If you have been reading along with #25daysofpeace, you may feel like I have set the bar for peace really high. Some of the topics we have covered involve entire nation states and whole people groups. It just doesn’t seem feasible that we as individuals would be able to do something to change the world at large around us. I realize that some of the articles have put forth some very lofty goals, and sometimes I get a bit intimidated by them, and sometimes I even end up depressing myself when I face the enormity of some of the problems. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the hurt surrounding us, so I want to tell a quick and true story to help refocus the discussion a little.
I have a friend who has a lot of different responsibilities. She is a wife, a mother, a student, a friend, a volunteer at church, a hair stylist, and a server at Pizza Hut. In the years I have known her, I can count on one hand the number of times she has been in a bad mood and it has been obvious to those around her. We are not always in the same place, but when we are, she is remarkably energetic and uplifting. She seems to thrive on doing her best to take care of others and recharge their emotional batteries. My friend could probably have a book written about all of her adventures, this is just a small bit of one of her stories.
She told us a story about a family she serves at Pizza Hut. They are known by the staff as being difficult to serve, and are poor tippers. My friend has developed a relationship with the family by being their server fairly regularly. I don’t know the family in question, and I want to avoid sharing details or airing others dirty laundry in public (Especially when I don’t know whose dirty laundry it is!) but I will say that my friend made it her personal mission to go out of her way to be kind and respectful to this family.
Without going into personal details, it will be a little hard to impress upon you the level of service my friend brings to this family. It goes WAY beyond her job description, and the family has noticed and began asking for my friend as their server. If you have figured out who my friend is (if you know her, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out) you can ask her about it sometime. Suffice to say, my friend works hard to please, with little expectation of reward.
The important thing is not the details of the story, and the details could probably distract you from the critical piece of the puzzle.
My friend serves where she is.
She doesn’t have to go over the ocean to save starving children in Syria, though she would be great at it. My friend hasn’t made repeated trips to Washington D.C. to lobby her congressperson to change a law she sees as unjust. She doesn’t complain about the nature of her job, and wish for more respect or recognition, she serves the people she meets, and she serves them where she is.
It is easy to look at conflicts all over the world and become discouraged by the seeming impossibility of affecting the outcome, it may be even easier to overlook the opportunities you have to make a difference at home. The problem with making a positive difference in the world around you is that it is very often disguised as hard work.
Pursuing peace is hard work, and you can not expect to attain peace without making some sacrifices of physical or emotional comfort. My friend knows this first hand, and she has lost many hours of sleep to bring peace to someone in need.
Some might call my friend a super woman, (and frankly…I wonder if they are right!) but the other important detail to remember is that she uses the strength she has. She doesn’t wait until she is well rested or feeling bored, but dives right in with the strength she has at the moment it is needed. You can spend your whole life waiting to feel ready to do something, or you can do what you can, when you can. I think that to honor our pursuit of peace, we must take the steps we can take on our own. When the time comes for a larger, impossible seeming step, we may find that our strength has grown through repeated use. We may find a community of like-minded people willing to serve with us, or we may just find a supernatural strength from outside of ourselves to fill in the gap between the strength we have and the strength we need.
Pursue peace, right where you are, with the strength you have, and the world can be a better place!