"It's a nice place to visit - but I wouldn't want to live there." More often than not, we visit places of peace in our lives - and we live somewhere else. Know what I mean?
We live in the place of stress, or the place of worry, or the place of busyness, or the place of regret, or the place of pain.
Yeah, we visit other places, taking day long or week long or maybe even month long (give or take) excursions to Joy or Serenity or Overwhelming Gratitude. (Sometimes, these emotional and spiritual excursions even coincide with physical ones - a worship service, a night out, a week off, a vacation away.) But eventually we always return home.
To a place that is a little less pleasant.
Now, I'm not saying we should live in denial, or pretend to not feel the feelings we are feeling. The full range of emotions is needed to live a fully human life.
But I am increasingly convinced that God calls us to live from a place of peace - a supernatural kind of peace, even, a kind that is beyond human understanding - though we may certainly visit other places from time to time. He desires our baseline reality to to be rooted in the belief that he will not abandon or forsake us; that he will provide for and flourish us; that we have a sure and certain hope and future. He wants us to live from the perspective that we are beloved and enough, and that things are going to be ok (really, they are).
Even in the midst of the storm, I think he calls us to a durable (and even restful) kind of peace. It's hard, I know. I'm not there yet either. But I believe that my life will continue to get better, increasingly more amazing, more than I can ask or imagine, if I endeavor to live more and more from this peaceful place, and only visit those other places (which are necessary, but I wouldn't want to live there).
Here are 3 ways I am seeking to live from a place of peace. Maybe they'll work for you too:
1. Flip the switch. This is the most straightforward way to live from a place of peace - change your thinking! We are more in control of how we think than we often realize, and with the Spirit's help even more so. Are you sinking into a negative disposition and perspective today? Seek to flip the switch and place your trust in God. I often say to myself: "Stop. The light is winning. God has promised to flourish my family. I am his beloved, right now, no matter what. Keep sowing good things and you will reap good things. It's going to be ok."*
2. Bask in gratitude. You know what kills? COMPARISON. And social media fueled comparison is especially deadly. When we spend a significant portion of our day scrolling the best moments, accomplishments, and material acquisitions of every friend and online acquaintance in our (increasingly digital) world, it's very easy to slip into discontentment over what we lack. Resist this! Click the lock button. Put the phone away. Get up from the laptop. And just stop dwelling on what you don't have. Instead, begin to thank God, specifically, for the incredible blessings you've been given - and then focus on loving, serving, and giving back to those in your immediate, real circles. Peace follows gratitude like a loyal pup.
3. Get in the Word - and prayer too. It probably seems simplistic, maybe even outdated. But I think living from a place of peace requires beholding the Prince of Peace. And the best place to do that is in the story of Scripture. When we read, and seek the Spirit's illumination while we read, our perspective changes. It begins to line up more with God's perspective, which is always a peace perspective. Prayer is essential too - it shapes and molds us as people of peace, reaping a harvest of righteousness. It also provides a perfect context to address our guilt with confession and repentance, and to humbly meditate on the challenges we're facing. So that God can lift us up!
What do you think? Do you desire to live more from a place of peace? Do these suggestions resonate? Let me know!
*I'm not minimizing the very real experiences of grief, trauma, or depression. Processing and healing takes time and is different for everyone. I'm speaking more generally here :).