There is no escaping it, peace is hard to tie down. It’s elusive and subjective and difficult to catch. Just when I think I’m grasping hold of it, it it silently slips through my grip and runs all the way down the street.
By now you know, I write where I am. The things I am struggling with, the hopes and fears and failures and joys that rise up in me pour out, here.
As we await this season of hope, this season of love, joy and peace – Christmas – I can’t help but wonder how many of us feel utterly without any of those things.
How many of us feel whole in part and yet know something is missing?
It’s a season we’re thrust into believing anything is possible, especially as it relates to family. Broken relationships, bruised and weary and worn, we wonder: Maybe this year will bring peace. Maybe this is the year, we’ll be whole.
It’s a marvelous idea, a generous hope whose expectation sometimes sets us up for a fall. If I’m honest, sometimes it makes me not want to hope at all. The truth is I’d rather be prepared for the hurt, than expect the hope and have it fail.
But as I enter into my broken family, the one that is not and never will be perfect, I am faced with a choice. I’m faced with the opportunity to wage peace or add to the chaos.
In many ways I want to turn and run. I want to defend my home, my life and the family we have created. I want to protect that which is ours: our peace.
But partial peace will never be true peace. No matter how far we run or how high we build our walls, partial peace and hidden strife still feels broken.
As I enter into Christmas, chaos and family and hope, faith and love, I am realizing peace isn’t in a place. Peace isn’t in a position I take or a plan that I hold. Peace is in a person.
Peace is in knowing that I am not alone when I face my fears. That when I turn from perfectionism and accept what is mine, He will find me. When I surrender my plans and invite His will, grace will come. And in the moments I leave my comfort zone and intentionally wage peace, He will rescue me.
If you struggle to find peace – in the midst of this season of hope, joy, love and peace – take heart. You’re in very good company.
Here are a few ways I’m searching for peace in the middle of the reality of life:
1. Stop perfecting
I’m a perfectionist at heart. It’s a tendency I will always have and will always fight. It tells me I have to perform; I have to do better and strive harder and be more than what I already am. It’s a liar. It keeps us from enjoying who we are in this very moment, and it robs us of living in the present. I have ideas of what life should look like and it will never happen. Letting go of perfectionism is an intentional choice, day after day, to live in the reality of my life. The messy and the broken and the threadbare and FULL.
2. Pour out grace
Just as much as we need to free ourselves from perfection, we need to give others permission to do the same. We will never be satisfied or fulfilled by another person. No one can meet all our needs and if they did, we wouldn’t appreciate it anyway. We were made to worship more than a person. Some of us need to let someone off the hook. We need to give grace to someone who has hurt us, failed us, lied to us, or about us. You don’t need to let them back in, you don’t need to give them access to hurt you again, but you can set them and yourself free. Grace is undeserved mercy. We all know the kind; we’ve been the beneficiary of it ourselves. Give it away.
3. Clear the way
We have a race to run in this life. Each of us born with a calling and a purpose for such a time as this, we stumble. We stumble over things we’ve placed in our own way. We stumble over things behind us. Clear the way. Make level paths for your feet so you can fix your eyes on Jesus, and run.
4. Abide in Him
Those who hope in God believe He is everywhere. I find when I lose my sense of reason I go looking for His and I find Him in the details. In the sunrise and sunset and the perfectly heart shaped rock found in the driveway. He’s in every whispered prayer and breath and tear that falls. When you seek Him, you will find Him. And He will rescue you.
5. Wage peace
Peace isn’t found by fleeing the chaos. Peace is found by intentionally entering in and paying attention to Christ. Surrendering to God’s will. It means we choose to abide in Him in the midst of our trial to find His purpose, not to avoid our suffering.
There are some things I will never understand. There are some dynamics that will never make sense. We can fight for our right, or we can surrender to God’s purpose. We will never hold on to peace. Peace isn’t found in a place or a position or a plan that we make to protect ourselves well. It’s found in the midst of the chaos. In the middle of the trial and suffering and uncertainty and fear, we find peace in a person. We find peace in Christ.