Meghan Tschanz

love shines on

Peacekeeping vs. peacemaking: why the difference matters

The other week I posted an article, “The Church is Not God“, and it took every ounce of courage I had to make it public. Before I posted it, I sent it to three different friends: asking for their advice, if I could say it gentler, if I was respectful and kind in it.

I knew that what I was saying would ruffle some feathers, and everything in me didn’t want to post it.

You see, I’ve had some really terrible experiences posting things people didn’t like— ranging from a mean comment to people basically disowning me. And I was scared of that happening again.

Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the words needed to be shared. I had started writing the blog days before but abandoned it in fear of how it would be received. Still, the words kept coming to me even as I tried to ignore them and busy myself with something else. I felt God nudging me, “finish it.”

So I did, and the only mean comments I got were left on To Save A Life when they had republished it (but they were nasty).

On the flipside, I had many people reach out to me telling me that they felt the same way, but they were too afraid to say it. They, too, had been ostracized by people when they had shared similar beliefs, and they were glad I had the courage to say something.

But even after their encouragement, I still felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, for someone I love to be really disappointed in me for the beliefs I held.

The next day Dustin went to a conference with our Church where we were allowed to sign-up for different labs, immediately, the class from “Peacekeeping to Peacemaking” stood out to me, and I signed up.

When I walked into the small classroom, I was stoked to see a young, black, woman would be teaching us. I knew given her race and sex, that she likely had to do some overcoming in her life, and I was eager to learn from her.

And while there were many valuable things I took away from the class, perhaps the most powerful was the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking:

Peacekeeping is characterized by…

  • silence
  • pulling away from people unlike you
  • embracing the hostility of maintaining the status quo
  • peacekeeping seeks to protect and love oneself

Peacemaking is…

  • humility
  • truth-telling and truth-receiving, even when it’s hard
  • actively building bridges to understand people unlike you
  • relies heavily on the abundance of God- there’s enough room an love to protect yourself and others

It’s definitely easier to be a peacekeeper, to stay silent and keep the status-quo. It’s easier to not ruffle any feathers— but it’s also the easiest way to make sure that change doesn’t happen. It has a way of allowing the worst parts of our society to flourish.

Take racism, for example. It’s a sticky subject, so most of us don’t want to talk about it. As a result, a lot of racism goes ignored, or we don’t listen to the times we hear of it.

Sure, we hear about it in the news, but we tend to not trust it when we don’t personally have any experience with it, or hear about it from someone we know. *sidenote: the reason we might not have any experience with racism is because we like to surround ourselves with people who look and act just like us. Try spending time with people from different races or political beliefs, you might be surprised by what we hear.*

What about politics? I know I hate talking about politics and that’s probably because republican or democrat, the other side villainizes the other. I see a lot of conservative people calling liberals “libtards” and demonizing them for different beliefs. I see it also comes from the liberal side, saying Republicans are greedy cavemen that refuse to listen.

Maybe we are so busy calling each other names and talking that we don’t stop long enough to learn to listen to one another. Instead of disagreeing with one’s beliefs, we villainize the whole person who thinks differently than us.

No wonder people are afraid to talk to speak the truth.

But peacemaking begs for something different: actions, words, humility. It doesn’t call names and it doesn’t boast. Peacemakers just speak the truth, even if it’s hard, even if it won’t be well-received.

When I think about peacemakers I think about people like Jesus, MLK Jr, Jenn Hatmaker, William Wilberforce, and Malala Yousfazai. They were people who saw something was wrong with their societies and stood up to the status-quo with humility. In doing so, they pushed the human race forward by fighting for the rights of others.

Peacemakers believe in causes bigger than themselves. They use their voice on behalf of others, and they are always attacked for it.

Jesus and MLK Jr. were both killed, Malala was shot in the face, Jenn Hatmaker and William Wilberforce received death threats and were ousted from their own societies. Their lives were and are not peaceful, but they changed things by telling the truth when silence would have been easier.

And that’s just hard because the more I read the Bible and the more I learn about God, the more I think he wants us all to be peacemakers: people willing to speak up on the behalf on others, even if it costs us.

