Peacemaker

girls

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” -Matthew 5:9

It was happening again.

To my right stood Wanda, loudly voicing her displeasure, her nape length ponytail wagging with every word. To my left was Charlotte. Her jelly bean-colored barrettes were clamped over her braids and were as frozen as the frown on her face.

And in the middle was me…again.

The three of us enjoyed being together. Playing jump rope on the playground. Eating Ellio’s frozen pizza in the school cafeteria. Talking excitedly about the newest toys in the Toys “R” Us Sunday circular.

But eventually, there were times when one of us would do something that would completely disrupt the peace.

Maybe we didn’t see Michael Jackson’s latest video. Maybe one of us had spearmint lip balm and the other had cherry. Maybe we liked Pepsi instead of Dr. Pepper.

Whatever the reason, Wanda would complain and usually Charlotte would counter back, resulting in a rip in our friendship blanket.

I would try not to take sides but my residence on the sidelines never lasted long.

During recess, I’d walk along the length of the playground with Wanda, half-listening as she complained about Charlotte. I’d scan the concrete for Charlotte and would finally spot her, playing happily, oblivious to the invisible friction that was rubbing me raw.

But then, they got over it. The rip was mended and all was well again.

Until next time.

We were 9-year-old girls who eventually matured into women and outgrew such behavior. But thinking back made me wonder how often we take the easy exit in an conflict.

Aligning with the loudest voice, joining the strongest alliance, standing with the largest group against the weaker side is the path of least resistance. But peacemaking requires a lot from us: backbone, energy, and love for all involved.

Taking sides keeps the conflict alive. As Christians, we should work at dissolving discord, not feeding it.

Have you ever taken sides in a conflict instead of trying to end it?

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Jennifer Jen

Hi, there! My name is Jennifer. I’m 32 and live in the D.C. area. I love Jesus, R & B music, and sugar in all its forms :-). In June 2016, I married my amazing husband, Calvin. I was completely single and waiting throughout my entire twenties. So I know the prayers, fears, and tears that come with prolonged singleness very well. I am excited to share my story and encourage single women who are waiting for God’s best!

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From The Dating Files

files

Hey MRPers!  We are going to try a new series called From The Dating Files!  After three years of online dating – not to mention the guys who came before – I have plenty of stories.  Of course, since none of these are men that I married, they all end sooner or later.  NOTE—These stories shouldn’t be taken as model examples of Christian dating.  I’m just telling you the truth as it happened.

I met Henry (not his real name) through Match.com.  Our first date we met at a trendy restaurant downtown known for good food and its brewery.  From the start, it was pitch perfect.  He was tall, dark, and handsome, with sparkling eyes and a killer smile.  He was smart, with a law degree and an ambitious plan for his career, and well-read.  The two hours passed in a blur of witty repartee, deep conversation, and not-so-subtle flirting.  We left the restaurant and made out on the corner of the street as downtown traffic whizzed by and I couldn’t have cared less.  (In retrospect, probably where it started going wrong.)  I texted my friend on my way home that this was THE ONE.  (Spoiler Alert: He wasn’t.  But funny how certain I was!)

Date Two.  He texted me at the requisite 24+ hour mark (gold star!) and we got together soon thereafter.  We met in my neighborhood at a local restaurant, walked around the block, and ended up at an ice cream shop.  I remember two things: (1) whereas I was comfortable walking in companionable silence, he was not and kept pressuring me to fill it without apparently feeling the need to make conversation himself and (2) we made out in the cemetery near the center of town in broad daylight with traffic again whizzing by.  (Again, not a strong choice and one I still feel embarrassed about.)  I knew it wasn’t as fantastic as the first date, but I figured just a bump on the road to love, right?  (I also asked a friend’s boyfriend for feedback and he said, you got ice cream and made out, sounds like a great date!  Sooo not all advice is good.)

Date Three.  On the prior date, he had suggested that we get together for the local Irish festival and so I waited, and waited, and waited for him to give a time.  He finally gave me a time…on the day of.  Red flag, right?  But I didn’t see it.  We walked around the festival, stopping intermittently for heavy PDA, and I thought it was the perfect date.  Back on track!  Boo-yah!

