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During the month of December, the word peace saturated our world. We heard it in the lyrics of holiday music, Christmas messages, seasonal services, community celebrations, and read it in the greetings on our cards.
Peace on earth.
But what does it mean to “find” peace?
The Oxford Online Dictionary defines peace as “freedom from disturbance; tranquility.” This definition can refer to an inner state of being or a description of our relationship with the world around us. Practically speaking, inner peace is always tied to issues of our daily life and the way we navigate those issues.
How does someone “find” freedom from inner disturbance and tranquility? Psalm 34:14 tells us to “seek peace and pursue it.” Romans 8:6 tells us “…the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” The interesting thing about these verses in the Bible (and others) is that they describe peace as something that is the result of an active process. One of those processes is described as pursuing peace. Another process is described as controlling our mind.
Finding peace amid life changes has characterized my life. In my journey of pursuing peace, I applied the following key principles:
Treat people as you want to be treated, and as much as possible, live peacefully with others.
Think the best of people. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Treat others with dignity and respect. Offer hospitality. Be generous. Listen and learn—especially from those who come from different cultures and backgrounds. Sometimes different cultural perceptions can lead to misinterpretation and miscommunication.
How do these practices help us find peace? When we treat people as we wish to be treated—with dignity and love—we often gain their respect, as well as a listening ear. Treating people well also frees us from bitterness and anger.
Listen for God’s voice.
No matter what circumstances may look like, you are not alone. Circumstances typically tell us that we should give up and people will always let us down. But even when our inner voice tells us otherwise, we can count on God.
When seeking peace from God, I often ask, “What is God asking me to do?”
I’ve learned from experience to begin looking for answers in His Word. God always supplies the wisdom we need for any task He asks us to do. What does His Word say about this topic? What is He saying to me when I pray? Ask Him for wisdom about what to do, then trust Him to help you move forward.
Live with gratitude.
When has God provided for you in special ways? How has He blessed you? Describe times when He’s intervened on your behalf in miraculous or out-of-the-ordinary ways. Never cease to be overwhelmed by all God has done for you.
Possessing gratitude doesn’t mean having a “thank you” on our lips when we receive something. Living with gratitude means that we live with a profound sense of thankfulness for all God has done for us. This gratitude drives what we do for others and the daily choices we make. For instance, a person who lives with gratitude will be generous and others-centered because of the enormous debt of love they feel toward God. Those who live with gratitude feel compelled to love, sacrifice, and serve.
One of my favorite family songs when I was growing up was a hymn titled, Count your Blessings.” This hymn was titled “Bara Iyo Migisha Nonaha” in Kinyarwanda. Each time I sang this song it reminded me to take a deep breath and offer God gratitude for what He had already done. This gave me peace, knowing His blessings were still available to me. You can listen to the hymn by clicking on the link below.
Freely offer forgiveness and seek reconciliation.
When we understand that many things in life are beyond our control, we begin to release our grip. This often brings comforting peace. We no longer must strive to control our world. The Serenity Prayer written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr states the process this way: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”
Live in the moment.
Learn to be content and make every effort to invest your life “where your feet are placed.” Investing in life means maximizing present opportunities because we understand that we are stewards of the present. Investing in the present helps create the best possible future as we make wise decisions and live according to a guiding, godly worldview. Living in the moment requires an appreciation for all we’ve been blessed with in the past applied to the decisions we make in the present to provide blessing for ourselves and those around us in the future.
Minimize things, people, activities and exposure to environments that are “peace killers” in your life.
This requires reflection and self-assessment in order to identify what steals our peace. Sometimes our actions, words, thoughts and behaviors steal our peace.
- What words, thoughts, and behaviors (yours) undermine your peace? Why? What do you think is a step toward positive change?
- Do you need to limit your interactions with certain people, environments, technology, things or with the media because they steal your peace? Which ones and why?
- Do you need to positively reframe your self-talk? In what areas?
- Do you need to treat others with greater respect? Who? Why?
- Do you need to create healthy relationship boundaries for yourself? With whom? Why?
- Do you need to create healthy work boundaries for yourself? Why?
- What things do you do and say that disrupt peace for others? Evaluate why and the steps you need to take to change this.
- What you can do to change yourself and remove self-imposed barriers to your peace. We don’t need to engage in every argument, every discussion, every activity if they are robbing our peace.
Create an Inner Peace Plan
- Set limits. This may mean office hours, quiet times and bedtimes for your children, or limiting the ways your clients can contact you. You do not and should not be available to everyone in your life whenever they choose. Set limits on the number of things you will be involved in. Just because you can do something does not mean you should do something. Guard your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
- Learn to breathe. Literally. Deep breathing exercises can reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and help re-focus the mind. You can find techniques HERE.
- Keep the main thing the main thing. Don’t make mountains out of molehills, and don’t invest emotional energy in nonessentials. Let go of grudges, purge negative attitudes, eliminate draining relationships and behaviors. Focus on healthy attitudes and behaviors that keep you moving ahead.
- Slow down. Unclutter your world and your mind. Streamline your commitments in order to create margin in your life. Plan ahead so you can arrive early and prepared.
- Spend time with God in prayer and His Word. Nothing can replace time meditating on God’s Word, praying, and seeking His wisdom regarding your priorities and plans. He alone is in control, and you can trust you’re Him to lead your steps.
- Engage in peace-promoting activities. Take time to get away alone, spend focused time with loved ones, and purposefully participate in things that help you find needed inner peace.
As I incorporated these and other principles in my life, I found increased inner peace. This deepened my relationship with God and drew me closer to those I love.
What has helped you find inner peace? What has or has not worked for you? I’d love to hear from you.
Peace and Health,