Peace. This singular word has been reverberating in my ears for about seven years and has become my championed reality. I wholeheartedly embrace peace and know it can be attained. With that in mind, I’m starting a series on PEACE for the month of September. The series will serve a few purposes, 1) Clarify my thoughts and experiences 2) Imprint these truths even deeper on my heart and, 3) Hopefully inspire, or at least intrigue, you to begin your own study of peace.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
In My Head
Since that fateful week in Iraq (missed the story? Read here.), my meter for measuring peace is pretty strong. I can easily distinguish between peaceful situations and those that stir-up a sense of striving. You know those days when just about everything goes off without a hitch? You are thinking, planning, doing – all out of ease, with minimal effort or pause. On the other hand, times marked with striving involve lots of “mustering” up – trying to rev my energy engine, check my heart for wholesome motives, and trudge forward, slowly, uphill with maximum effort and involvement.
Times of over-commitment bring on the feelings of striving. When I’m under the gun and have bitten off more than I can chew, feelings of striving take over. Lately, I’ve been in my head quite a bit. This feels like striving to me. Meaning, when I’m not writing, journaling, processing, and externally getting all the thoughts out of my head, I begin to care too much about the opinions of others, and freeze. I won’t put myself out there. I back away from sharing and social media; I stand complacent and disobedient to what I know I should be doing because the perfectionism in me isn’t okay with mediocre.
This looks like me taking tons of photos and offering encouragement to others – in my head. It doesn’t leave the confines of my mind because the picture isn’t perfect, or because I didn’t style the background, or design a complementary graphic. Basically, I feel stuck. I think putting out meh content that is unplanned, off the cuff, and messy is a mismanagement of my gifts. I mean, I love doing this and want it to be perfect. I’m learning that hitting publish on rough content is better than waiting for the perfect alignment of the stars for me to get my stuff together and have edited text, a corresponding graphic, and a perfectly composed photograph that relates perfectly to the subject matter.
Sometimes peace is messy and rough and disheveled. Visually, we associate the word peace with muted colors, or an all white interior, minimal furnishings, and cozy fabrics. Peace is calming; it is relaxing, but a peaceful mind takes on many aberrations. Having a “perfect” blog post with graphics, a non-rough draft version of text, and a planned out schedule feels a lot like striving to me in this season. So, my perception of peace is actually an assurance that God is teaching me and asking me to speak, and that I obey willingly and quickly, despite notions of perfection.
When I’m walking in obedience, or walking by the Spirit, there’s an ease and a freeflow of ideas, affirmations, LIFE, and there’s no time to get caught up in self-deprecating thoughts. Peace reigns when I’m tapped into the Source of all Life. He is the vine, I am the branches.