It was a Wednesday evening when she came to the house. She tiptoed up the stairs in search of Hannah, holding news within her that would change everything in a single moment.
We think we live prepared for this stuff but the reality is, you can never truly be prepared for evil. This world hardens us to it but not enough to eliminate the shock and horror of it. We weren't created to live this way.
That evening, some time passed and things came into the open that we'd not known before. We were shaken, angry (at the evil), and horribly confused. What we were supposed to do with this revelation? What could we do? Tears were shed and we prayed in earnest. Sleep didn't come easy.
I've learned over the past three years that I have control over next to nothing. I now know the only thing I can really control is my response to having no control. And I'm not proud of the way I walk most of those responses out. Feeling helpless to protect the ones I love brings ugliness within me bubbling to the surface. I want to do better so God can work without me as a liability.
If someone were to ask me to choose one word that nobody would ever use to describe me, past or present, I wouldn't have to hesitate. The word would be peaceful.
I've decided this is what I want to work toward. It's a palatable, obtainable goal. I hear myself whisper, Lord, make me like Jesus and then I almost shudder at how much making that will still involve. But Lord, make me peaceful is much the same request, only my brain can process it with a little more ease.
So if I were to jump on the trend of choosing a word for the year, peaceful would be that word. And I'm going to share some of the things God has shown me which are inhibiting this being my reality.
We obviously all know the (now) usual things that steal our peace like scrolling on our phones, comparing our own lives to those of others, wishing for what we don't have, taking in garbage through the bombardment of available media, etc. But God is pointing me to some less noticeable things that I allow to sneak in with darkness that snuffs out the light.
Getting frustrated about unexpected things that pop up. These can be big or small, casual or serious. I get all edgy when something pushes into my to-do list and throws me off kilter. Proverbs 16:9 offers the now famous words, A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. Having a plan to accomplish what needs doing, and a method for executing that plan efficiently, is a wonderful habit as long as we hold that plan loosely, committing it into the hand of God.
Determining what things add to, or subtract from, my ability to remain peaceful. This is a hard one for me. As someone who likes to write, I also like details. So when I hear of something bad that happens somewhere in the world, I want to know the nitty gritty. When my second cousin's uncle's brother's son's best friend has a GoFundMe started on his behalf, I want to know the backstory. When there's an earthquake across the globe, I want to know how many people lost their lives and then I'll read stories from survivors. And to be honest, not all of these things are terrible. The problem is, all of these things are too much. The internet has us living the most connectedly disconnected lives so that we end up knowing things that shouldn't even be on our radar. It's far too much for a single brain to process so much evil and yet I know I'm not the only person to struggle with information overload and it definitely destroys my peace.
Letting go of making everyone happy. It's okay if people don't like me or something I do. I don't need to try to fix that, unless God directs me to. In fact, often times I poke my nose where it doesn't belong, worrying about someone's opinion of who I am, to the point that I end up being a lesser version of myself than if I had just minded my own business to begin with. I need to learn to keep my eyes, ears, AND nose where they need to be ... on God.
Asking God to work and then getting upset about the ways He goes about it. Obviously I have a whole lot of children and I could spend hours a day praying for each one. The world is tugging at them so hard, from the youngest to the oldest, and all I want to do is wrap a warm blanket around them and put them somewhere safe. I daily pray some version of the following for each one: Lord, do whatever it takes to get their attention and save their souls. WHATEVER IT TAKES, even if the process "hurts" them or me. I pray that daily and then daily I forget I prayed it. There's no other explanation for why I get so upset and frazzled when things seem to be going badly for one or more of them. When they hurt, I hurt and I honestly think sometimes I'm just flat selfish because I don't like hurting for them. I want unicorns and roses and fluffy clouds for every one of them to land on. But the reality is, in this fallen world God shows His power so incredibly because He takes the bad stuff and redeems it for good. No pain is wasted. No experience is for naught. If we pray bold prayers we need to be prepared to accept bold answers.
Learning the art of praise. This is at the very core of living a peaceful life. Because that night when the news that rocked us was delivered, if I had simply paused to praise God for the things He knows that I don't ... for the ways He sees that I can't ... I would have saved myself so much stress and heartache. I don't expect that I'm ever not going to be affected by my people hurting, but learning to praise God in the midst of it would be so much more effective than just stewing in the hurt. Psalm 22:3 says, But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Is there anything more beautiful (and POWERFUL) than the thought that God actually lives in our praises?? We're leaving so much untapped because we tend to panic rather than praise.
Nothing about the revelation we received this week has changed. Nothing can change about most of it. But the details moving forward and how it'll all unfold, are chapters we haven't been shown and the sooner we learn that what God hasn't yet revealed to us isn't yet our business, the more peaceful we'll all be.