2018 was my first full year without Mom – without her presence, her voice, and her gentle reminders; much of what I learned still stems from her example – she was my role model for how to overcome mental anguish (anxiety and nerve problems, anyone?) and to live a life where peace is possible in the midst of the process.
Do y’all love Steven and Holly Furtick as much as I do? When Mom was diagnosed with cancer, God led me to their podcast. The encouragement I found there brightened many an otherwise dreary day. Mom and I listened together to and from treatments. The content of this blog is based loosely on last week’s message, “The Path to Peace.” Here is the energy I’m taking into 2019:
- You can’t experience peace when you are expecting perfection.
About 20 years ago, I began to struggle with OCD tendencies. I clearly recall mopping the kitchen in our new to us double wide trailer and noticing how dirt was ingrained into the vinyl flooring. There were these little grooves and ridges and this was BEFORE the dawn of Magic Erasers (ranked #1 on my list of life changing cleaning tools!) and no amount of mopping, application of cleaner, or even scrubbing with a rag would remove this dirt. Everytime I went to mop my floors – it was a lot with a toddler – there was that dirt, mocking me and making me feel like my house was less than perfect. I was letting a piece of linoleum steal my peace. Little did I realize a couple of years and another kid later there would be plenty of spills to distract me and I’d be too thankful to find the time to mop to worry about a little missed dirt. Peace is relative, but so is perfection! Make 2019 the year you care for your mental health by letting go of the idea of perfection.
2. Stop waiting for peace and start walking in it.
When I look at the first post on this blog (it has languished for over a year because I could only think of so many ways to say “My mom is gone”) one point really stands out: the correlation between having a quiet mind, at least from time to time, and to being able to walk in peace. Some people paint to relax, some get outdoors, while others make items or craft. According to Steven Covey and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this down time or “sharpening the saw”, is crucial to leading a successful life. In the past year, I have tried my hand at journaling (Staedtler pens are premium, but sadly I’m not artistic), reading – 26 books to be exact, and plain ole zoning out online and with social media. The fact that I have 51k tweets is indicative of two things – not only do I have enough to say to create a blog, but I also enjoy words so much I support others who have something to say as well by retweeting. Writing quiets my mind, and it’s impossible to walk in peace with a mind that is never quiet. In 2019, do whatever helps you close those tabs and relax your mind to find peace.
3. Take your peace in pieces.
If we are waiting until the moon aligns with the stars and all systems are go, we will never experience the peace Christ intended for our lives. With a middle school teaching job, a kid in college and one in high school, and a plethora of animals, the days can get pretty hectic! Some days my piece of peace is closing my door for 15 minutes during planning time. Other days it’s when everyone goes to bed before I do bedtime chores. I have a regular habit of getting up first (I even set alarms to do this when I’m off work) so I can have that coveted first cup of coffee and my devotional time before anyone else gets out of bed; this gets my day going in the right direction and helps me to cope with potential stressors. Let 2019 be the year you are better prepared for the unanticipated by taking your peace in pieces.
4. You miss peace when focused on the missing pieces.
Guys, I’m not going to lie. This is the hardest one for me and it has taken me over a year to get here. Even though some people lose parents at much younger ages, I was not prepared to lose Mom at the age of forty. That said, 2018 taught me we all have something missing. Whether it’s a parent, that spouse you’ve been praying for, financial help and support, or your own health or that of a loved one, sustained states of perfection do not exist on this earth. The things we can see here are temporal, but our relationship with God is eternal. Mom knew these things and she taught them to her children and to all who knew her. We never had an abundance of money, but she looked to Jesus as her source. As a single Mom, she chose not to focus on the missing pieces, but instead entrusted those empty jars to Jesus. There was always, always enough.
The peace you seek is not the absence of problems, but the ability to keep walking through them. The calendar won’t fix your chaos; in 2019, stop waiting for peace and start walking in it. Turn off the news, put down your phone, and do those things that nourish your soul. There is beauty in a quiet life.. praying for your peace in 2019 and beyond. Happy New Year!