Date Four.  I was so excited about him, so sure that he was right, that I set up a happy hour to introduce him to a couple of my friends.  Was I a little jealous that he seemed to flirt with one of my married friends and she didn’t seem to mind the attention?  Maybe.  Did it keep me from making out with him again?  It did not.  I was so attracted to him, I couldn’t see any of the signs or any of the problems.

Date Five.  He completely flaked on the plans that I had set up (and bought tickets for) so we instead did a church activity of a cross-town scavenger hunt.  We actually won, but he seemed uncomfortable, barely touched me, and the night went downhill from there.  During dinner, he started asking me for tips on how he could improve his Match profile (subtle, right?).  I first thought he was joking and played along, but it quickly became clear that he wasn’t.  I confronted him and he finally said that he didn’t think it was working out. (Nice of him to make me be the one to force the issue.)

I drove home crying that night.  Although I can see it clearly now, at the time I was completely shocked.  I had truly thought everything was going so well – CLEARLY he was attracted to me!  We made out everywhere!  But I didn’t recognize that the physical side was just masking a lack of commonality, a lack of conversation, and a lack of true interest.

I had spent a month building up this guy in my mind, talking about him to my friends, imagining a future together.  When it ended abruptly, I felt like I had lost more than just a handful of dates, that I wasn’t good enough for him, pretty enough, whatever.  But at the end of the day, it wasn’t any of that.  We just weren’t right for each other.

And another one bit the dust…

Can you relate?  Comment below!

August Finish/September Start!

fall

Brr!  I walked outside this morning and there was a chill in the air!  It sure feels like the start of fall!  To me, fall says college football watching with nachos, chicken wings, and dip, long hikes through woods exploding with color, and cool nights under a blanket with a mug of hot tea.  Fall is by far my favorite season.

Rather than fall representing the end of growth, fall is energizing to me.  There is a quickening in the air, a sense that change is coming.

It is also a time for reflection.  The year is coming to a close.  All those great goals from January – what happened to them?  Am I closer to where I wanted to be?

Last month we looked at taming the tongue.  It’s no coincidence that this month we’re looking at managing conflict.  The two are intertwined; if we all had a lot more control over our tongue, we’d have a lot fewer conflicts.

In today’s world of phones, emails, texts, and social media, the opportunity for conflict is ever greater.  What’s more, taming the tongue is no longer valued as a sign of maturity and self-control.  Instead, now people start Facebook posts with “I just have to put this out there…” and post not-so-cryptic memes that are clearly aimed at specific people in their lives.

The Bible tells us that Satan is prowling like a lion, looking for opportunities to devour someone (1 Peter 5:8).  We are daily presented with these opportunities – that’s a fact.  We have to decide now who we’re going to be, how we’re going to respond.  We can follow the world and say what we want, what makes us feel good, show how right we are.  Kaboom, conflict.

Or we can do what Jesus prescribes.  Turn the other cheek, be a peacemaker, forgive even those who have wronged us.

When soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter responded with the way of the world – conflict.  He drew his sword and cut off a soldier’s ear.  But Jesus responded in the way of grace – he told Peter to put away the sword and he healed the soldier’s ear.

Are we more like Simon Peter?  Or are we more like Jesus?

Do our actions foster conflict?  Or do they foster peace?

As I said last month, the biggest source of conflict in my life is not my personal life, but my work life.  Last week, I had a situation that made me so upset.  I felt it was unfair and completely unjust.  I was so upset about it that it kept me up at night.  I wanted nothing more than to call out the person who I thought was being unjust.

But instead, I prayed for peace.  I prayed for self-control.  I prayed for wisdom.  I checked my motivations and found that what was driving me was really ego, and I knew that wasn’t right.

Rather than calling out the person and likely blowing up the situation into a larger conflict, I chose a different path.  The time for the conflict passed and peace reigned instead.

When Satan comes prowling, choose peace.

Write for MRP!

calling all

Have a story to share?  Want to get involved in ministry?  Love to write?  We’re looking for YOU!!!

We are looking for more women (and men!) who want to be monthly contributors to MRP!  We want to hear stories about dating, relationships, heartbreak, faith, and learning more about who we all are in Christ!  The more diversity of voices, the more that we’ll all have to share with one another!

If you’re interested, post in the comments below!