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