“Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14
I am not a peacemaker. Sometimes I’d like to be (and maybe that is a start), but often the idea of becoming a peacemaker strikes me as sort of extreme–like becoming an environmentalist or a vegan. It seems to require actions and commitment that I’m not quite ready to make, that I’m not even sure I’m capable of making. Midweek meetings to discuss pro-active demonstrations. Weekends of attending conferences and leading seminars. Summers spent asking for donations and soliciting volunteers. Scary stuff if you ask me.
Now sometimes I want to be the sort of woman who soothes babies and comforts the heartbroken; who leads food drives, tutors at-risk teenagers, and raises money to stop human trafficking in her spare time. Truth be told, I probably have more spare time right now than I ever have or will at any other point in my life. I have no children to raise, no husband to care for. I don’t even have a full time job demanding that I be in one place from 9-5, five days a week. And yet I do not know if I can commit to this peacemaking business.
I feel like peacemakers are the people on the front lines, singing songs and picketing in protests, passing out pamphlets on street corners and donating all of their spare change to non-profits based in countries that I can’t even spell. That sort of perception is what keeps me from jumping into the deep end of the peacemaking pool.
But maybe peacemaking isn’t an all or nothing kind of thing. Maybe it’s something you can ease into one choice at a time. I hear that’s the best way to make a change—little by little. Maybe pursuing peace doesn’t start by spending three months in the middle of Africa. Maybe it begins by forgiving my sister for hurting my feelings, by keeping an extra pair of socks in my car, or foregoing my morning coffee once a week and giving that $2 to the man standing on the median.
Peace, like love, is a habit that is formed and re-enforced one choice at a time. By opening a door, offering a “thank you,” giving up a seat, talking to a stranger. Peace begins with the small things, the close things, the easy decisions that prepare us for the hard ones. I may not yet have the strength to host a stranger in my home, but I do have the capacity to buy her a sandwich. I may not be ready to quit my job and work for a non-profit, but I am capable of being a conversation partner once a week. This is how we prepare to plummet the depths of making peace, by opening our hearts and looking for opportunities, easing us in one step at a time.