“Be at peace among yourselves”
1 Thessalonians 5:23b
“May grace and peace be yours in abundance”
1 Peter 1:2c
Recently, as I was skimming through the list of various responses to Facebook posts that I had made that day I had a revelation. It sounds so simple and logical that I’m almost embarrassed to share it. While most of my friends on Facebook and I share the same political views, I do have several friends who are the polar opposite of me. I also have a couple of friends with whom I agree on 90% of issues but then we agree to disagree on a few others. We care deeply for each other and recognize that we don’t want these few disagreements to interfere with our friendship.
As I was skimming through the responses and seeing who had responded to particular posts I realized “we are arguing about the US Postal Service!” Suddenly I had this revelation that it all was so absurd. So I said to myself “I’m stopping now.”
The reality is that we are almost never going to change someone’s mind about an issue through a post on Facebook. No matter how accurate the information is that you post from mainstream news sources, your friends who get their information from their favorite sources are simply never going to say “Oh, I see. Your source for information trumps my source for information. I’ve changed my mind on this issue.” Instead, we play these ‘posting wars’ with each other. I quote my source and they quote their source and we each ‘dig in our heels’. Sometimes friends chime in to support you and it just escalates.
The other day it was like a bulb went off in my head when I realized a friend and I were arguing over the integrity and ability of the U.S. Postal Service. “Enough!” I said to myself. “This is absurd. I’m stepping back from posting articles that I’m hoping will change other people’s minds and/or just feed my own frustration.” I realized that much of my posting, in reality, serves no practical purpose and just keeps me stirred up inside.
It occurred to me that just because the world around me seemed to be seething with divisiveness it didn’t mean that I had to volunteer to play on one team or the other. I could choose to ‘sit this one out’. So that is what I am going to be attempting to do. Stop adding to the bickering and positioning. I want to step back and live instead inside the peace that Jesus offers us.
It’s not that I will stop caring about issues. It’s not that I will stop writing letters to legislators about various topics or stop talking to friends one on one. But I want to stop the useless arguing. I want to empty myself of the anger and irritation and instead fill those places in myself with the peace of Jesus in my heart, my mind and my soul.
I am wondering if any of you might be feeling trapped in a similar cycle of absurd arguing and division that is unsettling to your mind, body and spirit. It may not be caused by posting on Facebook. It may be coming from other areas of your life. But it is causing you angst and leaving you exhausted from turmoil and unsettledness within yourself and in the world around you.
Perhaps you would like to join me in stepping back from that place. Allowing ourselves to say “no” to all the divisiveness and anger around us and “yes” to the peace that Jesus promises us. Allowing ourselves to bath in that peace. Swim in that peace. Sit still in that peace as it flows around us and through us. In doing so perhaps we can then begin to radiate that peace outwards to those around us and help make our corner of the world a little bit more like the kingdom of God that Jesus promised. It has come, is here, and is coming.