Holly’s Trip to the Holy Land

11 Apr

 

IMG_1364Over the ten days we spent in the Holy Land we met with countless unsung peace-chasers, each of them incredible, self-sacrificing and inspiring. We heard innumerable stories of pain, injustice, and conflict ending with such hope and desire for reconciliation that it took my breath away. As I sat on the shores of Galilee, praying and desperately trying to unravel a tangle of emotions, thoughts, and desires, I was brought back to the reality of who I am and who Christ is. That I am broken and that brokenness causes me to want to an easy answer. If it’s not there, then I’ll just run away. We saw throughout the many experiences that neither of those choices are an option for peace.Therefore, neither are they for Christ. The easy answer means picking one side and fighting against the other. Walking away means pacifism or indifference and perpetuation of injustice. The truth is that Jesus asks us to do the hardest thing. Christ asks us to sit with him amongst the weeds. Not just the glaring injustices in the world, but amongst our own internal brokenness that begs us to run away from Him, quickly. For a long time I have felt a dissonance between those who fight for social justice and those who fight for spiritual formation (inner justice). Often I’ve seen these two camps abandon each other. This was a reminder that one cannot exist without the other. We heard it over and over from our friends in the Middle East. There were typically two beginnings to stories. Either the angry, abused youth fought against the neighbors who had hurt or killed family members, friends, etc. Or, the agonized youth who disconnected and got away as quickly as possible. Within each of those stories there was an eye-opening realization that nothing was changing. In fact, things were getting worse. So there was a shift.

The paradigm shift for many of our friends was that, for reconciliation to be
possible we must try to understand the other person’s story. Nobody starts out as
an angry, vengeful child… there is always a beginning. It may go back generations
or it may be much closer, but it’s there. In understanding another’s story, you
must be able to ask how you have been the wrong-doer. If we aren’t willing to
do this, to stop seeing ourselves as the victim, then we are constantly in danger
of becoming the oppressor. The way we act is directly correlated to how we view
our own stories. As the victim we will act out of defense, retaliation, and pain.Which in turn oppresses. As one who has seen in her or himself the oppressor we will react with the knowledge that you reap what you sow. If you give violence, violence will be given back. One of our friends told us that, “Violence will only ever breed violence, only love can break that cycle and breed something else.” The same Jewish Israeli friend told us, “There is no difference, our blood runs the same color.”

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For many of the peacemakers we met, and myself, the shift goes one vital step
further. In order to be truly reconciled to my husband, my neighbor, my friend,
my community, my world, I must first be reconciled to myself in Christ. That
means coming face to face with the darkness that demands retribution and that
my pain be seen as worse than that of anyone else. To come face to face with the
brokenness that hinders me from trying. To come face to face with the fears that
lie within me waiting to be lived into. To sit amongst the weeds with Christ and
know that He sees me, wholly, and loves me completely.

That is where true reconciliation begins, is birthed and must continuously be
lived out of. “We love because he first loved us”. Not that he first loved us for
all of the apologizing that we have done. Or all of the good and righteous things
we can present to him. That he first loved us. That’s it. Completely. Loved us in
the moments when we didn’t love back. When we hid our nakedness in guilt and
shame. This was the “answer” one friend gave to show how he could invite those
who seek his (literal) destruction, inside for tea. This is the answer.

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These truths are universal when seeking peace. Whether it be peace with your
spouse, mother, friend, grocer, immigrant neighbor, the gang down the street,
oppressors, victims, or dictators. We must start with reconciliation to God. Where
the light of Christ allows and desires nothing to hide. This in turn must move us
to action. Here we start seeing our enemies, hearing their stories, sharing in their
pain and giving love.

 

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One Response to “Holly’s Trip to the Holy Land”

  1. Richard R. Ramos April 14, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

    Hi Holly! – Great article on reconciliation!

    Your article and trip was of particular interest to me since I have been studying about the Israeli-Arab conflict. You hit the nail on the head by speaking about the need for personal reconciliation with Jesus as an answer. These political issues are rarely a reflection of the common people, yet they affect their lives on a daily basis. The government leaders have their own agenda, yet people are looking for solutions. I completely support your article about the need for individuals to come to a personal peace with Christ as the road to making peace with their enemies – or perceived enemies as the case may be. The work you guys are doing is so important because on a big picture – political, social justice level – they just can’t seem to get past the need for power, “my rights”, and revenge. I was surprised to learn in my studies that the Arab posture is one that will not accept any peace proposal that does not include the destruction of Israel as a State. I am even more surprised to see that our government leaders continue to offer up proposals that they know the Arabs will never accept given this position. Thus, as Christians, our role is to continue to pray for Israel, and do the “boots on the ground” work with individuals as you guys are doing. The rest will take care of itself in a political – prophecy fulfillment scenario as laid out in the books of Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation.

    All our love,
    Richard & Christina

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