At three and a half, my son, you’re delightfully quirky. You love rockets, gadgets, and fire trucks. You like superheroes, but you’re not old enough to watch them on television. Relatives have you well-stocked with awesome dress-up clothes, but usually you tell me, “I just want to be myself.” Sometimes you’ll don a Batman suit, but absolutely no mask and no cape. Or you’ll run around in the mask and regular clothes. When we went to a costume party, you agreed to be a fireman by wearing a t-shirt that had a fire truck on it and carrying a hat. You’re affectionate and enthusiastic and joyful and passionate. You’re particular. You’re yourself.
My boy, you hate conflict. We can tell you five times to pick up your toys, and you might ignore us each time (usually because you’re so absorbed in your imagination). But if we say calmly, “I am scolding you,” you will dissolve into a puddle of tears. Sometimes when you lose a privilege, you convince yourself you didn’t want the privilege anyway because you hate feeling that loss. Your sister has learned very quickly that she only needs to pout in the right way and you will usually give her what she wants. (We are helping her to unlearn that, by the way.) We call you our little peacemaker.
I think peacemaking is a superpower. That’s not hyperbole. Take any comic book and imagine what could happen if, instead of fighting with fists and weapons and traps, the bad guys were able to be swayed by diplomacy and understanding and compromise. It may not make for an exciting feature film, but wow, that would be powerful.
As you get older and are ready for big-kid themes, you’ll read superhero stories rife with action and conflict. You’ll see that usually there is a point in the beginning when the superhero’s power is raw, untamed and misunderstood. They go to a mountain or an empty warehouse to train, and there they learn how to harness their power, control it, hone it. As a parent, I’m excited to be able to help you develop your talent (and not just because that means casting myself as a wise mountaintop sage or a mysterious cloaked warehouse mentor). I believe your heart for peace is God-given, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out in your life.
Right now, you just love harmony, but your dad and I will help you learn that being a peacemaker doesn’t mean being a doormat, and it doesn’t mean being a people-pleaser. We’ll help you learn that the longing for harmony inside you sometimes means walking with people through really difficult situations that leave you sad and hurting and uncomfortable. Sometimes it means engaging conflict, not avoiding it. Jesus may have been able to calm the storm with a word, but being a human peacemaker often means riding the waves of struggle and strife for a long time and not letting go. It takes courage and strength and boundaries and truth-speaking.
I was thinking the other day about the beatitudes – the special blessings Jesus spoke on a mountainside. He would list certain groups of people and encourage them with a promise. In my head, all the “Blessed are they”s get jumbled and I can’t always remember which promise goes with which beginning statement. I was thinking of you, so I wanted to read about the peacemakers.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Sons of God. I love that. When you long for peace, I believe your heart is chasing after the heart of God. When you work to establish peace, I believe you are doing the work of God. It’s December, a couple weeks before Christmas, and in this season of candlelight and baking and silent nights we are all trying to carve out little moments of peace and warmth. Our souls long for it. Your dad and I believe that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and the type of peace he brings is far deeper than cookies and carols. It’s peace that lasts long after our artificial tree is boxed up. It’s the peace that heals and restores. As you work peace in the world in small ways, you will give people small and beautiful reminders of what God is like – glimpses of ultimate peace.
What a superpower.
Keep just being yourself, my maskless, capeless superhero who yearns for peace.
Keep being yourself, my boy, little son of God.