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Putting your money where my mouth is

​I’m cutting the beard. It’s all coming off on Sunday, 13 December, and I’m hoping you will support my charity of choice out of sheer gratitude to see it go. I’m raising funds for the CatWalk Trust (spinal cord injuries), to support a couple of friends who have suffered spinal injuries. Visit the CatWalk Trust website to donate directly!

Not only is this a good cause (in so many ways), I’m doing it as my personal response to the Peace Project we are launching at Chapel Hill. At Christ’s birth, angels sang ‘Peace on earth’, and this was either a moment of sheer irony, or the angels really meant it and if we don’t experience peace, we’re the ones choosing to miss out. I think a bit of both, to be honest. Peace really is attainable, but it’s not without some seriously difficult choices.

Take my beard, for example. I made the choice to grow a beard. A beard doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s just God’s grace to men who don’t take the decision to cut it on a daily basis. I’d never grown a beard before, so it was a viable way I could do something for myself at no cost.

Now, I also don’t live in a vacuum - every decision I make affects others. While I have been generally amused at the freedom many have felt to voice an opinion on my beard, the only opinion that has mattered is my wife’s. She is the only one I kiss, and she has really not liked the beard. Let me repeat that...she has really not liked the beard.

Can there be peace in such a house?

Yes, of course. Peace is actually tougher and more robust than we often tend to think. It’s not the absence of conflict. It’s not what you get when you make others do what you want them to do, how you want them to do it. Peace and conflict can go hand-in-hand provided there is honesty, gentleness, and above-all a commitment to staying in and working on the relationship. Peace achieved by abandoning relationship, giving the loved one the cold shoulder, checking out on people because they hurt you (perceived or real), does not grant peace - it’s what we call a “Cold War”.

I am grateful for having a beard because it has exposed Rebecca and I to some great conversations. We have experienced the joy of openly disagreeing about something in such a way that it has made us stronger than when we began.

Is your concept of peace, and your approach to seeking peace in your life, actually robust enough to sustain the challenges of real life, and are you willing to make the choices that will foster it?

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