During each Sunday morning worship service in our Presbyterian church we participate in something called, “Passing the peace”. It might appear to be simply a time for greetings and fellowship but it really is something more. As we share the traditional greeting, “The peace of Christ be with you” and hear the response, “and also with you”, we are actually sharing a blessing with one another. We are reminding each other that Christ is the source of peace in our lives, while taking a moment to connect with our fellow-believers. I’m a bit of an introvert but somehow, this is never uncomfortable for me. Part of it is that I’ve known these people for ages and they are truly my church family in every sense of the phrase. But more than that, it truly feels peaceful and loving.
I’ve been thinking about peace a lot lately. What does the word even mean? How do I obtain peace in my own life and spread it to others? What/who is the source of peace? Jesus said:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Wow. Three little sentences but they say so much about how we should live our lives. Most Christians are familiar with this passage but I wonder how many really take it to heart. I’m saddened by the number of Christians I’m seeing these days who are sorely lacking in the peace and security Jesus promises us. They are constantly upset, stirred up, angry and fearful about current events, politics, differing viewpoints and even things that haven’t happened yet. They claim to believe God is in control but their actions bely that.
I have unfortunately allowed this negative energy emanating from so many to steal some of the peace I should have in my life but I intend to fix that. In fact, I’ve been working on it already. One of the first things I did was to eliminate watching any television *news* that involves screaming and arguing. Instead, I read current news from several news sources online each morning on my Yahoo home page. In the car I listen to each of the major news outlets for a few minutes each or until someone starts yelling. I also make a point of reading and listening to the BBC and NPR, both of which give a broader and sometimes slightly different view of current events. The important thing, however, is that I avoid the sources which market fear and hate for profit. I’ve also deleted several blogs from my Google Reader. If the author is consistently negative, hateful, judgmental, whiny or simply irritating, I decided there was no good reason for me to continue to read their blog posts.
I’ve also begun to limit my time with negative people. That’s hard to do when you really care about those individuals but I suspect they aren’t totally comfortable being with someone who doesn’t buy into their world view or play along with their “woe is me” attitude anyway. This doesn’t mean I’ve written these people off or that I won’t still occasionally see them and be a part of their lives. It simply means being more careful about the time I spend with them, choosing events that are less likely to involve negativity and avoiding topics that allow negative thoughts, comments and emotions to surface. Fortunately I am blessed with lots of wonderful, happy, upbeat friends to spend time with. My husband and children (including my wonderful son-in-law) are a total blast to be with and we have such fun together. I’m so lucky to have them in my life.
Additionally, I bring peace into my life by counting my blessings, focusing on the beauty of nature, enjoying simple pleasures and actively searching for the positive side of everything. Instead of worrying and fretting about the current recession, I think grateful thoughts about how all our needs are met and how God promises to take care of us. An attitude of gratitude will go a long way toward a goal of having a peaceful nature.
I recently read a rather intriguing blog post titled, A Beautiful Method to Find Peace of Mind. I’ve been reading this Zen Habits blog for a couple of years and often find it thought-provoking. I encourage you to read the whole post but here is a brief excerpt:
Let me let you in on a little secret to finding peace of mind: see the glass as already broken. See, the cause of our stress, anger and irritation is that things don’t go the way we like, the way we expect them to. Think of how many times this has been true for you. And so the solution is simple: expect things to go wrong, expect things to be different than we hoped or planned, expect the unexpected to happen. And accept it.
Hmm…that bears thinking about, doesn’t it? Go read the whole blog post; it isn’t long. Yes, I’ll wait. So, what do you think? Unique way to look at things, isn’t it? I’m still working on the concept to make it second nature but I can already see how it reduces stress.
Finally, when you remove things from your life, even negative things, there is a void. Unless you purposely fill that void with something else, it will inevitably start sucking in the negative stuff all over again. That is part two of my “peace plan”. David and I made the conscious decision several years ago that we would make fun an important part of our lives. We travel, listen to music, go out to dinner, have parties with friends, watch entertaining movies, and enjoy lots of fun time with our grown kids and son-in-law. We sing and dance and laugh…a lot. We even dress up as pirates.
One of my favorite hymns is “Lord of the Dance”, the chorus of which has the following lyrics:
Dance, then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.
I honestly believe that God wants His people to live joyous, peace-filled lives, secure in the knowledge that the “Lord of the Dance” holds us safely in the palm of His hand. When we accept and truly internalize this truth, the love and light of Christ within us will be evident to those with whom we come in contact. And like moths to a flame, people are drawn to the light.
“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair.” ~Susan Polis Shutz