By Libbo Crosswhite
Peace on Earth
This particular stage of motherhood with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old has brought on a new title for me: Peacekeeper. I spend the majority of my time lately refereeing our two kids. If I had a dime for every time I heard, “Mom, Russell hit me,” or “Ma! Mere not share!” I would finally be able to buy that fancy Roomba vacuum everyone raves about. In these moments of insanity, I realize I have such a skewed view of the word “peace.”
Our church just finished a series entitled “Lord, I am grateful” and it was a life-changing message for me because as much as I try to pretend that I am a laid-back mom, I continually allow worry to consume me when it comes to the big stuff. I find myself irrationally worried about my family’s health—Clay gets more than one or two headaches in a month’s time and it’s time for an MRI. I find myself avoiding the major news networks because I’m worried about the state of our nation and other world powers, so much so that I try to always keep enough canned goods in my pantry just in case something somehow prevents me from getting to the grocery store. However, during this 3-week series, I began to ask myself, “What if gratitude was the answer to my never-ceasing seeking of peace?”
In a world that often finds very little to agree on, I think we can all agree that 2017 has been a very—for lack of better word—weird year. Although mostly good, I found myself walking through some unexpected and equally challenging situations this past year. One particular night shines brighter than all the rest. As I was walking with a dear friend through deep family heartbreak, the only words she could muster in her immense sadness were, “I just want peace, Lord.” As I sat there, trying to comfort, I realized that nothing I had in me could console the utter despair of the situation and it killed me, because I, too, just wanted peace in such a seemingly impossible situation. Mike Breaux spoke to our church and poignantly put it this way, “The world views peace as the absence of conflict, but God’s definition is confidence and calm right in the middle of conflict.” What my dear friend, and maybe what all of us, wants is the world’s definition of peace. For conflict to cease. For all to be right in the world.
And this is where I always seem to mess it up. I believe the truth of God’s goodness and His ultimate plan to save us through his Son, but I have such a narrow view of God. I don’t allow his Lordship to dwell on every part of me—in the joyous times and the gut-punching ones, too. It isn’t until I take a full zoom out on my life that I realize both the good and the bad have tremendously shaped and blessed me in my journey with Christ. Jesus is Lord. Even in the uncertainties—the hard, family decisions we have to make, the heartbreaking losses and diagnoses that we endure, the attempts to mend the brokenness of divorce and tragedies, the misunderstandings and flaws of people, the terror and hate that we see in the headlines, in our newsfeeds, and far too often in our own backyard.
And that’s what brings me back to Christ and my own motherhood. I think about the times I feel most peace “full” and it’s an easy answer. It’s when I am the most connected to the certainty of Christ. It’s when I find ways to be grateful not FOR my difficulties, but IN my difficulties.
Every year, I find myself spending time meditating and studying Mary’s role in the birth of Jesus. A teenager who had the faith to listen to the call to bear the Son of Man fascinates me on so many levels. She had to settle for a manger for her first night with the King, but can you imagine the peace she must have felt the night Jesus was born? Being skin to skin with the Savior? Yes, conflict still abounded all around her—after all, she was an unwed teen who gave birth to a baby that some already wanted dead before his first birthday. I have this weird jealousy towards Mary. Her motherhood allowed for her to so closely be in relationship with Jesus. And yet, how easily I forget that Jesus’ death and resurrection actually afford me the same level of intimacy.
It is our human nature to complicate things, and yet Christianity makes things quite simple. How do we bring peace into our world? The same way that Mary did—by bringing Jesus into the world around us. By bringing Him into our homes, allowing Him to reign in our uncertainties, taking Him with us to our workplaces and allowing him into the depths of our despair.
I am encouraged by the fact that Jesus didn’t travel the world to change it; rather He changed the people who would change the world. That’s you and me. When did the world stop having real conversations about the gratitude we are surrounded in? Conflicted, yes. Overcome, never. So this Christmas season, may we pause, reflect, and find ways to bring Jesus into our many different worlds that so desperately need a source of peace.