes. Many things have fallen into place, including gaining manageable control over my health problems.
A heart at peace gives life to the body ~Proverbs 14:30
If this action we have taken was not going to create that true peace, I really do not think I would be feeling as good as I am. The physical issues I was experiencing before the move were the direct manifestation of my ongoing efforts to keep the peace at any cost!
Even though we are still working through the process, we are finally at the point that it’s time for the unhealthy relationship to end completely.
“To be a true peacemaker is ‘to make, do, expressing action either as completed or continued.‘”
I have no doubt that once that occurs, my husband and I will both experience a peace beyond understanding that will lead us to the next stage of our life. It’s going to require a lot of faith; a lot of prayer; and a lot of change in our thinking, habits and patterns. But I believe it is all for the glory of God and that in the end, He will be our ultimate Provider of true, lasting, authentic Peace!
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.