I’ve had a taste of peace. I’m talking real peace during my day, where I am negotiating with 5-year-olds without getting flustered, moving through uncomfortable conversations at work with ease and content in walking out my door being myself. This peace did not happen over night, my friends, nor am I at peace 24 hours a day, but I will tell you this: I want MORE.
Eleven years ago I was a mess. Consumed by anxiety and obsessed with being the very best wife and mother, I did not want anything in my life out of place. I was forcing a smile on the outside, but full of turmoil on the inside. After years of being a pill and having no real joy, I was beginning to disgust even myself. Deep down, there was this peaceful person bursting to come out and after years of living life the world’s way, I was getting nowhere but more frustrated, more judgmental and downright twitchy.
Sitting in a mess of anxiety, post partum hormones and unrealistic expectations about being a modern domestic woman, I called it quits. I was exhausted with being in charge of my own life. At that very moment, I gave myself up to God and asked him to take over. Now, let’s pause a moment. It’s possible to talk about a higher power (who I choose to call God) and not be a fanatic Bible-banging maniac. I subscribe to a message of LOVE, which is straight up what Jesus is all about. I move about my day like any other woman: wife-ing, mothering, working, cleaning, cooking, spending time with friends, obsessed with honey oat pies and tea, and giddy with excitement over decorating my house. But a girl’s got to have support for all the commotion up in her head. My therapist can’t hang out with me all day, so in my quest for peace, I decided to look a bit more into this whole “God” relationship. I could almost hear the heavens cheering: “HOORAY! She’s finally given up!”
For the last 11 years, the Holy Spirit and I have been exclusively hanging out. He’s been high-fiving me when I make quality decisions and, I am certain, cringing when I fall down. Nicely paralleled with my own screw-ups, our family has been faced with an ongoing circle of crisis: bankruptcy, car accidents, perplexing health concerns, job loss, death, identity theft, and – crazily – so much more. While some of these are the “easier” stressors of life like skinned knees, hurt feelings and the norovirus, one thing remained a constant steady peace in my heart – my belief in a higher power.
There has to be some explanation for the quiet place in my heart that tells me not to eat an entire jar of Nutella when I’m stressed, right? And when I look around and see not only the miracle of life in the form of my children, but the leaves changing color like clock work and the strange beauty of my daughter’s creepy hermit crabs, I’m compelled to believe something bigger than me had a hand in making this world come together.
Once I welcomed this idea of love and peace into my heart, I realized that the relationship I had with God is exactly the kind of relationship I have with my children. “Lessons” began to surface, almost like a cup of cold water to my face, as I repeated the idea of practicing patience to my 11-year-old. “Sometimes we don’t know the answer to things and we must be patient,” I explained. “Do something while you’re waiting for what you want.” His frustration mirrored my own as I waited for new jobs and our families’ collective health to get better, not knowing when or if that would eventually happen. “There will continue to be times in life when you don’t know, or you can’t have what you want right at that moment – and while it’s annoyingly frustrating – we can still have peace while we’re waiting.”
I can only compare this to the cringe-worthy moment when you realize you’ve turned into your mother and her words are flowing out of your mouth. The relationship I have with God is now in everything I do, from the tiny insignificant choices like making dinner and what hair color to choose next, to major life choices in accepting jobs and buying a home.
This intimacy, not to mention the peace I have, is palpable and I am fighting like mad to have that – every day.
What’s funny is that life has never been more chaotic, but now that I have accepted the fact that the events of the day will bring disorder, my reaction to the pandemonium is what makes or breaks my peace. I went from being tangled in anxiety to making a conscious effort to breathe and walk in peace during the day, meditating on the Word of God. A LOT. I have postcards in my pocket and notes all over my house full of Bible verses, so I am prepared when I feel myself slipping from believing in all God has promised me.
Eleven years ago, I would have been mulling over a horrifying news story or gladly participating in gossip I heard at work, lost in discontent. But now, I am lost in thoughts of literally, “What would Jesus do?” and have finally found peace. When you find this peace, you will crave it and when your day gets rocky, you will do whatever it takes to get that peace back. I came to the realization that, no matter what, people are going to judge me. My to-do lists will never be complete; my children will always be working through a milestone, a problem, or healing from something. But when doubt fills my mind now, instead of spiraling into fear first, I am giddy to remind myself that I believe in God.
“Bring it on, because I don’t subscribe to being scared to live anymore!” is one of my many mottos. After a few air punches and some tea, that peace, even if it’s only a partial wash over, fills my heart. And at that moment, I can feel my friend the Holy Spirit and my angels cheering.
This article was originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on October 2, 2017.