This may be the hardest and most important part of finding peace yet. Deciding to be a peaceful person.
When Tim and I were first married we lived in married student housing at his college. Many families there had kids and one woman watched about twelve kids everyday for these families. In our little apartments this seemed like an awful responsibility to have. 12 kids five days a week, rain or shine, at your house. I thought this woman has to be exhausted and nuts, but when I finally made my way over to meet her, I was startled by an unexpected turn of events. Instead of finding chaos and a very tired, very frustrated woman, I found a peaceful woman sitting at her dining room table facing the front door and sketching. The twelve children were all there, playing inside with each other. I probably would have been nuts, but she was making a conscious decision to be at peace with the situation.
Throughout my life I have seen women like this, who are not as stressed out about the small things and who instead choose to focus on the joy and peace of life. It can be done, but it takes patience and practice.
Next time your in the bathroom take a good look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? Are you a person who is at peace with yourself and your circumstances? Or do you constantly find yourself in want and brought down by your circumstances. If you are unhappy or finding yourself angry and constantly wanting more, you are not being the best version of yourself. You can try to blame your circumstances for your feelings and actions, but I can assure you, many people have gone through worse than what your experiencing and have been at peace.
Have you ever heard the expression, “Your life is what you make it”? This is unbelievable, undeniably, unequivocally; true. I have seen kids dying with cancer happier than kids who “have everything they need”. Why? Because they are choosing to be that way. Everything is a choice. If you get in a car accident tomorrow and total your car, you have a choice to let it ruin your day, your week, or your month. Or you can choose to look your problem square in the face and not let it take your peace away.
I have been working on this aspect of peace for years. I have some areas down pat and others I continuously need to work on. When it doesn’t involve matters of the heart it is very easy for me to remain calm. An elderly man last week was driving down the complete wrong side of the road, right at me. As soon as I saw this I slowed to a stop and started honking. I couldn’t pull over and couldn’t back up so I just hoped he finally understood. As he got closer to my car he started to slow down until he was about five feet from my car, then he promptly started to turn and go around me. Meanwhile he was outraged and signaled for me to I guess get into my own lane? Clearly the man was confused. Looking back I realize I should have probably notified the police, but the point of the story was that it didn’t take my peace. I remained calmer than I should have throughout the whole ordeal and just drove on home. Day not ruined, and funny story for dinner, I call that a success! 🙂
So if you struggle with those things, start small and work on breathing during and eventually removing yourself from the heat of the situation. Try making it into a joke or stopping and trying to think of the bigger picture. What would you say if you saw someone else in this circumstance? If it is someone you don’t know who is doing something mean or stupid, try remembering you don’t know whats going on in their life and give them a small break.
I was trying life without caffeine this week and definitely zoned out in the middle of an intersection. I was waiting for the stream of cars to end so I could turn left. What I didn’t realize, in my caffeine withdrawal coma, was that the light had turned red and I was stupidly sitting in the middle with a ton of angry people waiting for me to go. My bad 🙁 Lesson learned, don’t skip the coffee and drive.
I know this is long, but the point is that I am not a terrible person, and I genuinely felt bad about being that careless. But I bet that around half those people were either audibly or mentally cursing at me. People make mistakes, we are all human. Try giving us other humans a break 😉 Maybe others will catch on to the craze! BTW (by the way), this is not for their sake, its for yours! Those pockets of anger cause your stress levels to skyrocket and a whole bunch of other bad stuff. That’s why they say being angry is bad for your health
Matters of the heart, on the other hand, hit harder and last longer. I still struggle with feelings from broken friendships and my past. This is something I continuously have to work on to ensure it doesn’t steal my peace. Since I spend so much time alone these are the peace stealers that effect me the most. They creep up on me, the memories hit me and suddenly I’m in an intense battle for a positive and peace filled life.
I first try to think of other things, this is my first and sometimes most effective line of defense. If you have a negative situation from the past that is resolved, or unresolvable, then you need to try to move past it. If you could have resolved it, what is stopping you from closure now? If the situation is currently happening and your dwelling on the negative, try thinking of a few positives that have come from the situation. Try to think of other things, dwelling can amplify the situation and just serve to stir your emotions.
My second line of defense is flat out staring it down. What really happened, how is it making you feel now, and what can you do about it? What choices can you make today to either ease your discontent or help you to forget.
Time is the ultimate healer. They say everything lessens with time. Go to sleep, get through the week, or the month. Give it time, these problems have a way of getting smaller over time. But only if they are in the past! If you have a problem now, deal with it in the best way you can. Don’t be petty or mean. You have to live with yourself day in and day out for the rest of your life and while you can’t control what they do, you can control what you do. I haven’t always tried to be the best person and I regret not making better choices, but I can honestly say that the last friendship I lost I tried my hardest to do the right thing and now it doesn’t hurt as badly. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it still hurts, but I can look at it as a tragedy and not with anger.
Where are you causing discord in your life either in your thoughts, relationships, or anywhere else. What can you do to change your circumstances or outlook? You can choose peace today, no matter what you’ve got going on!
My mom taught me another trick that really helps. You can do this whenever your struggling with thoughts that are taking your peace. Envision yourself taking them captive and literally walking them to and laying them at the foot of the cross. If you believe in Christ and God, this will bring you peace. Because God will take care of it, He will comfort you and take away your hurt if you let Him.