Sunday, March 23, 2014

Peace

Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.

"These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
John 14:23-31

Though in the news, we have heard a great deal about the possibility of a major war as Russia invades the Crimea, but peace of mind has been more on my mind the last few days.  Though I am in the closet and love a lie that I despise because of the small minds of some "Christians" who would cost me my job if I were out, I so have places, friends' homes, where I can go and be my true self and be as out and open as I want.  I don't have to guard what I say.  I can make a joke about my sexuality or sometimes even a comment that might seem crude to some, but I don't have to filter myself, which is something I hate to have to do.  I much prefer honesty.  I can't tell you how much I hate guarding every word I say, fearing that it could be taken the wrong way (if you too are in the closet, you probably understand).

The other night I was over at one of my friend's house.  There were five of us there, including me, and the other four are well aware of the fact that I'm gay.  I've never known of any of them having a problem with it. We were joking around and I agreed, again jokingly, with one of the ladies who said that she'd fallen in love many time but often because the man was beautiful.  I think with most people it would have been seen as an innocent comment about shallowly falling in love with a beautiful person.  Gender was not really mentioned and I didn't mean it that way.  The whole thing was a joking conversation but apparently it hit the nerve of the husband of another female friend of mine who was there.  He asked me not to mention my sexuality around him.  I was absolutely floored because his wife had just been trying to convince me to go to church with them because there were a lot of gay people who went to their church.  I just couldn't understand how one minute it was okay for his wife to tell me that I should come to church with them to meet a man, and then it was wrong for me to say even the slightest thing.

So I have been struggling to understand how I feel about this revelation from him.  I have never said much about my sexuality around him because I've never felt comfortable, but I have made a comment here and there and it never seemed to bother him.  This wasn't even meant to be an overt comment.  Is oxidize with these people quite often, because I like them and have always felt comfortable around them.  I was a bit quiet the rest of the night after that incident, but it has weighed heavily on my mind.  So as I was trying to figure out what to write about today, as I often do, I try to address a problem of my own by turning to the Bible and hoping that it will help,others as well.  So I decided to do some research on peace of mind.  I am thinking that this may be a series of post that will continue for the next several Sundays.  I need some peace of mind because right now my heart hurts and I feel as if I've been kicked in the gut.  So with that introduction, I want to talk about the peace that God can bring us.

The Hebrew Bible uses a familiar but significant word, shalom. In its purest sense, shalom means "peace." The connotation is positive. That is, when someone says, "Shalom," or, "Peace unto you," it doesn't mean, "I hope you don't get into any trouble"; it means, "I hope you have all the highest good coming your way."

Most people in our world don't understand peace as a positive concept. All they know is the negative aspect of peace, which is merely the absence of trouble. The definition of peace in many languages of the world illustrates that. For example, the Quechua Indians in Ecuador and Bolivia use a word for peace that literally translates, "to sit down in one's heart." For them peace is the opposite of running around in the midst of constant anxieties. The Chol Indians of Mexico define peace as "a quiet heart." Those may be beautiful ways to put it, but they still seem to leave us with only the negative idea that peace is the absence of trouble.

Close to the meaning of the Hebrew word shalom is the word used by the Kekchi Indians of Guatemala, who define peace as "quiet goodness." The term they use conveys the idea of something that is active and aggressive, not just a rest in one's own heart away from troublesome circumstances.

The biblical concept of peace does not focus on the absence of trouble. Biblical peace is unrelated to circumstances; it is a goodness of life that is not touched by what happens on the outside. You may be in the midst of great trials and still have biblical peace. Paul said he could be content in any circumstance; and he demonstrated that he had peace even in the jail at Philippi, where he sang and remained confident that God was being gracious to him. Then when the opportunity arose, he communicated God's goodness to the Philippian jailer, and brought him and his family to salvation. Likewise, James wrote, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials" (James 1:2).

Where does a man find the kind of peace that is not just the absence of trouble--the kind of peace that cannot be affected by trouble, danger, or sorrow? It is ironic that what is surely the most definitive discourse on peace in all of Scripture comes from the Lord Jesus on the night before He died in agony. He knew what He was facing, yet He still took time to comfort His disciples with the message of peace:
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)
The peace Jesus is speaking of enables believers to remain calm in the most wildly fearful circumstances. It enables them to hush a cry, still a riot, rejoice in pain and trial, and sing in the middle of suffering. This peace is never by circumstances, but instead affects and even overrules them.

So remember the positive meaning of peace.  I find it best to see the positive instead of the negative, even if at times, it can be very difficult.  Jesus left us with peace, and we should embrace it.

