Each week I drop some nuggets of wisdom challenging you to love well.  This week, I’ve invited my friend Madelyn Johnson, a student who is currently traveling the country, promoting peace and showing love in many places.  I met Madelyn a few years back, while speaking at her school.  How she showed love to her peers and built relationships immediately caught my attention.  It’s been a pleasure to see her grow and continue this nationwide.

A Letter from Maddie…

For the past three months I’ve been part of an organization called “Ywam”.  It stands for “Youth With a Mission”. It was a class time of learning about the character of God, and how to have a deeper relationship with Him. We’ve been discipled so we can go out and now disciple others as well, applying all the things we’ve learned to the cities that we are traveling to now.

I’ve been on the road for the past three weeks, and have seven more ahead of me, traveling and spreading peace to the best of my ability as I go!  Mission work allows me to have a lifestyle of serving others in an incredible unconditional way that I’ve never experienced before. Seeing the diversity in our people and the way that we can bring unity and peace to a community that needs it is the most fulfilling thing in this world. Often I find that the easiest way to connect different people, race, age, gender, is to create a safe space of vulnerability, a place where no one is judged. Trust creates peace. Fear destroys it. Whether I’m in a worship service in a small town of Missouri, or I’m on the streets of downtown Chicago, I’m constantly, openly, pouring out God’s agape love.

I’ve worked a lot with schools and the education system, and I’ve been a witness to real chaos. There is a lot of misunderstanding between teacher and student, between student and student. The words we use hold so much power, and often we don’t see that truth or consider what we’re saying or how we’re saying it. I don’t believe you have to tear someone down to build them up.  Positive redirection can be used for a child in the education system.  I’ve see a lot of negative and reactive words thrown at students in an environment that should be peaceful and positively reinforced. I’ve done my best to get into these busy schedules and to plant seeds of value there, reminding as many people as I can that each person, their co worker, their student, holds infinite value. None better or worse than the other. If we can understand what that means, we can live our lives in a way that promotes peace on a daily basis. Using encouraging uplifting words and then following them up with intentional actions of love.

I’ve worked with homeless men, women, and children, I’ve see the pain in their hearts, I’ve seen the poverty in one home when three houses over, their is privilege. I’ve seen the desperation for hope, for something to love, for something to live for, for peace, in both places. The anger, darkness, and fear can be replaced with peace, love, and light. It starts with you, with me, with us. It takes one person to change someone else’s whole world! It’s simple and lovely. It’s unselfish. Laying down your life and acknowledging there’s more than just you. There’s a whole world full of people you can spread peace to and it starts with the little things.  It starts with you.

Madelyn Johnson is a Student Peace Ambassador and an honorary member of the Campus Peace-Building Initiative.  She was presented an award for Golden Rule Leadership and promoting peace and civility within her school and community.