peace makersLast week, I spoke at a writer’s guild conference in Rush Limbaugh’s home town. You don’t hear as much about ol’ Rush as you used to but for those of you who are unfamiliar with him, he was a conservative radio host who was always saying something nasty about someone.

Me? I’m just a nonfiction writer with a book about Black Lives Matter. Yeah, I was nervous.

During my talk a woman raised her hand. She lived in LA when Rodney King was beaten.  She detailed what a wretched human being he was and how many weapons he had in the trunk of his car when the police beat him. I don’t have a clue what was or wasn’t in his trunk, which I admitted, but I also pointed out that even a person who has broken the law has rights and they shouldn’t be used to criminalize an entire race.

But the story doesn’t end there. When this woman approached me later in the day, I braced myself.  I expected to get chewed up one side and down the other. Instead, she thanked me for encouraging her to think about how taking sides isn’t the answer.  Instead, we should be focusing on treating each other with respect.

I have to admit that I wasn’t mentally present for large portions of the next session. I was too busy thanking God for sending this woman into my life. After all, she was the one who had had the nerve to extend the olive branch and start a true “after the disagreement” dialogue. Without her, I’d still be angry and mentally replaying the encounter. But thanks to her courage we reached across the divide. Before it was over, we were thanking God as we hugged each other good-bye.

God sends people into our lives to help us grow. I’m convinced that this woman was one of these people. I only hope that I can show similar grace in the weeks to come and take advantage of any opportunities I might have to extend an olive branch and create an opportunity for true dialogue. How else can we hope to work for God on Earth?

–SueBE

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