This post is part of a #Bringthepeace series. #Bringthepeace is a call to action for individuals and congregations to show peace in their communities, introduced at MennoCon19 by Glen Guyton, MC USA executive director. To contribute your story, contact KaylaB@mennoniteusa.org.
Greg Battle has been a member at Lee Heights Community Church in Cleveland, Ohio, for about 18 years, where he serves as an elder and the audio/video coordinator.
All my life I have felt different. The things others were doing did not seem right. Although I was introduced to Jesus as a child, my questions went unanswered. Where did I fit in? All I wanted was to get along and be included in the world.
Church was an option for me. Education was a must. Family was the most important driving force in my household. My parents did their very best to give me the best chance to succeed in life. I was taught boundaries, responsibilities and respect for my elders and others. I was sheltered from quite a few adult experiences and allowed to be a child. I wanted so badly to be grown, but what I saw from adult actions did not align with their words.
So when my social interactions began outside of family, life changed drastically. How could you say something to me and not mean it? Why would you change directions once you had my confidence? Why did you ask for my opinion then tell me it was wrong? Emotions were always being amplified and distorted.
I realized I lived in a world that did not want peace. Vietnam was in the news, leaders were being killed, even in the schoolyard there were fights that flowed from school to home. I wanted to hide.
But alone in my books I found peace. Outside alone with nature I felt at peace. I acquired friends who saw something in my presence that made them comfortable with me. Despite all the survival tactics I learned and tried to copy, they stayed in touch with me and showed me other skills that helped me to survive, but I still felt alone. What was my real purpose for being in this world?
Praise be to God, he protected me from myself. God wanted me to care more for others. He brought people across my path continually that needed encouragement. I became a window clerk for the USPS. I had to interact with people of all backgrounds and cultures. Once, a customer came and stood across the lobby the day after the events of 9/11. He needed uplifting. He stated that he wanted to see some things had not changed. I discovered by being a window clerk, I touched many lives. Seeing my smile, standing in line reminiscing to the music being played, watching me deal with difficulties without losing my temper, showed them a peace that surpasses all understanding. They sought to feel good about themselves. In the midst of my confusion and inner turmoil, God used me.
God uses me still, now that I drive for Uber. This is a ministry tool for me. I never know who God will pick for me to love on. I have met college students, and I encourage them to develop a personal walk with God in their spiritual life. I have met foreigners and discussed their views about America and showed them the respect and love of my God by listening to them without judgement. I have explained Christianity from the Mennonite perspective of forgiveness and healing and reconciliation. I speak openly my perspective and humbly acknowledge I don’t know it all.
I share about the miracles that I get to see daily, seeing my still living parents, married 65 years. I walk a life in recovery from addiction, 33 years so far. My life has become a testimony to the love and peace of Jesus. God is a miracle worker that does not need the approval or permission of anyone here to change lives. He is the peace I bring with me every day.
Jesus is the example I try to reflect in all my dealings with others. Anyone and everyone — God has trusted me to touch their spirit — leaves me feeling a little better. Their smiles, laughter, their respect and encouragement to me are proof that at least for that moment, they received the peaceful presence that only a loving God can generate.
I live now to engage and energize your spirit. That spark God placed inside you to start you on your way. I am supposed to find a way to reach that spark. I can only get there through love.
I am called to love you. Regardless of race, creed, sexuality, religion or lack of religion. My duty is to love you, not love this or that. Every day I awake, I know, without a doubt, there is something for me to learn and something for me to do centered on bringing the peace of God. I am to bring peace with me and share it to all.
Bringing the peace means love you just the way you are.