Resilient peacemaking

Jason Boone is coordinating minister of the Peace and Justice Support Network.

Are you exhausted yet? Exhausted from constantly looking at your phone for the latest news, from the constant stress that comes from uncertainty, from the emotion we feel for the most vulnerable in our society, from the feeling that you should be doing something, although it’s not always clear what that something is?

You’re not alone. 2017 is still new and shiny, but it has already taken a toll on many of us. And there’s 10 and a half months left.

I’ve written before about how the recent presidential election brought to light deep seated problems in our nation. And how, as followers of Jesus, we must stand with the poor, the weak, the marginalized. We must stand with those who work for peace and justice.

As the weight of these obligations hang heavy and exhaustion sets in, how do we keep moving forward? That’s the question I’ve been asking many friends and people I respect who have found a measure of resilience in these times.

Here are a few ideas gleaned from their experiences to help you continue in your peacemaking, even in these trying times.

  1. Find a spiritual practice. Contemplative prayer, reading Scripture, and different forms active prayer are a few examples of spiritual practices, but there are many more. Gardening, walking, wood working, singing are others. Whatever you do that takes you outside of yourself and closer to the rhythms of God is a spiritual practice. Whatever your practice, do it regularly. The news cycle will continue to spin and the problems of the world will persist, but you will be in better position to respond when you stake out time for experiencing God in restorative ways.
  2. Church! “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another …” I’ve heard many accounts of how church has become dramatically more important for people over the past few months. It’s still the same church — in some places flawed, at sometimes frustrating — as before, but the need for community, the joy of worshipping God together, the encouragement found in Christ is vital nourishment for those engaged in seeking justice in the world.
  3. Engage in some form of accountability. When you get tired, your willpower is the first thing to go. You ever eat a big bunch of broccoli at night when you’re tired? Nope, but that is when cookies and ice cream come out. As the urgency of action wears on and the exhaustion sets in, all of our good intentions to be active and involved can weaken. So we need the renewal of spiritual practices and the encouragement of the church. We also need some accountability to help us stay focused and continue the work we are called to when distractions arise or fatigue sets in.

This accountability can be found in small groups like Peace Circles or can done as a church community, as in the Public Call to Protect all People.

This Call is to congregations to deepen engagement in their local communities, focused on four points:

  • We will protect and support the worth and rights of all people, including marginalized persons who are targeted, discriminated against or singled out by hate crimes or state-sponsored/sanctioned violence;
  • We will oppose the aspirations of those who seek U.S. global domination through the use of propaganda, inciting terror, military threats, regime change and war. We will support instead the practices of diplomacy and negotiation, which lead to peace.
  • We will support a just economic order — one that is sustainable as a servant of the people amid the changes in climate that have already begun.
  • To keep these promises, we will reach across lines of creed, class, ethnicity, race and party preference in a spirit of empathy and learning, seeking relationships of solidarity with other groups.

The Public Call is a powerful tool for churches to embrace. While it leaves plenty of room for churches to act in unique ways, it helps focus on major themes of peace and justice that cry for attention.

Whatever form it takes, a supportive community that provides accountability will help you develop as a long-term peacemaker.

I hope these ideas will help encourage and maintain your peacemaking in the weeks and months ahead.