Heather Garner is one of the strongest women I know. She loves passionately, listens carefully and always looks for ways to help people. She is a great mom who is raising her kids to live in the grace and truth of Jesus. She is the Care Director at Cape Christian, leads the Prayer Team and so much more. She is discovering her voice and allowing God to use it to bring freedom and hope to others. I know you will love her post on plastic peace today as much as I do. – Cindy Grasso
Plastic Peace by Heather Garner
My mama was charmed by her barefooted flower child. She came complete with braids in her hair, hemp jewelry, and a long flowy skirt. I always loved to dance and would twirl my hippy-dippy self around in our yard. If selfies existed in the late 80’s I surely would have posed in my John Lennon glasses while throwing out peace signs. When my mama’s eyes, gleaming with love, would catch the sunlight just right it put one in mind of an angel. “You were born 20 years too late, child,” she laughed from her porch swing.
In my early years, my super intelligent (insert eye roll and sarcastic tone) concept of peace was this: Everyone is good at heart. Life is good. There is no evil. Make peace not war. Just say yes. Avoid conflict. My passive, free-spirited, go-with-the-flow personality prefers not to rock the boat. You could find me zooming in the opposite direction of conflict or uneasy conversation. Truth be told, I was extremely quiet and shy. Struggling with social anxiety and low self-esteem, it was hard for me to talk to people, period. Music, writing, painting, and dance helped me express myself. I hid behind sports and dance for years.
I wanted to live peacefully and get along with others. I loved the idea of everyone being so happy together (Que music: Happy Together by The Turtles) Even Jesus states during His counter-cultural sermon in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” right? But in my quest for peace, I pretended everything was okay when it wasn’t. I became a “peace faker” instead of a peacemaker. I lived in denial and resorted to passive aggressiveness. Outside I was smiling, inside I was dying.
In my relationship with Jesus over the last 10 years, He has lovingly challenged my idea of peace. He has gently guided me to step out of denial and into His definition of being a true peacemaker.
Jesus, The Prince of Peace, (Isaiah 9:6) is the ultimate mediator who made peace between God and man. He speaks the truth in love. Our Savior is so very good at this tenacity of truth and love. He has the boldness, to be honest about the truth and the maturity to be attentive instead of defensive. Jesus confronts sin, sets people free, shows them the true Way, and saves lives by being willing to rock the boat to give lasting peace.
I have learned what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:9 when He stood on a mountain top and talked about blessedness in this vain world.
My sweet friend, let’s be clear about what it means to be a peacemaker to Jesus:
Engages in conflict and tension
Is never passive
Is not easily offended
Shows strong vulnerability
While in a disagreement, you can be honest about what you believe to be true while still giving value to the other person and to what they are saying.
When dealing with a friend who is struggling, you can pat them on the back and be about their feelings by not being honest with them, or you can be about their freedom by letting them know what you see and how it’s affecting them (Ephesians 4:15).
There’s a time to let things go, but there is also a time to speak up and take action. I used to live in a pretend world, walking around with no backbone and turning a blind eye to avoid conflict and confrontation. This plastic lifestyle may seem harmless. However, this passivity can become a melting pot of injustice, deep resentment, bitterness, and relational breakdown.
Here’s the moral of the story, my friend.
Be a peacemaker, not a peacefaker. The two may look similar on the outside, but only one way can experience true inner tranquility of the soul.
The one with a Father in Heaven that loves her ridiculously.
The one with a God that shields her heart and mind.
The one with a Protector stands at attention to guard and guide her.
The one that is thankful even in the storm.
The one with a peace that surpasses understanding.
The one twirling around barefoot and throwing out true peace signs.
Prayer: Father God, thank you that you give us the mind of Christ. You go before us and give us all we need to move forward in peace. Give us the courage and boldness to speak the truth in love to one another. Help us to be peacemakers. Encourage us to be people who produce the right relationships in every sphere of our lives. “May the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, to which indeed we were called in one body, and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)