Anxiety/Worry, Faith/Spirituality

“I’ll be peace”

In the 90’s there was a movie that came out called “What About Bob?”. Anyone seen it? I saw it approximately 5 times, at the dollar theatre, in college. And I have probably seen it at least 5 more times at home and with my kids since then. One of my favorite scenes is when psychiatrist Richard Dryfus comes raging into his 10-yr-old son’s bedroom where he and Billy Murray (a patient of Dryfus, operating on more of a 10-yr-old level) are laughing and rough housing. He yells at them, “I want some peace and quiet!” At first they freeze, stifling their giggles, and then one of them says, “Ok-I’ll be quiet.” And the other, with a smirk, says, “I’ll be peace.” 😂

I was remembering this scene as I was reflecting on the longing I have for peace. I want to “be peace” too. Naturally, I had to look it up, and my favorite definition is “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.” The reason I was ruminating on the idea of peace was because the last several entries I have read in my daily reading all mentioned it repeatedly. Apparently, I am not the only one who wants/needs peace.

I do think, though, that I may desire it at an unreasonable level. I mean, there is no end to list of areas I wish peace could reign. I want peace in my heart and head (peace of mind, serenity if spirit). I want peace within my home (among my children, God help us, and my spouse). I want peace with my friends, my clients, my co-workers, store clerks and fellow drivers. I also want all of those same people to have peace with each other. And for my kids to have peace with all their classmates. I want peace between me and God and I want everyone I know and everyone they know to also have peace with God. Do you think I am being unrealistic? Maybe just a touch.

But honestly, I don’t think I am alone in my wishing for peace. In fact, that seems to be the dominating desire of God’s heart as well. If you recall, the greatest commandment in the Old and New Testament is “Love God. Love People.” Love is at the very root of peace. God sent Jesus to this world to live and to die so that we can finally be at peace with God himself. Jesus made it possible for us to be one with God again, taking on himself the sin that once separated us. Freeing us to live in harmony with God.

You may have heard someone point out that the words “do not fear” appear 365 times in the Bible. Once for every day of the calendar year. It doesn’t sound as cool, but the word “peace” actually appears approximately 429 times. Once for every day of the year and then some. Why? Because I am not the only one obsessed with having, giving, promoting, organizing, and communicating the significance of living in peace. God definitely was. And this is just my opinion, so take what you like and leave the rest, but I believe you can sum up the theme of the entire bible with that one word. Peace.

God has put that same desire in us. Think of all we do to acquire peace. We pray and meditate. We too often medicate. We take vacations and get massages and take yoga classes. We pay psychologists and listen to speakers and pastors and podcasts. We read self-help books and bibles and horoscopes. We even fight wars and sign treaties. Some of these things work for us and some don’t. But our desire to be right, to be at peace, with ourselves and our neighbors and our God is something we were designed to want.

So I guess I don’t have to feel bad for my preoccupation with peace. I think I am in good company. I realize I am barely scratching the surface of the fullness of this beautiful word. But I hope it prompts you to contemplate your level of peace (with yourself, others and God) and what legitimate and illegitimate ways you have been trying to obtain it.

-Peace out, my friend ✌️ (that’s slang for “Grace and peace to you”, for anyone over 40 or without teenager children)

 

Brokenness, Faith/Spirituality, Relationships

Peaceful protest:It’s time to fight

A few months back I bought tickets for my husband and i to see a comedian in St. Louis this weekend. How could we have known that it would fall the day after a white police officer in that area was acquitted for shooting an African American teenager several years back? We ate a leisurely, lovely dinner at a suspiciously un-crowded restaurant across from the theatre. We knew there had been some rioting the day before and that a couple large concerts were cancelled, but it didn’t occur to us until after we ate to check in about the status of our event. The status? Cancelled. We had booked a hotel room and everything. Pretty disappointed, we decided to walk down the street and check out the area. Less than a block away, on the Delmar Loop, we could see we might be in for something we didn’t anticipate. Something historic and confusing and to be honest, a little intimidating.

We stood on the corner observing a fairly peaceful but emotional protest. At that time, there was chanting and occasional yelling or crying from the people on megaphones, standing in the middle of the intersection. A man to my right was standing on top of his car, in stopped traffic, eating his dinner from a styrofoam container, watching. We watched too. And I cannot fail to mention that I felt like a target for some sort of negative attention as I gawked in my red, hot-pink and white sundress and high heels. It was obvious that my reasons for being there were very different from theirs and I felt a tinge of embarrassment. Like I wasn’t taking this serious enough.

After a few minutes, an African American man walking past us started to engage us in conversation. I happened to be videoing with my phone at the time (along with hundreds of others in the crowd) and caught his words. I can’t stop thinking about them. He said, “They have to fight. They’re tired here.”

Does anybody else know how hard it is to fight when you are tired? I don’t pretend to have ever known anything like racial discrimination. Let’s make that clear up front. And I don’t mean to minimize the kind of “tired” that comes as result of generations of “fighting”. But for the purpose of personal reflection that we can all identify with, let’s just talk about that statement on another level for a few minutes.

This man’s words keep coming to my mind, days later, because I have to confess, I am “tired”. I have been tired for about 6 years. That’s when life as I knew it was flipped inside out, wadded up and smashed into smithereens. It didn’t happen over night, but it sure felt like it. I am sure you have had those defining moments in your life too. And unfortunately, the effects of it feel like a movie that never ends. Or at least one whose plot never quite resolves. In about a months time we changed jobs, friend groups and homes. Throughout this time, we battled the family disease of addiction. And just when I felt like I might be gaining some traction in the new-normal life, the disease of Leukemia descended on us as well. That just took the tired to a whole new level. Emotional and physical exhaustion have been threatening to over-take me for years.

But like the dude on the street points out, when you are tired is when it is most important to fight. And he would be correct. I have never been more tired, and I also have never fought harder to not be swallowed up by that tiredness. I have worked out my emotions with counselors and confidants. I have prayed and repented and forgiven and made amends. I have been humbled by my loss of status and my loss of hair. I have repaired some old friendships and built dozens of new ones. I have had to learn how to truly live and let live and let go and let God. I have had to re-learn things I always thought I believed because I realized my arrogant and self-righteous attitude had been keeping me from the real truth for decades. Fighting to un-learn what I thought I knew has been one of the hardest parts of the battle to date.

If you happen to be tired too, this is when it is most crucial that you engage in the fight. At times, it may look like a peaceful sit-in, but more than likely, it will occasionally require a violent removal of all you once thought you knew about life and love and God. But it will be worth it. Fight for, or against, whatever is necessary so that you can emerge from the battle rested and restored.