it does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble
or hard work. it means to be in
the midst of those things and still
be calm in your heart.
For years I thought the definition of peace was to be in a calm environment or without noise. To seek peace, well that meant to withdraw from the noise and get away from everything. Two years ago I learned that peace does not mean the absence of noise in your life, it is having a calmness in your own heart through all of life’s ups and downs.
Almost two years ago I found myself on my knees, tears streaming down my face crying out for God to help. I was on a path that seemed like I couldn’t change directions. Two years before that moment I had decided I was going to do my own thing and live how I thought I wanted to live. I was all-in for living selfishly, I was going to do what I wanted to do. What I discovered was it is entirely possible to live selfishly, but be prepared to be in a constant state of agitation where nothing ever seems quite right and happiness alludes you to always be just around the corner – if you reach that goal at work then you will be happy, if you get that new car then you will be happy, if you go on that next trip then you will be happy. When you put your faith only in yourself, no matter how successful or strong you are, that is a weak foundation.
Finding myself on the floor in a tear soaked shirt unable to control my breathing, was the first time I had really spoken to God in years. I would go through the motions of prayer with my little one praying for other people, but I never uttered a word about myself needing help. I was a big girl with a brain and fully capable of leading my life, right? The truth is decisions made without seeking spiritual wisdom tend to be bad ones. The emotional turmoil I felt inside was uncontrollable. There was nothing else I knew to do, but to cry out for God.
Within 24 hours I felt an all encompassing peace in my heart and everything seemed so clear. Everything that I thought was important I realized was not important at all. Thoughts that I used to have about what was important just seemed downright silly. Things and people that I used to spend time talking about just seemed so mindless. What many would consider tumultuous was one of the most peaceful times in my life because my heart was in the right place. I did not feel shame, I did not feel confusion, I felt empowered with peace and wisdom. Amidst the noise I discovered that peace is found within, not out in the vociferous world.
In this world we are constantly asked if we are happy. Our happiness becomes the foremost goal in our life. But too many times happiness is associated with materialism, things, and accolades – not peace. What we should be asking ourselves is “Do we feel peace?” Think of a time you have felt peace – what a beautiful feeling it was. One of the highlights of my life and one of the most peaceful moments of my life, my husband and I were in a room with a newborn screaming baby surrounded by family. Amongst all the noise everything else drowned out and all I could see was his big smiling face with my daughter wrapped in his arms – in that moment there was peace unknown, a peace that I had lost and longed for again.
For two years I have lived with a peaceful heart and it doesn’t mean everything is roses and rainbows. But it does mean that when someone is unkind to me, I realize that it is not something that I have to react to. Even little things like bad traffic, waiting in line, or flaky waiters – just do not seem worth thinking twice about. Having a peaceful heart I just do not get anxious about things like I used to. I want to save my precious energy for other things, life is hard enough without living in a constant state of agitation over every little thing. And of course peaceful doesn’t mean “easy.” When we call upon Him, He will give us the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:6–7). No matter what hardships we are faced with, we can ask for a peace that comes from God that is not dependent on our own strength or the situation around us.
This Christmas let us remember the peace that God can bring. Restoration of the heart is the deep, abiding peace between us and our Creator that cannot be taken away (John 10:27–28) and the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).