In my church, there is something I always find very moving: we turn to each person around us and shake their hand, saying, “Peace be with you.” It is actually wishing all the people around you peace. I just think it is a great gesture, and I really focus on being sincere about it. I don’t want to just go through the motions; I want to mean it. I think, I am giving you peace from my heart to yours.
These days I must admit to being taken aback by the violence in the world, random killings, bombings, and as people say, “man’s inhumanity to man.” I am concerned about people on Facebook who are very cruel and vicious to anybody who doesn’t agree with them. It’s disturbing to see videos on social media of beatings in a fast food place with people cheering them on (which I refuse to watch). I know what they are about by reading the headline. The name calling, the vitriol, the violence, the hate, the spewing of violence based on any ideology.
What can we do about it? What can I do about it? What can you do about it? There is something small you can do.
You can give someone peace. What in the daylights am I talking about? Through your actions you can give people the best gift ever—peace.
Last night, my wife and I went out to dinner at a local restaurant on a weeknight, and it was busy and the restaurant was packed. The server came over, and she was clearly frazzled. They were down two servers, and she had a ton of tables. My wife and I both said, “Take your time. No hurry.” At the end of the meal, she said she “felt terrible” about the slow service. We said, “No worries! It’s all good!” Don’t miss this point—we could see her relax. We helped her feel better, we gave her peace of mind, and we saw her visibly relax. Some guys reading this would say, “I am going to chew out that server for being slow!” So now let’s review: (1) you have gotten mad (you were there to relax—right?); (2) you have gotten her upset; and (3) you have created a scene for those around you. Maybe you have heard this term—you are disturbing the peace. Okay, maybe not in legal terms—but what I am saying is we are bringing tension, aggravation, hostility, and not peace. You are not being “my peace I give you; my peace I bring you.” You are bringing the opposite.
Here are some things to think about:
Traffic—The next time someone cuts you off in traffic, just smile and wave and send them a good thought and wish them peace. Here is the idea: you are not only sending them peace, but creating peace in yourself and deciding to be calm and not irritated. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”
That stupid person at work—There is that person at work who just irritates everyone. C’mon, you know the one I am talking about. They are just so irritating! Instead of being irritated, why not give them peace? Why not be nice to them? I was doing a training program for one of my clients, and there was one person who was irritating, blunt, disruptive, and clearly agitating everyone. What did I do? I was kind, patient, and gave him respect. I sent peace his way. Over the months, I eventually won him over, helped him calmed down, and he actually told management that he really liked the program and me! (He doesn’t like anything.) Now, some would say, “Hey, if this person has a big mouth and an attitude, give it right back to him! An eye for an eye, right?” As Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
Your loved ones—When at home and your loved one makes you mad or irritated, don’t get irritated back. Just think how you can give them peace and love. After all, isn’t that what we want for those we love the most?
What would happen if we all made a commitment to do that? Every day?
Henri Nouwen once said, “Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”
Well said Henri, well said.