If you were to ask me what the one thing is I seek lately, my answer would be peace. Internally, the past year has seen me struggle with faith, relationships, my past and my identity. I’m sure some would call this a “mid-life crisis” and perhaps they would be right. All I know is, there are periods in life where everything changes almost all at once, whether that’s a crisis or just a turning point, one thing it isn’t is peaceful.
The world around us is in political chaos. We fight over rights and identities and security. We see threats to our way of life and our well-being everywhere we turn.
It’s very, very difficult not to get drawn into the constant back forth between who is right and who is right-er. Sometimes it’s even difficult to know where I stand day-to-day, internally, externally and anywhere else. How do I find peace when everything around me screams to choose a side or take a stand?
This is the part where I want to make a tidy list so I can check it off as I go, but peace is seldom so tidy and neat. In fact, it’s the pursuit of easy answers which has us all so tied in knots. Peace is complicated because people are complicated. This is one of the few blanket statements we can make about humanity. We are each entirely unique. We are complex individuals.
There is no one size fits all.
For myself, I’ve stopped even considering group speak, group opinions and people groups. I simply cannot define every person by where I assume she fits in the larger puzzle of humanity. Every person has a story and a perspective that is entirely their own. When someone begins to define large groups of people under one umbrella, I simply stop listening and then …
I don’t argue back. Let’s be honest, when most of us tell our opinion or belief system or whatever we choose to call it, it’s not because we are interested in the opposing viewpoint, and it’s certainly not because we are interested in being persuaded (rest assured, I am speaking very much about myself in this scenario.) Opinions are like shooting an arrow blindfolded, potentially deadly, but probably not actually going to hit anything.
You know how the best discussions with the most respectful sharing of beliefs and ideas happens? With someone who is respected and shares a mutual desire to communicate, almost always in very small groups. There’s little mutual respect in a crowd.
I’m saving my words for those rare moments, and I’m bringing the gentle ones, the kind ones, the ones which speak of shared humanity and common interest in the well-being of mankind.
I’m letting myself off the hook for not having all the answers. I’m asking questions and waiting to hear the whole answer without already planning how I’ll come back. I’m believing the best of everyone I see, and allowing the same grace on myself. I’m letting God be big, huge, more than I am comfortable with and certainly far beyond my understanding. I’m resting in these things, knowing they are enough. I am enough.
I’m giving myself room to change, to be wrong, to grow and gain perspective and understanding. I try to be quick with an apology and slow to take offense.
I realize I’ve opened myself up for at least a thousand arguments over the moral responsibility or national security or even personal safety. I think it would have bothered me more even just a few weeks ago, but today, I am at peace with myself internally. These are the ways I need to see the world in order to have peace with myself and with my God.
I’m so grateful to friends who aren’t afraid to bump against hard things and share their experience with me. Reading The Anatomy of Peace gave me the tools I needed to smooth my jumbled up thoughts into a narrative I can share and work with.
What books or stories or people have shaped your life lately? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.I'm giving myself room to change, to be wrong, to grow and gain perspective and understanding.Click To Tweet
Latest posts by Dana Portwood (see all)
- How This One Daily Practice Is Bringing Back My Sanity - June 20, 2016
- How I’m Learning to Be a Peacemaker - June 6, 2016
- How to Believe We Are Good - May 23, 2016