Yet Another Year of Choices
By Barbara Dahlgren
I must admit that sometimes peace eludes me. I’m not talking about the “peace which passes understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) When I think of the “peace which passes understanding,” I think of God calming the child in the midst of the raging storm. I think of severe trials exercising faith muscles to the point where “peace” endorphins kick in. I think of crises altering an outlook, forcing one to re-evaluate and be thankful for the most important things in life. When these events happen, I realize I have no control over the outcome; so although they are gut wrenching, it’s a little easier to lift them up to God.
I’m talking about “everyday” peace which some might call peace of mind or inner peace. As that famous philosopher Anonymous once said, “It isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out. It’s the grain of sand in your shoe.” Here are some of my grains of sand: nagging thoughts that get the better of me, being anxious when I have nothing really to feel anxious about, thinking the worst of others instead of the best, making mountains out of molehills, losing my perspective, getting upset because I’m inconvenienced, and wanting to punch inconsiderate, thoughtless, or irritating people.
Inner peace is described as tranquility of order. If this is true, there can be no peace where there is no order. Unfortunately, most of our lives lack order. Life tends to be messy, inconvenient, and stressful. Some cope or look for peace by drinking, taking drugs, making money, buying things, or eating. These forms of self-medication may give temporary relief, but being numb or catatonic is not quite the same as achieving peace.
There are many areas of my life that I have no control over. However, by trying to integrate some of the following practices into my life, even where I lack control I can have some inner peace.
- Mind my own business.
- Forgive others and myself.
- Forget the past. Move on!
- Don’t overextend. Learn to say, “No!”
- Be happy for others, not jealous.
- Accept what cannot be changed.
- Learn to be patient and/or tolerant.
- Count blessings. Be thankful.
- Choose friends wisely. Stay away from negative people.
- Don’t take everything personally.
- Simplify life. Get rid of clutter.
- Learn to laugh.
- Slow down. Find quiet time.
- Do something nice for someone else.
- Think before speaking.
Yet, it’s easier said than done. Chances are that if I’m stressed because I haven’t done the above, I have no one to blame but myself. Many times I’m angry with others when I’m the one who could have avoided the problem.
Consider this… Ultimately, all peace comes from God – the peace which passes understanding and inner peace. Without a relationship with God, we will never have true peace. God gives His peace to those who trust Him (John 14:27) and focus on Him (Isaiah 26:3), so they have no need to be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6). Until we connect with God, we search and search, looking for “peace, peace, when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).”
I guess I need to pray more and fret less – and stay miles away from inconsiderate, thoughtless, or irritating people.
One final thought…
He who angers you controls you. Don’t let others steal your inner peace.