Being a peacemaker is a lot of work. I’ve been trying to keep the peace in one way or another, with one person or another, for years. And in today’s current climate, it’s an even greater challenge. Sometimes I irritate myself by caring so much about what others think, to the point that I worry I’m sacrificing my authenticity. That I’m not being true to myself.
Being a peacemaker can feel equal parts honorable and stifling. I hate making decisions that affect others. I’m more than happy to go with the flow and do what everyone else wants to do. I can spend hours picking apart the details of conversations after the fact to make sure I haven’t said anything offensive. And you’d better believe I’m not going to send my food back at a restaurant… but if I absolutely have to, I’ll make my husband do it while I hide out in the bathroom for a few.
How Do You Like Your Eggs?
Some people are entertained by getting a rise out of others, but rocking that boat stresses me out. Do you remember the late-90s romcom Runaway Bride? Julia Roberts’ character doesn’t decide how she likes her eggs until the end of the movie, because–in tempo with keeping the peace in her relationships–she has always ordered her eggs however her boyfriend of the moment orders his.
I feel for her. As a peacemaker, I can understand just about any perspective and appreciate almost any opinion. And that makes it extremely difficult to form my own.
I’d like to say that by now, with a decent amount of life experience under my belt, I’ve finally recognized that conflict is unavoidable. The logical part of my brain gets it. It’s the side that can emotionally detach. It tells me that I can’t win everyone over, even though I might try. That I’m bound to make someone unhappy along the way and that’s ok.
Inner and Outer Peace: Hanging in the Balance
But peacekeeping flows through my veins. It has settled itself deep in my bones. Has been woven into the fabric of who I am by the One who made me.
It is the reason I struggle to tune out my kids while they push each other’s proverbial buttons in the back seat of the car. I try to keep quiet, to let them sort it out on their own, but eventually I’m shouting above the bickering, “JUST MAKE PEACE ALREADY!”
It drives my inability to fall asleep following any sort of disagreement yet to be resolved with my husband. I’ll stay up until 2 am to hash it out when he’s long been ready to put the issue, and himself, to sleep hours earlier.
Here’s the thing, though: I don’t want to use peacekeeping as a crutch. I don’t want it to be an excuse to slough off the responsibility of making up my own mind. I think the mission of a peacemaker can be a noble and necessary one, but it is a disciplined undertaking to make peace outwardly while simultaneously achieving peace from within.
Showing Up as a Peacemaker
My friend Liz is the ultimate peacemaker. We’ve bonded over this shared mentality. She told me that she finds conflict to be “gut-wrenching.” In the midst of it, she feels nervous, even sweaty. Unless she has research to back herself up, or a strong opinion about a topic, she won’t assert herself. And on top of that, she finds herself feeling easily lost during an argument.
Yet she acknowledges that peacemakers can be especially helpful in conflict when they are willing to put forth the effort. When they choose to show up.
So, how do we do this? Choose to show up? How, as peacemakers, can we be helpful in times of conflict while also preserving our own intentions and opinions? I’ve been struggling to show up, especially lately. Opinions are heavy and powerful and passionate. And that’s tough for a peacemaker to process when we’re just out to keep everyone happy.
Using The Enneagram as a Guide to Keeping the Peace
Liz was also the first to open my eyes to the Enneagram, a way of identifying our personality type in order to help us better understand who we are. The scope of the Enneagram is so vast that I’ve barely unearthed the tip of it. But I’ve already found some sage advice when it comes to living as a peacemaker, or a 9 on the Enneagram scale.
When it comes to “showing up,” here are three valuable things a peacemaker can do from the book The Road Back to You (linked here, it is an awesome jumping-off point into the world of the Enneagram):
- Don’t “numb out” or run away from tension. Allow yourself to feel all the things, whether they resonate and stir up the passion inside of you or make you want to crawl under a rock and hide.
“Nines are out of touch with the good side of anger, the part that inspires, drives change, moves things along, and gives them courage to stand up for themselves.”
- Embrace the effort you put into caring for others, and do so by being truly present. Be “quick to love, slow to judge.”
- Remember the importance of your voice. It is unique and others deserve to hear it, and your words hold immense value.
Taking Care of Each Other
The presence of the peacemakers feels especially grounding right now. Despite our differences, when it comes down to the bones of any issue, we’re all human. We were made to take care of each other. It’s paramount to our existence.
So, all you peacemakers, go ahead and figure out how YOU like your eggs. And remember, you don’t have to eat them the same way every day. But in the spirit of keeping the peace, can we all just agree that no egg dish is complete without a good side of bacon?