I am a middle child and therefore a peacemaker. Peace is my pursuit. I like for everyone to get along and my greatest preference is to live with smooth waters. Conflict may as well be Pink Eye because it is avoided at all costs. The anxiety inside of me becomes almost intolerable when conflict arises. I am not very good at it and my avoidance of it hasn’t made me any better at it. Peace at any cost, is not peace, my friends. It has a price and I have paid a lot. I can almost guarantee that it’s cost my fellow peacemakers too. Here are at least 5 prices the Peacemaker pays.
Don’t you hate it when you have a front row seat to someone else’s conflict? Welcome to my breakfast yesterday. Some friends and coworkers got together for a meeting and conflict reared its ugly head. The tension in that meeting could be cut with a knife! It was thick! Apparently, my breakfast was the most fascinating thing I have ever seen as I barely tore my eyes from it. I just wanted to crawl under the table, or be called to a family emergency, or mercy of all mercies, have a violent illness take over me. I found both sides to be valid and it was clear what both sides were. They were fighting to be right rather than listen and acknowledge the other. Despite my “genius” insights and ability to see the big picture; guess how much I participated in this group discussion? You guessed it…zip, zilch, nada, bupkiss.
I have hated conflict since I was a little girl. I learned that conflict wasn’t a very good thing because I didn’t get to see healthy conflict very often and never learned that it could be a good thing. However, my job requires being very comfortable with conflict and confrontation, especially if I want to be any good at what I do. As evidenced by my awkward breakfast, I still have a ways to go despite some growth in this area. My desire for peace has cost me. There are certainly benefits to learning when to “pick your battles” but that’s not what I’m talking about here. A person who never has any battles is paying for it and I’ve paid, my friends. I’ve paid a lot.
Cost # 1: Dishonesty
Peacemaking, avoidance of conflict, or whatever you want to call it, makes me dishonest. I’m a big fat liar and a fabulous “omit-er” when I choose peace over truth. Either way, I’m in trouble. I will agree with someone or something, when inside, I really don’t. My opinion or a different take on something remains unspoken and I shut up. I would rather agree, accommodate, or remain quiet rather than ruffle feathers or make ripples. This is a problem, people.
Cost #2: Inauthenticity
Second, peacemaking makes me inauthentic. This piggy backs off of dishonesty but is distinctive enough to separate. If I’m agreeing with everybody for the sake of peace when do I get to impact my world? I allow every one else to be a force in my life and I remain milk toast in mine. For the sake of peace, my thoughts, my opinions, and my desires get swept under the rug. What a waste! Out of the ba-jillion different combinations of DNA that could have occurred at the moment of my conception, it turned out to be me. Fearfully and wonderfully (albeit imperfectly) made! I get this one shot at life. My belief is that I don’t get a do-over. I have a duty to make it count. That has to mean something! I am inauthentic and disengenuine when I shut up. This is a very bad thing.
Cost #3: No Intimacy
My need for peace prevents intimacy. Intimacy is often built through conflict not just happy “get along” days. People learn that they can be genuine and still accepted in healthy conflict. Honest and still loved. Different and still valuable. You can be you in healthy conflict and a sense of safety increases as you find your partner isn’t running for the hills. If I’m just the “yes” woman to the people in my life, my needs don’t get met which creates distance. Distance is not intimacy and peace is not safety. Every good relationship requires conflict because it means that you are being honest and authentic (essential components to a well-lived life). Peacemaker’s lose this opportunity.
Cost #4: Low Self-Esteem
Fourth, peacemakers/avoiders of conflict learn that they don’t matter. I am bound for some low self-esteem if I shut up long enough, be inauthentic long enough, and lack intimate relationships. The message, every single time I am quiet or dishonest is my thoughts and opinions aren’t as important as someone else’s ruffled feathers. Nice message, huh?
Cost #5: Selfishness
Last, my peacemaking makes me pretty dang selfish. My need for everyone to get along is really about my need to not feel uncomfortable and less about what is the right thing for the other person. I don’t often give my husband a chance to love me better because I don’t express it, I stay comfortable. I stay comfortable rather than tell my friends that they might be misjudging a situation. My co-worker goes on her merry way when they make a snarky comment and I remain silent. No sirree, my comfort is paramount. Yet, I believe that its an obligation in any of my relationships to be honest and to push them to grow as much as they push me.
So there it is. Five ways that peacemaking bites me in the a** and I bet its biting my fellow peacemakers as well. Let’s wade in together to these murky waters and start splashing! I want to speak the truth, in love and become more of the person God created me to be. My relationships will start increasing in intimacy and closeness and hey, I might just find my voice in the process. Are you with me?
Leave a comment and let me know!