Let me just preface this blog post with the caveat that this is more of a “stream of thought” post. So, you know, definitely more messy than usual.
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…”
It is the season of reflection and promise and hope. But mingled in with all if that? A sense, for me at least, that the holidays are no longer mine.
Of course part of this feeling is because I am a parent and an adult. I have seen the metaphorical backlot of Disneyland and the wonder and amazement has been replaced by the reality of seeing a headless Goofy smoking a cig and hitting on Ariel.
Such is life.
The other part is that I am more and more aware of the audacity of what this season represents. Peace? In this life? Right.
Watching world events unfold only reinforces this feeling of futility. The war, the hunger and the brutality facing others makes my heart scoff at the notion of peace.
In my own life, I sense that there will never be a season of “smooth sailing” that won’t just be “relatively smooth” when compared to other seasons. There will ALWAYS. Be. Something. As a wise woman once said to me at a women’s retreat, “every woman you know is either going into a crisis, in a crisis or coming out of a crisis.”
I find myself mentally investigating this unfulfilled expectation of peace: I hold it in my hand, turning it over and raising it to the light to see it as clearly as possible.
Is there a solution to this feeling of unrest in my spirit? I think often of the environmental changes I could make – quit my job, change careers, move, have more kids, volunteer less, volunteer more and so on.
And always I wind up at the point that my circumstances are less the culprit of dissatisfaction and that the true cause is my spirit.
Certainly, a chunk of this unrest might be inherent in the motherhood conundrum: am I doing the right thing?
But honestly, and after much inspection and reflection, the problem is with me.
A few years ago, God spoke to me through a pastor at church who explained that peace, or shalom, did not mean absence of conflict as much as it meant wholeness in/with God.
This was as remarkable of a concept then as it is now. And also? A terribly inconvenient concept. It is much easier if Jesus is the prince of peace when peace means absence of conflict. In the no-conflict scenario, I am bolstered when I then pray for peace during difficult times. “Please make life easy!”
With the idea that peace is wholeness in and with God, I am faced with the reality that life is not easy nor comfortable, and it is not God’s responsibility to make it so. If that isn’t a total bummer in this age of comfort, I don’t know what is.
But, I know that wholeness in spirit is far more attainable in this life than my previous notion of peace. My pursuit of old peace only led to more dissatisfaction and cynicism.
I heard about the shalom explanation of peace years ago and forgot it. Tonight God reminded me of it while I was having my nightly mental conversation about the day’s happenings and internally lamenting “there will always be some sort of conflict!” In the midst of that reflection, I was reminded of shalom. And I was also reminded of God’s gentle and sweet lessons that he lovingly repeats as often as I needed.
Well played God, well played.
I don’t have a nice, neat way to tie this all up. I know it’s christmastime, the perfect season to both be reminded of expectations unfulfilled while simultaneously projecting the perfect Christmas card image. I know it’s hard to imagine any sort of peace amidst the hurried Holiday season.
I don’t even know how this peace revelation will all play out in my life. Knowing me, and my stubborn (persistent) nature, I’m likely to be back in this same mental spot in 30 days.
But maybe not.
It seems to me that living in peace, or wholeness with God, means living as He said: loving God, loving others and serving the world.
“Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now. With every step i take, Let this be my solemn vow: to take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally! Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me!” – Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller