My Word for the Year is Peace
The wavering flags hung from apartment balconies all over the city that morning. They were there in response to what was happening in the world that year. Their bright colors danced candidly with the wind, placidly pleading for consideration and offering a one-word solution in many languages: Pace. Pax. Peace. Frieden. Even back then as a young, single woman, riding my bike through the German city-streets, I felt the collective longing that the flags represented with every labored breath I pulled in, and each alternating push forward of my feet on pedals. It wasn’t just because I was in a country that knew the weight of war and still wept from it. Far from home and direction, I could feel the weight of my whole world pining for peace alongside of the wide world I was daily becoming more aware of. It’s been more than 15 years since then. Everything has changed, and yet, I still feel it.
These days I wake early searching for blankets. I silently beg the blurry clock as it comes into focus, longing for it to tell me I have more time before the kids wake up and the unavoidable cycle of chaos begins again. It feels like Time has tagged me on the shoulder and said, “You’re it! Get up and chase me!” Instead, I lay there, already losing a game of tag, longing for quiet, asking God for less sibling strife and evidence of the fruit of peace in our home that day.
Less than an hour later, the milk spills, one of my kids needs a towel, the other can’t find his book, the bus is coming, and I am already tired of my voice. I don’t remember if I’ve had anything to eat. I scroll the news and my social feeds and they look and sound glaringly similar to the fighting between my kids.
I remember when things were simpler and I rode my bike alone while living overseas. The colorful flags jolt my lopsided nostalgia and the words float back to the surface of my memory: Pace. Pax. Peace. Frieden. I imagine myself standing tall like a balcony, waving my own colorful flag above the noise, protesting my current surroundings: living antonyms to those very words. But the ache I remember reaches for the ache I feel today. They are twins in the same womb. Their mother, a woman of weary longing, waiting.
It’s deeper than momentary stillness, a lack of fighting, or evidence of fruit that I long for. It’s more than a smoother morning routine and reaches further than headlines full of stories about adults who never grew out of their childhood rivalries. I long for shalom in every tired part of my body, in every cluttered corner of my home, and in the city and country and world where I live; the globe of all people everywhere. I yearn for my world and the wide world to remember that we belong to one another, all uniquely made colorful in the vast image of God.
My theme of sorts for 2019 is peace. But this year, it’s not just a word, it’s The Word that was and still is. God may give us strength and bless us with supernatural peace that passes all understanding, but it’s not just for the sake of our circumstances and chaos to be smoothed out and the storm to cease for the day. It’s because true peace is found in one person who wants us to find Him and know Him. This year, I want to keep looking for Jesus when it feels like the boat I am on is going to go under and it seems as if He’s asleep and unable or unwilling to show up in the way I think we all need Him to. This year, I hope to keep reaching for Jesus, despite the crowded chaos of needs that fill my day and the hurts in my heart that are still bleeding, in need of His healing. This year, I hope to keep learning to imitate the ways He crossed over division lines and bent down low to write His own lines in the dirt, lifting shame from the faces of those considered unworthy: giving all a chance to see and lock eyes with Peace.
Maybe you are longing for the same things this year. Would you join me in praying for a year full of discovering Peace, himself? We’ve begun a new year, but the words in the last verse of this “O Come Emmanuel,” remains draped over my heart like a flag of hope for 2019. Would silently sing them with me, long after the tree is taken down and the merriment has moved on?
“O come, O King of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace”
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