It might seem odd to say that peace, or the state of peace, requires conflict first. But in my life, that’s been true.
Recently I’ve had to fight extra hard for peace. Especially with the health of my son and me. The problem is I don’t want to fight. I just want to sleep. I will go ahead and blame pregnancy, but I don’t have much energy mentally or physically anymore. Some days I just want the pregnancy to be over and my son to get here already.
But there is growth and work left to be done in the season so I can’t abandon it yet. And so, the fight for peace continues.
There doesn’t seem to be an exact formula for peace, although I would love to give you one. I adore input-output formulas that allow me to know exactly what to expect. But in real life and in real relationships, there is no such thing.
For me, the fight for peace comes through two main practices. When I first get serious about peace, I need to look at the worst case scenarios and decide if I will survive them or not. This is the practice of Telling Myself The Truth. As I churn through the various catastrophes, I discover with surprising regularity that I will survive. Every time. That I won’t find myself alone, and that I will be okay.
Once I’ve examined all the worst-case scenarios and discovered that I can survive them, I do feel better. It’s relief, but not contentment. It doesn’t keep me afloat.
But the next part of fighting for peace is the part that keeps me there. Gratitude is my real liferaft. Recognizing all the good in my life and God’s intervention in the past tense is the discipline that lets me stay in this place of peace for more than a few hours. Gratitude is a home I come back to when I feel displaced or out of sorts, when I feel discontent or fearful.
The practice of thankfulness and gratitude keeps me oriented to all the ways God has helped me, blessed me, giving me far beyond what I thought I needed or deserved. It reminds me that I walk on this path for his namesake, his reputation, not my own. He has staked his own name on how I how well I do and how things go for me. So I can calm down and relax because I know that he is invested in how my journey turns out.
Last night I whined to a few friends in the group that meets in my home Tuesday evenings. I told them about how I feel blimpy and elephant-like, slow and plodding, and I don’t much like this version of myself. But I don’t really want to gripe. I don’t just want to be done with pregnancy. I want my peace back.
This morning, I know I need gratitude more than anything. And more than usual. Although I am not fearful for the future with my son as much as I was a week ago, I still feel worn out and in need of a lift.
So here is what I am thankful for, in no particular order:
– I am thankful for two healthy children who bring me great joy, even while one of them is still living in my womb
– I am thankful for a husband who accepts me, loves me and encourages me
– I am thankful for a job that I like, with great health insurance and lots of opportunities to be creative
– I am thankful for a church community that embraces me in my weirdness and authenticity without making me feel like I need to change
– I am thankful for a God who relentlessly pursues me, despite my attempts to disconnect
– I am thankful for words, to speak and to write them, to read and enjoy them, and my ability to communicate
– I am thankful for laughter, and the people who bring it to me. Usually that’s my husband and my son. And of course, Jimmy Fallon
I’m telling you, gratitude has magical powers. Or something like that. It’s impossible to stay cranky and frightened when I actively engage in remembering all the good swirling around me in abundance. So try it out. Start your fight for peace simply and quietly, with a short list of who and what you love. Then watch what happens.
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