“The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (shalom) [tranquility of heart and life continually].” Numbers 6:26
Shalom. This is an amazing word that many of us miss. Strong’s Concordance (7965) defines shalom as: completeness, wholeness, health, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, fullness, rest, harmony and the absence of discord. I don’t know about you, but I want all that this word has to offer! And yet, I offer a caution: there is a cost for shalom.
Shalom was the Garden of Eden, everything perfect, complete and whole. There was nakedness without shame or fear. Shalom. At the entrance of evil and sin, shalom was broken for all of us and we ceased to live lives described as complete, whole, healthy, etc. We entered in to a system where evil forces bombard our lives from the onset and spend all their time keeping us from ever establishing shalom again. What evil couldn’t foretell was Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate Shalom! Jesus provides shalom redeemed in our lives and yet, I offer another word of caution: shalom redeemed is a process, not a singular event. The implication here is that all processes inherently have pain and joy combined.
Last week I was blessed to experience shalom redeemed in my story and it came at a price and it came as a process. I am currently in school to obtain a certificate in counseling that is specifically meant to help people work through trauma. In the process of learning, we are invited to face our own stories of trauma and work through them with the grace of the Cross. It’s beautifully painful work and each time I’m in class, I come out a different person than I went in: shalom redeemed.
I had a picture of my relationship with my mom that was distorted at best. I believed her to be my best friend and that, in and of itself, is a distortion. Through the work in my class, and the help of an amazing small group, I had to face what I knew deep down: my mom never truly acted like my friend nor my mom. My mom was a tortured person who had experienced her own deep harm at the hand of her mother and she had no way to respond but by unleashing deep harm on me as well. This was a family cycle going back at least 3 generations that I’m aware of and I suspect more. It’s called a curse. I spent the better part of my 46 years alive covering and protecting the violence that she invited in to our lives and the alienation that came as well.
And then God walked in and shalom was redeemed. After four painful days of processing and reframing my view of my mother, I was angry. Angry that I had experienced her harm and yet called her friend. Angry that her harm and need to keep me to herself kept me from other people in my family. Angry that her harm made it easy to walk away from marriages because I had her to save me. And in my anger, I had to find way to bless her. Bless that she was damaged. Bless that although unhealthy, she did love me in her limited capacity. Bless that God had shown extreme mercy and grace by saving her and then calling her to heaven. Bless that I was saying, “no” to the vows, agreements and curses that existed in my family up to that point. Bless the pain and lay her to rest in the deepest way.
Shalom has a cost and the cost is your comfort. Walking through transformation and facing the evil in our lives is ridiculously painful and uncomfortable. And yet, the redemption of shalom is the invitation God has for all of us when the blessing says, “…may He give you peace (shalom)..” Are you willing to accept the invitation? Are you willing to look at your life and say yes to the invitation that God is extending of shalom? Are you willing to lose your life to find it? (Matthew 16:25) Are you willing to enter in to the process of shalom and allow God to truly unchain you from your vows and agreements that you’ve made with evil that you aren’t even aware of? Are you willing to bless the pain and evil? Don’t desire true shalom without knowing the cost because you can’t force it, you must be led to it by God with an open heart. Open to both pain and joy and filled with radical and ridiculous hope.
My prayer for us all is that we accept the invitation to a life of shalom. If you would like a prayer partner, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.