Peace is a big topic to tackle. It is not my intent to touch on every aspect of peace, nor do I claim to be any sort of expert on the subject. Indeed, I am a student of peace. I recognize and honor the need for peace amongst various people groups, in areas of poverty and war, in the dark spaces of abuse, and in so many other areas, globally, systematically, and interpersonally.
For the sake of this series as it pertains to Advent, I am speaking from my own perspective, focusing inner peace as we relate to our Savior.
As I sit here typing this morning, I am surrounded by what I can only describe as a constant humdrum of chaos.
I literally had to part the crumbs on the counter like the Red Sea just to have a space to open up my iPad. There are pillows and boxes and blankets and toy airplanes all over the floor. The breakfast dishes are still scattered across the table, sticky and forgotten. There’s a makeshift bed on the floor next to mine, created last night in hopes that a scared and sick little one might finally fall asleep (spoiler alert: he did, but in MY bed). On the desk is an impressive sculpture of papers, mail, projects and to-do lists that never quite seem to get completed. My email inbox overfloweth. The laundry overfloweth. A box of Christmas cards has taken up residence on the floor, begging to be stuffed, stamped, and sent out. The cacophony of noise is enough to send my brain into a tailspin. And with too many things vying for my attention, my house is anything but tranquil.
Yet weirdly, there is a sense of peace.
I used to think that I could somehow clean, organize, and “to-do list” my way toward peace. I believed that if my space felt peaceful that I would automatically be peaceful. Trust me when I say I have given that a valiant effort in the midst of three small kids and multiple pets (and all the sane and logical people laughed one thousand laughs). Thankfully I have realized that I just can’t achieve it. At least, I can’t do it well and still be a nice person.
What I’ve come to know is this: no amount of clean baseboards or completed tasks will bring me peace if I don’t first have peace in my heart. If I don’t believe this I will die a frenzied and exhausted woman.
“Peace” comes from the Hebrew word “shalom” which means “to be complete” or “whole.”
Being WHOLE means that I am content in WHO I am and WHOSE I am and that I am free to live fully into the messy life God has plunked me into right now. I can fix my eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. Since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18.)
In other words, a little less Martha Stewart, a little more Mary-At-His-Feet. Does anyone else feel a sense of relief about this? Listen to what I’m saying: DO LESS. It’s not about the doing. It’s about the being.
You guys, I seem to need to relearn this almost daily.
Now, I’m not saying let your home and life come wildly undone. Lord knows I love a tidy space and an organized calendar as much as anyone. What I’m saying is, don’t let your need to control overrule your longing to connect.
Peace, or wholeness, does not look like the absence of chaos. Peace looks a lot like nestling in to the mess, hunkering down with every work-in-progress, and literally embracing the chaos (which sometimes comes in the very real form of a disheveled preschooler). Peace is knowing that Jesus will redeem every bit of it. Peace is finding freedom in this truth to fix our eyes on what is unseen. Things like grace, love, connection, forgiveness, tenderness, joy, and kindness. Things like showing souls, little and big ones alike, that they really really matter.
When we can shift our view of wholeness to one of eternal perspective, we are free to celebrate that Jesus was born and came for us all, regardless of whether our tree is Instagram-ready or if the kids are dressed like angels on Christmas Eve.
Let this be an invitation. You are hereby released from scurrying about, frantically doing all the things. You are allowed to sit down and delight in who you are and whose you are. You are free to receive the gift of peace, even in the midst of chaos.
Now excuse me while I power this down and neglect the dirty dishes and the Christmas cards for a bit longer. There’s a little boy gazing expectantly at me with his chocolate brown eyes, asking to play cars.❤️