Peace ~ What're You Afraid Of? (Part 4 of 10)
Read and potentially memorize Philippians 4:7.
*This story is enhanced if you pre-read “Too Important to Ever Forget.”*
Within the last few months, three youth have shared with me their desire to harm themselves. And I know, beyond a shadow of doubt in my mind, they are but a small number of youth I know who have thought about it. The path to this dark, dark place is as different as each individual who found themselves there. I wonder, what is in common among all who think this world would be better off without them in it?
At first reading, I assume you will find this comment trivial and an oversimplification of a complex and difficult situation: the absence of love, is a journey to a dark, dark, dark, place. I’ll explain.
The opposite of love is fear. (Everything else I have to say about peace is based on that comment.)
Hate is an emotion born in fear. Test that comment. Do you find it to be true?
Fear is a poison, and enough of it can kill.
We all have fear, absolutely everyone. We all drink its poison. All of our lives are made toxic by it.
Since we all live with it, why do some of us become consumed by it, and others thrive in it?
Even though we all experience fear, every day, all of the time, we do not all respond to it the same.
Fear, when in the right perspective, shapes many of our good decisions. Fear of getting burned keeps our hands off the stove. When fear is a motivation for love, and love wins, then fear is understood, appreciated and respected. To complete the stove example, when fear keeps us from harming ourselves (or others) it is a tool used to love. When fear motivates us to harm, then it is a poison we willingly drink. Back to my opening premise; the absence of love, is a journey to a dark place.
What are you afraid of? I’m not referring to snakes or spiders. Yes, they have the potential to harm us. I am asking, what are you afraid of that challenges your self-esteem? (journal)
Peace is lost,
. . .when fear rests continually in the gut,
. . .when doubt is the strongest emotion,
. . .when paranoia runs rampant and when disappointment is expected,
then peace becomes all that is desired, and yet eludes.
What robs you of peace? What issue(s) do you lose sleep over? Consider, and if you choose, write down any of these concepts which you find easy to relate to. (journal)
- Has someone hurt you, and you find yourself overly focused on it?
- Does someone, or someone’s power, intimidate you and hold you down?
- Have you experienced a failure, and still feel the weight of that burden?
- Do you feel unfairly judged?
- Have you hurt someone, and the lack of resolution has a knot in your stomach?
- When you look in the mirror, are you overly critical?
- So you torment yourself over unmet expectations? Letting someone down? Saying the wrong thing? Making a fool of yourself?
- Do others expect you to always be on top and the expectation becomes a burden?
- Do you “need” to excel, and the self-inflicted pressure is consuming?
- Do you struggle with feeling invisible, wanting it and hating it at the same time?
- Do you feel rejected by a particular person or people?
- Do you feel mis-understood or mis-represented?
- Do your commitments and obligations create substantial stress which overwhelms you?
- Have events in your life left you angry?
- Do you feel unheard?
- Do you grieve? Are you left with deep sadness?
- Do you respond to your challenges by withdrawing from people and pulling inward?
- Does a person in your circle govern whether or not you are up or down?
- Do you feel compared to someone else?
- Is there something you have done which you feel labels you, and you can’t move past it?
- Are you disappointed in God, for prayers not answered, or expectations not realized?
- What robs you of peace? Fill out your own answer. (journal)
What goes on in your head? Is there turmoil? Is there chaos? Is there peace? Sometimes, peace is stolen from us by someone or something else. Sometimes, chaos is thrust upon us? Sometimes, we invite chaos into our lives. Regardless, chaos often breeds fear? We become afraid of the consequences of chaos. All too often, we anticipate the worst consequence of chaos even when the worst outcome is the least likely. Why do we expect the worst? Fear.
Fear demands to be seen under a microscope.
It magnifies, seems larger than it is.
Even a little fear, destroys big picture perspective and distorts big picture realities.
The opposite of fear is love.
When you love, after others have wounded you, your wounds heal quickly.
When you forgive your trespassers, the power of their trespass melts away.
When set-backs threaten to break your back, love yourself.
Love you, like God loves you, overwhelming and constant.
When circumstances threaten to drown you, be reminded, you will survive.
In the big picture of your loooooooong life, this chaos will pass.
