It was December 23. “Christmas Eve Eve.” Also called “Christmas Adam”—because Adam comes before Eve. Also called “Father’s Day”—because it’s the day a lot of Dads finally go Christmas shopping.
Whatever you call it, it was the day my anger boiled over.
What I was angry about I will not go into in this blog post. Suffice it to say that it had to do with what we call the “Culture Wars” and the division, polarization, and general nastiness that have resulted.
I was mad. I was fuming. Looking back, I can identify all kinds of other things that were really behind the anger—grief … sadness … disillusionment …FEAR.
At the time I wasn’t in touch with all those things. I was only aware that I was angry.
The anger bubbled within me for several days, and then on December 23 it boiled over. In my anger I said something terrible—something I now regret deeply—to someone I love very much.
When I heard what came out of my mouth, I was horrified. Thank God for that. Thank God I could still feel remorse. Thank God that I had not gone so deep into that dark place that I tried to justify myself.
I asked for forgiveness, and the person was loving enough to grant it. But as I drove across town to meet someone for lunch, I wept. Where I had been angry, now I was heartbroken. How did I get to that dark place?
And what do I need to do to keep from ever going back there again?
In my family we have a tradition, started by my son. Every year around New Year’s, he encourages us to choose a word for the year. Something to give focus and direction to your hopes and dreams for the year.
(If you want to learn more about this practice, click here.)
This year, choosing my one word was easy. It sprang forth from the depths of my soul.
Spurred negatively by my frightening experience of anger—and spurred positively by my desire to follow Jesus in this day and time—my word for 2020 is PEACE.
I want to cultivate peace within myself. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27).
I want to live at peace with others. “…as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
And I want to work for peace in this world. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
Specifically, I want to be a peacemaker in the church. This year I am dedicating myself to strengthening the conflict transformation part of my ministry. I’ve received training from the Center for Congregational Health. I’ve been certified to lead Arbinger Institute’s “Outward Mindset” training. And next month I’m attending mediation skills training from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center.
I want to be at peace. I want to live at peace. And I want to make peace.
And this is a calling that’s as strong as any I have felt in a long time.
(And one evidence of that is the fact that even though the things I’m writing about happened two months ago, the feelings are just as deep today as they were then!)