5 comments:

EthanJM said...

I'm sorry this happened to you especially among friends who you believe accept you and where you feel you can be yourself. While many people are becoming more accepting, I think most still prefer a "don't ask don't tell" policy. Perhaps your friend's husband IS accepting but is still uncomfortable with discussing same-sex topics or innuendo. Perhaps he regrets what he said, but like most men have a hard time apologizing. Regardless I think you will need to approach him and ask why he made that comment to you and explain why it hurt especially because this group of friends you consider safe territory where you can be yourself. Until you have that discussion I don't believe you'll be able to just put it behind you and find peace. I know that will be a very difficult thing to do, and I'm not sure if I could do it myself, but it might be the only way to find peace and to ensure that your group of friends remains a place where you can be yourself and "out". Love you ❤️

silvereagle said...

Ethan has provided words of wisdom....a good idea, but likely an uncomfortable one for you and for the other guy as well...

Travis Crockett said...

On the peace/shalom issue: A Jewish friend once told me that shalom is the peace you have when children are running through the house laughing and the table is being spread for a big get-together and the adults are talking away a mile a minute and there are noises and smells from the kitchen and babies are crying and parents are cooing and bouncing them up and down. Not the peace of the grave, that's for sure!

As for the other, I wish you well. I do not have any strategy to offer, beyond saying that compassion will make whatever you do better for you and for anyone you choose to engage in conversation about this issue.

Having said that, I think your earlier post about "gracefully letting go what is not meant for you" may help shed light. The question is whether what-is-not-meant has to do with your own comfort level or not.

The truth, SomeOne said, will set you free. What we learn is that it often hurts like hell first.

Jay M. said...

I know exactly what you mean about having to examine every word, every phrase, every look and possible comment. It was so much fun at bloggerpalooza to be able to ogle a good looking waiter, and point him out to others (straight and gay) and not worry about ridicule (other than "get over him, Jay, he's too young for you" - said with a smile on their face). Yesterday, I visited with a friend I hadn't seen since before I started coming out. I was back to the "filter mode".

But I feel like I am much more at peace now, even with the "sometimes on, sometimes off" necessity of the filter. I think that knowing and accepting myself for who I am helps a lot with that.

I think Ethan's advice was sage. It can't hurt any more than it already does to ask your friend what he meant, why he said it. I hope you can find the strength to do so.

Shalom <3
Jay

S A Robin said...

I wonder if I'm poking my fool head where it don't belong but I think what puzzled you about the husband was why he'd say something now? I'm guessing that even though there are gay people at their church that he doesn't support the concept. I'm also guessing that his wife has no issues with homosexuality and that he's just been supporting her because it's easier than picking a fight. And in the heat of the moment he slipped and allowed what has been in his heart to say for a time. I watch television shows with insensitive men and I have male friends who are as block headed as can be either not sharing their feelings for a very long time or not seeing their wives are as Scripture puts it "weaker." (1 Pe 3). The way we perceive weaker isn't right. It means they are more emotional and more sensitive where typical men are less in touch with anything beyond their limited sphere of reality. I've always been cursed with sensitivity well beyond my limited sphere. But I'm just trying to impart that I know why men are labelled with such a stigma. And I could be misreading this man. He may not have any internal turmoil on the topic and may simply have been tired and sprung to the aid of his wife out of course. I'd say that you are the only one continuing to dwell on this matter. I know that you are emotionally wired this way but try not to focus on this or give it any more focus than you already have. Your pensive side is overriding the reality of the event. Meantime..or the next time you get together with them do not ignore your intuition about this man. You said yourself that you've never trusted your ability to receive a 'peaceful handshake' from him so follow it. It's not that you cannot have compassion for him b/c his dishonesty as you put it is similar to your own. He is forced not to convey his true feelings and you are forced not to be able to live in your reality either. Pray for him when you pray for yourself. God will give you insight. As for the fears or anxieties that you are having about what he might say beyond that group, it would not pay you to focus on what ifs b/c it simply leads to more anxieties...to Satan's lies. This is where it says in James 4 submit yourself to God, Resist the devil and he will flee from you. The reason you may have been having anxiety is b/c of your fear. You are forced to live in that fear b/c of your job and you actually take that fear with you even when you think you are letting your hair down. Resist the devil's mental traps. Trust God and He will always take care of your needs. I sincerely hope that you found a close friend and talked this through b/c of the lack of intimacy that we can express like this. Let the word of God dwell in you richly!