From my last post you know there’s some stuff looming around in life. Always is. And to my friends’ raw realities I can add a slew of difficult circumstances I’m walking through with my own soul and with my family. Finances, self-deprecation, missed opportunities.
Heading into December, I was about to wipe the calendar clean sub one holiday dinner with friends. Things are too much of an inconvenience, I’m too frustrated, and it’s all too stressful. I convinced myself that the wisest choice for my soul was to eliminate situations that would cause me any amount more of pain, resentment, or discomfort.
But as he does, God ever so slightly started shining some light in those dark, hardened places of my heart. The thoughts covered in truth and grace started creeping in and you better believe it was annoying. Annoying because I know the “right” answer and that answer means my pride plays second fiddle to the God who loves me and forgives me despite my constant failings. The right answer is the Holy Spirit pushing me onward to live and love like Jesus. I have a lot of guts thinking that I am able to withhold love when Jesus lived every second of his life perfectly and didn’t even consider it. Annoying.
So semi-reluctantly I added things back on my calendar - things that will have me rubbing shoulders with people in my life who’ve hurt me the most (whether they know it or not).
Shortly after the Holy Spirit nudge I was listening to my favorite podcast – The Next Right Thing with Emily P. Freeman and was so struck by what she said. Note: This is pretty much the only podcast I listen to at all because it’s short and peaceful and really meaningful and normal podcasts for a visual learner who bores easily are a mess of an experience. ANYWAY, she said this:
Peace isn’t dependent upon the room we’re walking into. Instead, because of Immanuel, we bring Peace with us when we walk into rooms.
She flipped my entire way of being upside down in one sentence. And sure it’s not necessarily a new concept of truth but that day it was wholly refreshing and eye-opening to me.
You know by now, I’m so so good at allowing my peace to be determined by my circumstances. HENCE WHY I’M A COMPLETE WRECK. Life is hard, circumstances suck, and consequently I’m a real treat to be around. But am I the only one who finds it quite easy and sickeningly comforting to blame? Blame the ones who have hurt me, blame the situations that are difficult or unfair. Gosh it can feel so good to not take any responsibility for the stress that follows me around like my very own shadow.
But peace isn’t dependent upon the room we’re walking into…we bring Peace with us. The lightbulb came on, the aha moment came – say it however you want – God taught me something. Peace in my soul and the peace I give is not at the hands of the situations I find myself in. I have the final say on the peace that surrounds me because I have the spirit of Jesus residing in me.
This is good news for us in a bunch of eternal ways but let me just be upfront here: my first thought was, this is good news for hosting our Christmas Eve party. Nearly every year in my lifetime we’ve attended or hosted the same party after church. It’s one of the most nostalgic and enjoyable traditions for me. This year though, I wanted to bail. The hosting fell in our laps and while last year we jumped at the chance, this year is a different story. A lot can happen (or not) in a year with relationships and faith and church life, which made this year complicated. And really hard.
But when I heard Emily say those words I literally envisioned my home and the people in it and I smiled. I am not at the hands of my circumstances to experience peace. I can be the Peace bringer. And I WANT to be the Peace bringer. My gosh, can you even imagine?! If you’re close with me you’re probably thinking, nope I in fact cannot imagine. Well sweet family and friends, I’m going to try. Because while holding grudges and prideful resentments can feel good for a time, that time is temporary and detrimental and I have been called to live wholly differently. And the idea of being someone who brings Peace into a space is really lovely.
In his recent sermon, our pastor from Richmond put it this way: If peace depends on external circumstances being peaceful, we personally probably stand little chance at finding peace. The Bible suggests peace is possible even when circumstances aren’t peaceful.
Praise God for that and praise God for his grace with slow learners like myself. If you’re white knuckling your less-than-idyllic circumstances and relationships kind of like I am, be encouraged – because of Immauel, God with us, we can bring Peace with us.