People are always caught off guard a little when I tell them they are wrong about their favorite beach.

Hear me out. There are some great beaches on the East Coast. From the islands off the coast of Georgia to Hilton Head and all the way to Myrtle Beach, and up the coast to the Outer Banks, we have some great coastline! And so many people have so many great memories of spending family vacations and spring break trips and even last-minute, same-day there-and-back trips to quench that insatiable urge to touch the sand.

But for someone to say that any of these beaches are their favorite, would simply be untrue. As you might expect, when I have these conversations with people, they are quick to ask which beach should be their favorite. I always respond with The Gulf Coast of Florida. They often disagree with me! Can you believe it? Usually it’s because they’ve never been. What a silly reason!

You might have guessed that I’m from the Gulf Coast. My childhood consisted of daily Summer trips to the Gulf of Mexico. We lived close enough that we might end up on the sand on the way home from the grocery store by accident! I didn’t appreciate it then like I do now.

You and me and our grandparents and our friends are all informed by our familiarity. We love the things most that have grabbed our hearts and have made the biggest impression on us. And for us those things are our favorite. And how dare anyone try to convince us otherwise?

Firmly held beliefs are important. And in the shifting sand of our current day, I can assume that people who I come in contact with probably think differently than I do about things that are important to me.

Have you found yourself disagreeing with more people? Perhaps you’ve even found that you differ on issues with people you’ve always seemed to agree with. Sometimes these issues are simple and don’t seem to affect the health of your relationships, but what about when the stakes are a little higher?

While it’s easy to get passionate about making a point to those around us, scripture challenges us to make peace instead.

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:14-15)

Those words “every effort” are important here. In the same way that we speak a certain number of words every day, we also have a certain amount of effort that we will invest into our intention for those words. Everyday I get to choose not only what I say but the way that my words affect people. Am I working to influence them to think the same way that I do or am I doing as much as I can to speak peace into the lives of those with whom I come in contact?

I’ve never actually told anyone that they were wrong about their favorite beach. That would be silly. People get to make those decisions for themselves. But people don’t get to make decisions about how I use my words. I am in complete control of that and it’s my responsibility to choose words that bloom peace in other people’s lives.

Are you a peacemaker?