So love your life, chaos and all, and focus on the big picture of who you are and who you will become after this chaos is in your past.
Be reminded: God is the God of peace. God is in the business of restoration.
God is best at recreating and new beginnings.
You are not alone. God hears your prayers, knows your griefs, feels your pain, and comes to your aide.
How does one live in chaotic places?
Knowing that God lives in the same room with you.
Knowing that you are not alone; therefore, there is hope.
Knowing that God is bigger than anything you are facing today.
Believing that God sees a future you cannot see today.
Knowing that there is incredible loving to be done in spite of poison.
God can relieve you of your pain, heal your wounds, give you strength to go on.
God offers power to dispel poison.
God grants courage to do the difficult.
God provides wisdom to channel your love.
You are not alone. You have God to hold on to.
And God is not alone either. God has you.
You are a manifestation of God. God uses you to share hope with those lost in chaos.
When you find yourself overwhelmed in conflict, and you reach out to faithful people, God uses them to remind you of possibilities you can no longer see.
Hope enlightens perspective and renders chaos impotent so that you may continue to breathe, exhale, and live fully.
You are called to difficult love, in difficult times, in difficult situations, for difficult people.
But you can do that. You want to do that. You will do that.
In the end, it is love that will heal, restore, and reunite.
And peace will return.
You will weather the poisons of disappointment and you will not merely survive. You will THRIVE!
You will not merely endure. You will FLOURISH!
Your heart will once again celebrate the blessings of life.
Peace is yours . . . to claim, to receive, to own, and to celebrate.
Peace is not something you wait for. Peace is for now.
Peace is not something to anticipate after the effects of the poison subside.
Peace is claimed while toxins linger.
This peace is not humanly possible without the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Take this moment, shut out all distraction, and claim this day as a day of peace.
You have already named the manifestations of fear in your life.
Now, commit to dispel the things that rob peace. Desire peace in your life. Seek peace.
Certainly do not contribute to chaos with your negativity, pessimism or doubt.
May this “peaceful place” be your challenge, your goal to live within and exude to all who witness you.
This is too important to ever forget. Internal peace is something you choose, regardless of circumstance. (Re-read that sentence.) It is the Fruit from the Holy Spirit that God showers on people who comprehend who they are as a child of God and how they are called to live in this world.
Regardless of the chaos, in spite of real pain and deep wounds, God offers peace so that you can do more than survive. You can thrive! When you have only been able to endure you can flourish! You were born to experience peace and offer peace to a chaotic world. Today, more than any other day, choose peace as your demeanor. Share peace, repeatedly and enthusiastically. When fear, doubt, or negativity find a voice within you or around you, claim peace. May this string around your finger elicit a breath prayer every time you see it. May your prayer remind you that peace is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is yours to seek, experience and share.
Be challenged. And then be ready to be blessed by peace.
Tie a string around your third finger and may it remind you of the power of peace.
Choose a breath prayer and memorize. Here are three examples for your consideration:
- “Holy Spirit, fill me with peace. Use me to inspire peace.”
- “May the seed of peace in me, bear Fruit of peace around me.”
- “As I rest in the Holy Spirit, peace rests in me.”
Repeat this prayer to yourself every time you glance at the string around your finger.
Say it. . .maybe 20 times today.
Mean it when you say it at least 5 times.
Change what you are doing to reflect this prayer at least once, today.
May this spiritual discipline today, bring you closer to God and closer to the person God hopes you will become.
Take time to reflect, journal, pray.
In the opening welcome and introduction to this website, I shared the Scripture that inspired this online adventure, I Tim 6:20. This text is also the origination of the name; “Sacred Chatter.” However, my intent is not to be a singular voice. I invite your voice to be a part of the “chat” and I base this on another of my favorite Scriptures: Hebrews 10:24. “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” I am considering how I can provoke love and good deeds in places beyond where I live. This is my attempt to enter into a Hebrews 10 conversation with you over social media.digitally. Now, I am interested in your feedback. Consider what provoking you can provide with your own Sacred Chatter.
What’s important to you? What really matters?
Add your voice in Sacred Chatter.
Love is ours to provoke. Good deeds are ours to sew.
That the wisdom of Hebrews 10 may flourish and grow.
Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they’re potential mediums for the Hebrews 10 plan.
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