Wednesday, May 31, 2017

When Peacekeeping is a Shut Mouth

Last year, I wrote a guest post for a blog called The Ruth Experience.  I wrote about what it means to be a woman when you are single, childless, and sans high heels.  You can read the post here:

The gals who author the site have written a book called Grace for the Misfits and will give one copy away to the first person who e-mails me at  You can read more about their 31 day devotional on Amazon.

I hope you find this post a reflective experience.


I adamantly disagreed with the conversation I unwittingly had become entrenched in. Struggling to know what to do, I glanced around the room, looking for a way out before my face gave away my internal emotions.

Part of me wanted to speak up, but I also knew anger was welling inside of me, and I was sure that what would come out of my mouth would not be very kind. Instead, I got up from the table and left the room.

I went outside to watch my kids play. Still feeling upset about what was being discussed, I wondered if I’d done the right thing by just leaving the conversation.

Later on that evening I told my husband what had happened. As I explained my non-response, I told him, “You know, I’ve certainly regretted things I’ve said in anger, but I have never regretted keeping my mouth shut. Not once.”

As several days have now passed, I have not been able to stop thinking about how good it feels to know that I kept my mouth shut when I wanted to say something (potentially) hurtful. How, sometimes, choosing to keep my relationships intact is more important than sharing my opinions or even being right.

This doesn’t mean there haven’t been times I’ve needed to go back and have discussions with people about conversations I’ve quietly left. I’m certainly not an advocate for avoiding issues that need to be brought up or hashed out, but I’m learning that speaking in anger often accomplishes little more than hurt feelings and resentment. At least, for me it does. Usually I just end up saying things I later regret and then have to go back and apologize anyway.

Being a peacemaker often means watching my tongue, caring for another person's heart and well-being more than my ability to be free to say whatever I want.

My mouth is a powerful tool, and I choose if I’ll use it for good or bad.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

I’m learning that Jesus's words are compelling and not to be taken lightly. He said that peacemakers would be called children of God, and that is what I want to be called. More than anything else. More than I want to be able to share my opinions. More than lashing out in anger. More than even getting my own way.

This way of Jesus may garner friction when it's at odds with what my flesh desires, but it’s the quiet calm my spirit knows and rests in that draws me more to Christ and his way. It's that calm that reminds me: This is right--this watching my words, speaking peacefully and not harshly.

Sometimes the easiest way to keep the peace is just to keep my mouth shut.

Kendra Roehl is described by her father as a “defender of the weak,” and is always looking for those who fall through the gaps and are in need of help. Her natural inclination towards the hurting has segued into first a career as a clinical social worker, then a foster and adoptive mom, and now a writer and speaker. She and her cohorts believe wholeheartedly that loving God and others should shape all aspects of their lives and are certain that small acts of kindness can truly change the world. Kendra writes and speaks regularly in her community and home church, as well as volunteers as an advisor for Bridging the Gap, a Christian women’s organization in Minnesota that offers godly support to women through resources, conferences, and leadership development. You can find Kendra writing honestly about topics such as marriage, motherhood, foster care and adoption, and social justice at The Ruth Experience.

Her new book, Grace for the Misfits: 31 Days Pursuing the Unconventional Favor of God, is available now! This book will offer encouragement and hope for anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t quite fit in, walked through hard times, or wasn’t sure God could use them--all while discovering the upside-down ways of Jesus, his kingdom, and what (and who) he says matters.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Professor Pain

Worst. Semester. Ever. 

I signed up for a course called Christian Living, and was hoping to get a good professor.  I’d heard great things about Professor Joy, “One of the most pleasant people to be around,” they said.  Professor Grace also had a good rep, “He gives his students all kinds of things that they don’t even deserve.  Unbelievable.” 

I had high hopes as I sat in the desk on the first day of class, taping my fingers, waiting for my mysterious professor to arrive.  In she walked, uncomfortably late, wearing black shiny heels that would have made me scream for a podiatrist.  She wore a spiky choke collar necklace to accent her scarlet dress.

“My name is Professor Pain,” she explained, “I’ll be teaching your course this semester.”

“Oh no.”  Groans erupted from around the room.  “You’ve got to be kidding me.”  Students shifted in their seats nervously and some of them got up and walked out the door. 

Her syllabus seemed reasonable enough.  There were a few books to read including The Problem of Pain, along with other texts.  Mainly though, we were just supposed to keep a journal as we lived our lives, paying attention to where we felt pain and where we felt the presence of God. 

Time passed quickly as time does and suddenly I found myself alone in her office during finals week giving my oral exam.  We sat across from each other on hard wooden chairs, her eyes locked onto mine.

“So,” she said, leaning into me, “What did you learn?”

I leaned back in my chair, wanting to choose my words carefully before I spoke.  I reflected on all the times I had fallen: backwards, forwards, in public, at home, needing ice, and x-rays, and compassion. I had lifted my body up each time after I had stumbled while my soul remained defeated on the ground. 

I thought about the morning I woke up to discover I could hardly take another step because it felt like something was stabbing me in the heel.  

I thought about the pain of fatigue, and loneliness, and disappointment, while I sat on my couch, pondering singleness. 

I thought about how much I wanted to get out of pain whenever I was in it.  I leaned forward, stared Professor Pain in the face and said,

“You are relentless.”

Pain cocked her head back in a laugh. “Tell me more,” she said with a smile. 

“No, seriously,” I said, suddenly at ease, “You’re worse than Facebook notifications and texting combined.”

“What can I say?” she replied, throwing up her hands.  “I want more than office hours and email exchanges…. I prefer to walk with my students while they learn.”

She paused just then, leaning even deeper into me with a penetrating gaze, “I didn’t ask if you liked me as an instructor, most students don’t. I want to know what you learned in Christian Living.  What did you learn about God?”

The words of C.S. Lewis fell from my lips: "We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

The room fell silent.

“I really want to be held by God.”  As I began to speak, tears filled my eyes and my voice began to quake.  “I want to be close to Him, and of course, I want to be away from pain.  It hurts.”

Professor Pain nodded her head knowingly, urging me forward.

“Those mornings when I was in pain, that’s when I really cried out to God, that’s when I found it in my heart to confess, I really need you.  I felt close to God.  I felt His comfort.  It was in the most painful moments where I realized that when I walk with pain, God is walking with me too--

--every step.”