I know, for sure, that God has called me to be a peacemaker, and quite honestly, that terrifies me. So as class was wrapping up I shot up my hand to ask a question, what came out was a bit of word vomit:

“How can you say things in a way that people will listen? And how can you say things so they will respond with kindness? It’s just that when I have spoken up, people have ostracized me. People who I thought loved me ousted me from their club, they told me I wasn’t a Christian.”

As I asked this tears filled my eyes, and my voice broke. Great, now I was crying in front of the whole class.

But she didn’t judge me, instead, she looked at me with compassion. A slight smile on her lips that told me she knew exactly what I was talking about and she told me the hard truth that I had known along.

“You can’t make them listen, but you can tell the truth. It’s like Jesus says, ‘whoever has ears, let them hear.'” I nodded my head and she added, “I’m sure you already know this, but with you being a writer and speaking up, it’s not going to get any easier. I recommend you find some black women activists to connect with because they have been dealing with this for a long, long time.”

And she’s right, it’s not going to get easier.

As I write, as I tell the truth, people are going to get angry, but that doesn’t mean I should stop, it means that I am saying something that is creating change, and that’s a good thing.

After I asked my question, a small group of women in the class asked for my blog, they wanted to read the kind of stuff I wrote. I gave them my info, thanked the teacher, and left for my next class.

Hours later, after lunch and some worship, I escaped to the bathroom when one of the girls in the class came up to me.

“I just want you to know, that I read what you wrote and I can’t tell you how much it meant to me. It’s because of people like you that I haven’t given up on the church, so thank you. Thank you for saying what a lot of us have been feeling but have been too afraid to say.”

And suddenly, the mean comments I had received were a small price to pay knowing the power that telling the truth had held for people like her.

So you can expect much of that in this blog: truth-telling. I’ll try my very best to say everything with humility and grace, but even with that, I know some things I say won’t be popular. I know that sometimes something I say might be misguided, or that I might fail in my delivery, but it’s still better than silence.

This is a place where I will try my best to lend my voice on behalf of others, to make their problems my problems, and try, with one blog at a time, to make the world a better place.

And with that, let me say: I know that peacemaking comes at a cost, but I am willing to pay it.

About Meghan Tschanz

I believe in love, empowerment. and adventure. The kind of love that believes in the face of adversity, the empowerment that allows people to step into their destiny, and the kind of adventure that leaves your heart pounding in your chest. I write because I want to remind us all that there is so much more to life.

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7 Replies

  1. Dustin

    We need more brave voices like yours in this world!

    1. Meghan Tschanz

      always can count on the hubby for support!

  2. Debra Haefele

    Did your class talk about the beatitudes where Jesus spoke that beautiful verse? Because it was all about His teachings ,the Good News, peacemaking in their hearts ,”Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
    Matthew 5:9 NASB
    Giving the good news to them so they will have true peace,becoming a son of God. He also said “I did not come to bring peace.””Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father , and a daughter against her mother , and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law ; and a man ‘ s enemies will be the members of his household . “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
    Matthew 10:34‭-‬39 NAS
    So giving the truth will bring heartache because of them rejecting Him. Hoping that’s the truth you are speaking about.

    1. Meghan Tschanz

      Hi Deb, In this specific post I am talking about the truth of injustice that other’s face. It’s about lending your voice on behalf of others, as Jesus so often did. I am talking about demonstrating Jesus’s love by showing we care for other’s injustice, and in that way showing the love of Jesus as being a real and tangible thing. Hope that brings clarity 🙂

      1. Deb

        Thanks, Yes, definitely and hoping it truly leads to seeing Jesus in us and leading them to true peace, Him

  3. Darla

    I love this post. Thanks for sharing the difference in peace keeping and peace making. Thank you for saying the hard stuff. Thank you for being true to yourself but more importantly for being true to your Lord Jesus.

    1. Meghan Tschanz

      Thanks Darla, I so appreciate you and all of the encouragement you’ve given over the years!

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