Peacemaking and Peacekeeping

Monday, October 26, 2015


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The harvest of a peacekeeper is that no one has peace because the quick fix of putting a bandage on a bleeding wound is more appealing than cleaning up the infection required to heal the wound. A peacekeeper wants quiet--not true peace--at all costs, ignoring the problem. The peacemaker realizes that the bandage itself may become an obstacle to peace and decides to delve into the core issues of the conflict to build a sound foundation for future peace. --Shawn Lantz in Living with Unmet Desires: Exposing the Many Faces of Jealousy

For a few years now God has been growing in me a "backbone". It seems that I was born without one! Ha! Being "boneless" however, has cost me my own peace and dealing with relationships in a godly manner. Not wanting to cause any angst for others only left me full of angst. While too much truth without grace destroys relationships, too much grace without truth keeps the damage alive. I am learning while I do the grace thing well it is really speaking the truth {having a backbone} that I need to work on. Backbones don't grow overnight. It is a process, and for me, it is a slow one. Since I have always struggled with standing up and telling the truth, I have ended up being a peacekeeper. Peacekeeping is a fallacy. You cannot keep the peace in conflict because conflict is devoid of peace. When conflict arises you have to "make" peace.

So what is a peacekeeper and why should we not be one? How can the truth be beneficial to our relationships? Why does Christ call us to peacemaking {Matthew 5:9} and not peacekeeping?

Peacekeepers...

-Try to keep those that are upset happy at the cost of their own well-being or the well-being of others. This is so ME! I would rather keep others happy...especially the angry ones. Unfortunately, angry people can't be pacified because anger is a problem for the one who has it. The angry person has to decide to deal with his or her emotions. Nobody can help them get rid of it.

-Hate dealing with the truth. If I can avoid it, I will. I hate speaking the truth especially when you have to point out the faults in another. However, not speaking the truth in love takes away another person's opportunity to grow as a human being. Avoiding it leaves conflict hovering in the air.

-Apologize for things that they didn't really do. I am an expert at this. I feel if I take responsibility for my actions then so will the other person (not always so). Then I sometimes take it a step further and apologize for something I didn't even do. Why? Once again in an effort to pacify the angry ones.

-Or don't apologize for what they did do and instead use flattering words. I have noticed this trait in human beings time and again. We mess up royally, and instead of apologizing and trying to make it right we try to assuage the hurt and anger of another by "overloving" on them. What really needs to happen is an honest conversation. That person may be waiting for you to fess up to your actions so the wound can heal.

-Won't share their real opinions in order not to offend. I tend to acquiesce to what others want either because I don't want a fight or I don't want to offend. There are times when we do need to speak up and tell what we are thinking and how we feel in order to bring more peace into the relationship.

-End up with angst in their own hearts. The is the sum total of what happens to a peacekeeper. He or she ends up not keeping the peace and the angst continues to live within them. They may go forward in a broken relationship, but something breaks inside of them because they haven't dealt with the core issues.

Peacemakers...

-Tell the truth even when it's hard. Peacemakers take big risks. Why? Because the truth is hard to digest for most of us, and yet, the truth is the very thing we need in our relationships. Truth can help us heal wounds and move forward. Shoving everything into the relational closet just makes things messier. Better to get it out into the open and sort through it.

-Deal with the source of the problem instead of trying to smooth it over. While we are commanded to speak in love, a peacemaker won't use just soothing words. Flattery doesn't work when trying to resolve conflict. Discussing the real issues can help bring peace into a relationship.

-Are willing to engage in reconciliation even when it is scary. Reconciliation is scary. Unlike forgiveness which takes only one person {the offended party}, reconciliation takes two people willing to meet and engage in order to work through the problem. Because you can't control the other person and probably don't trust them, the thought of working things out can be overwhelming. Peacemakers take the risk.

-Realize that they can't live in peace with everyone. God knows that peace between two people may not be achieved in some circumstances. He even says in Romans 12:18 that peace is only a possibility, not a given. There are times when you can try to work things out and the other person is unwilling. Or maybe you need separation for awhile to heal. Maybe there was an apology, but there is a lack of trust so getting close isn't wise. Whatever the reason for the lack of peace, peacemakers realize that we don't live in a perfect world. There are times we we need to let go of others so we can live in peace with ourselves.

-Forgiveness brings peace. While going back into a peaceful relationship isn't always possible, forgiveness is ALWAYS an option. God commands us to forgive so that we can be at peace in our own hearts. You don't need the other person to forgive, but you do need to release the anger and give them over to God.

So are you a peacekeeper or a peacemaker? Maybe it is about time to grow a backbone, get brave, and take steps to makes some peace.

You can read more of this series, 31 Days of Hope and Healing, HERE.





2 comments:

Carly said...

"Peacekeeping is a fallacy. You cannot keep the peace in conflict because conflict is devoid of peace. When conflict arises you have to "make" peace." That's a really helpful way of explaining it and I like how you described the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking. Like you, my natural tendency is to be a peacekeeper but I can see a few situations lately where I have been willing to say what I really think and speak the truth even when I know it's not what someone wants to hear, and the results have been better than I expected.

Debbie P said...

Carly- Thanks for stopping by and reading! I have had the same experience where I spoke the truth and it turned out better than expected. I just have to get over the fear of standing up for myself and speaking the truth.