Living and Loving Wholeheartedly {Book Club}

Living and Loving Wholeheartedly {Book Club}

Loyalty is one of my core values and strengths—if I care about you, you better believe I’m sticking up for you and staying by you.

This loyalty sometimes manifests in fierce protectiveness. I joked about it in college when my friends were dating, just in case their boyfriends turned out to be less than stellar. It is hard to turn off the “big-sister-let-me-fix-this-for-you” role even if we aren’t related, and um, sometimes whether you want it or not.

While my vengeful promises don’t escape the planning stage in my mind, they aren’t very peaceful. I kept thinking about this as I read our last section of Shalom Sistas by Osheta Moore. She said, “Peacekeeping is a result of our fear. But perfect love casts out fear, so peacemaking flourishes from our love: love for God, love for people, love for the world.”

Do you see evidence in your life and heart of peacekeeping or peacemaking?

For the last two years I’ve worked in food service, and I learned so much about peace when it came to customers. We really had the best clientele, but sometimes there would be frustrated people who wanted something we didn’t have or didn’t like what we did have. I can count the interactions that were really awful on one hand, but they still sting when I think about them.

As I consider those instances, small in relation to many of the issues we face in the world, I wonder if I could have done anything different to be a peacemaker. Did I seek to show love to the customer in those heated moments? Did I hold my tongue to their face but talk badly about them later on?

Just like Osheta shared in chapter thirteen with her idea of “love bombs”, I think we start small. That’s what peacemaking looks like in my life. What small, intentional steps can I take to practice shalom in my family, my neighborhood, my city?

I can show respect and kindness to the clerks at my grocery store and the barista at the coffee shop. I like to cross things off my to-do list and often rush through errands, but what if I paused a little longer to think about the life and humanity of the person I’m interacting with?

I really don’t consider myself a vengeful person (although you might not think that after my little mama bear admission earlier), so I was curious about the author’s idea in her list in the Shalom Steps to “make a list of the vengeful thoughts you’ve had in the last week”. As I scroll through posts on social media from people who have a different viewpoint than me, are all my thoughts peaceful? Or do I want to retaliate with a strong comment to “put them in their place”?

Do I want the person who wronged me to be miserable?

Do I wish harm on the person who seems to have everything I don’t?

These thoughts might be fleeting, but they are not filled with shalom or a desire to see people the way the Father sees them. I want to pay attention to the small or significant ways I lean away from peacemaking when I can lean toward it. Even when my thoughts do turn toward vengeance, I can bring those people before the throne of our God who cares so deeply for each of them. And for me.

Are you taking away any shalom practices from this book? What section impacted you the most? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Need a fun book for April? Join us as we read The Many Wonders of Costa Contente. Here’s a summary of the book:

There’s a small town on the South America coast where the sweet sea air mixes with fragrant tropical blossoms. It’s a place where the neighbors are kind, the parrots are helpful, and wonders abound in everyday life. Working together, the townspeople always come up with a plan to overcome any obstacle, large or small. Careful thought, hard work, and just that little bit of the magical assure that Costa Contente will continue to thrive for its people and the land on which it rests.

Here’s the schedule for Costa Contente:

April 6: Ch 1-7

April 13: Ch 8-11

April 20: Ch 12-15

April 27: Ch 16-18

6 Comments

  1. Kim April 1, 2021

    I really appreciated how Osheta emphasized show love where you are, with those around you, and with what you have. Sometimes the problem seems so big and the part I can play so insignificant. But the love you show and share is important and can make a difference.

    I really enjoyed this book.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann April 5, 2021

      Kim, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for joining the conversation too.
      I definitely need small steps for a lot of things, or I get overwhelmed and then do nothing! 🙂 This has challenged me to think about little ways I can show love and bring peace in situations around me.

  2. Michelle April 3, 2021

    Well I’ve got to say the discussion regarding race really resonated in my heart. I’m in an intercultural and inter-racial marriage. Like Osheta I’m raising a son who is “as white as he is black”. We are doing a weekend away for Easter. Today in the pool a few kids called my son an Indian. He came and told me “these kids also thought I was Indian”. I asked him how he replied “I told them I’m half American and half Kenyan.” He’s in that place where some kids here in Kenya tell him that he’s white and not REALLY Kenyan. And yet when he goes to America he will definitely always be classified as black with his African father. At nine-years-old race is something he is really starting to think about. I was honestly surprised when Osheta talked about the white guy who was flirting with her, and that turned out to be her husband. I had pictured her husband as African American up to that point. I appreciated hearing her heart on issues of race. And I loved that she took a moment to speak to the white women out there. I often feel that I have more and more thoughts on the topic as I process life married to a black man and raising a son who is classified as black in America. But then I feel my whiteness negates my ability to speak those thoughts.

    As I processed peacemaking and peacekeeping. It reminded me of post-election violence that we went through in Kenya back in 2007/2008. When things were resolved it seemed like overnight everything just stopped and people everywhere said “now there’s peace”. I kept thinking to myself that what we were experiencing was not in fact peace, but was calmness on the surface. True peace takes oh so much more than surface events and actions.

    I had my moments of not loving this book, but ultimately I’m gad I pushed through. I definitely have some good take-aways. Today I’m thinking a bit more about how can I bring peace to all the tables in my life. How can I be proactive in making shalom in difficult places of my life? Looking forward to hopefully joining again next month! Maybe I’ll actually keep pace with the recommended reading schedule too. Who knows?!

    1. Sarah Hilkemann April 5, 2021

      Michelle, thanks for sharing your experiences of being in an interracial marriage and raising biracial kiddos. I’m sorry for those hard experiences your son has had even this weekend. I was grateful too that Osheta shared so candidly- for me it was an opportunity to learn and listen.

      Calmness on the surface- what a great way to put it! Too often I’m content to get to that point- conflict avoided, the outward sense of calm is enough so we don’t have to deal with anything anymore. But not the true peace that is really necessary.

  3. Rachel Kahindi April 6, 2021

    Michelle – I’ve had similar thought processes about my Kenyan-American sons.

    What sticks with me from the last section of this book is the constant struggle between peacekeeping and peacemaking. I reeeeeeeeallllyyyy want to keep the peace. Really, really. That much. But I know that keeping peace is just a façade, and the conflict is still there, just ignored. I appreciated this line: “Being a peacemaker is a courageous calling that the world needs us to answer.”

    1. Sarah Hilkemann April 7, 2021

      Choosing to be a peacemaker does take so much courage! I wonder if those of us who really want to keep the peace or are people-pleasers need an extra dose of bravery in this area (at least I do!). 🙂

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