What Peace Requires

What Peace Requires

by Tom McGrath

What I was trying to get at in this reflection is the paradox that it’s often when we allow ourselves to be open and vulnerable that we are most likely to experience peace. Here’s a story that might just make my point even better.

The day after I graduated from 8th grade my family moved to a suburb a good distance away from our old Chicago neighborhood. I didn’t know anyone where we moved, and I missed my friends back in the city. So my parents encouraged me to invite my friend Billy to spend a weekend with us.

I was nervous before he arrived. Though it had only been a few weeks since we’d seen each other, everything had changed. We were out of grammar school. We didn’t hang out every day riding bikes like we’d done for years. We would soon be off to different high schools. In my fear of being inadequate for what lay ahead for me, I felt I had to appear cool.

So before Billy arrived I went through my bedroom to eliminate anything I thought was too immature for someone in high school. I hid my comic books and put away games I thought seemed too childish. And then I noticed Timothy John, the stuffed panda who had been my most reliable pal since I was three. I almost didn’t notice him in the corner of the bedroom. He had always just been around. But not now. And so up in the attic he went.

Billy arrived and it took us a while to get reacquainted. Something felt stilted. As we got ready for lights out, Billy opened his suitcase and said, “I hope you won’t laugh, but…” and he pulled out a well-worn stuffed bear. “He helps me sleep,” he said. With that moment of openness, something changed. This was the same buddy I had always known and trusted. He was the bravest kid I knew back then, and went on to be a much-decorated police officer. He remains one of the most genuine and tender men I’ve ever known.

That night we talked long into the night about our fears about high school, about girls we liked in grammar school but never worked up the nerve to talk to, about what we hoped our lives would be like when we grew up, and even a bit about our friendship and how we hoped it would last.

As Billy risked openness, vulnerability, and trust, peace returned to our friendship. I think of his courage when I’m tempted to rely on guardedness and suspicion to make me safe. The recipe for peace is paradoxical—lay down your defenses.

Tom McGrath 

Tom McGrath is the author of Raising Faith Filled Kids, The Meal Box, and is one of the authors of the God’s Gift series.

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Books by Tom McGrath

En torno a la mesa

Preguntas divertidas para compartir la fe en familia

¡Sea tan amable en pasar la sal, la pimienta y En torno a la mesa para iniciar la conversación! Se han combinado preguntas chistosas y creativas que ofrecen siempre consejos prácticos en torno a la fe de los que se podrán beneficiar cada vez que se sienten a la mesa.

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The Meal Box

Fun Questions and Family Tips to Get Mealtime Conversations Cookin'

Pass the salt and pepper–along with The Meal Box. Creatively fun questions combined with helpful family faith tips spice up every mealtime conversation. 54 cards in plastic case.

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids

Ordinary Opportunities to Nurture Spirituality at Home

Offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help parents realize a spiritual path and inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their families.

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Educando hijos en la plenitud de la fe

Raising Faith-Filled Kids (Spanish)

Ofrece una abundante recopilación de consejos e instrumentos fáciles para ayudar a padres y madres a seguir una senda espiritual e inspirar la virtud, la disciplina y la esperanza en sus familias.

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Las Bienaventuranzas para las familias (50-pack)

El Papa Francisco ha llamado a las Bienaventuranzas un “programa para la santidad” y “el camino a la verdadera felicidad”, en otras palabras, la expresión de la esencia del mensaje de Cristo.

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Las obras de misericordia para las familias (50-pack)

En Las obras de misericordia las palabras tomadas del Evangelio de Mateo se presentan en un hermoso diseño. De un lado se muestran las obras de misericordia corporales y del otro las obras de misericordia espirituales.

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The Beatitudes for Families (50-pack)

In The Beatitudes for Families, the Beatitudes are beautifully presented with original artwork. On one side, you will find the words of Christ as found in Matthew 5:3-10. On the other side, you will find an adapted version of the Beatitudes written specifically for families by Tom McGrath, author of Raising Faith-Filled Kids.

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The Works of Mercy for Families (50-pack)

In The Works of Mercy, beautiful artwork surrounds the words taken from the Gospel of Matthew. One side shows the Corporal Works of Mercy and the other shows the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

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