Making Peace with Humility
Peace in Relationships
Thea Koenig Burton
‘For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.’ (NRSV)
Reflection: “Have you ever won an argument? Really won an argument: not just worn down the other person to the point where they say, ‘Fine, you win,’ but actually changed that person’s mind enough that they agreed with you?”
This was the question from my minister’s sermon last week, and it got me thinking about conflict, where it comes from and how we resolve it. When we argue, it is because we think we are right, and we want to be heard? Perhaps we are afraid of losing control of our own life, or afraid of change. At the same time, we are forgetting that the other person thinks they are right, they want to be heard, and perhaps they are afraid of losing control — afraid of change.
The lyrics from Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” remind us:
People make mistakes holding to their own, thinking they’re alone. Honor their mistakes. Fight for their mistakes. Everybody makes one another’s terrible mistakes. Just remember: Someone is on your side, someone else is not. While we’re seeing our side, maybe we forgot: They are not alone. No one is alone.
It’s important, as peacemakers, to have enough humility to remember that we, too, are fallible. When having an argument, what would happen if each person stopped and asked themselves, “What if I’m wrong? What if I am in need of healing?”
If each of us did that, the argument might cease; a dialogue might begin. When I give up my need to be the arbiter of truth myself, that leaves more room to recognize shared Truth and realize a state of harmony. The motto of our church is, “You are not alone.” I think of it both as a comfort and a challenge to remain connected, to name evil when I see it and to keep the dialogue going, knowing that no one is alone.
Practice for Peacemakers: Prepare yourself to be wrong. Sometime in the next few days, it is bound to happen. When it does, don’t shy away from the moment. Embrace your inevitable human fallibility, and let both God’s grace and correction from those around you guide you toward the truth of that moment. Finally, always remember: Doing this once is easy; doing it consistently is a life’s worth of humble learning.)
Prayer: Dear God, we know that there are times when you call us to speak truth to power, and others when you call us to listen and learn. Help us to approach the work of peacemaking with humility, grace and an open mind.
Thea Koenig Burton is a speech-language pathologist, a community theatre actor/director and the founder of the Wolfville Theatre Collective. She has been a contributor to Christian education curriculum for the UCC and the periodical “These Days.” Thea is currently the volunteer children’s Sunday School music/drama facilitator for Orchard Valley United Church, New Minas, Nova Scotia.
This year’s Season of Peace Resources are designed to help participants explore practices for building peace on every scale. From the personal level to global issues, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Throughout the 29 days of the 2020 Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect upon:
Week 1 September 6–12: Peace Within
Week 2 September 13–19: Peace in Relationships
Week 3 September 20–26: Peace in Community
Week 4 September 27–October 3: Peace in the World
Final Day October 4: Holistic Peacemaking