Living At Peace With Yourself
One of the many things I am resolving to change this new year to improve is how I share my opinions.
I'm also deciding to give myself some grace because I need extensive work to hold my opinions and share them more peaceably.
I've got many opinions about many things, and I am typically convinced they are correct and steadfast. And generally speaking, I'm not shy about expressing my certitude regarding my opinions, even going so far as to express them with a fair amount of forcefulness at times.
In other words, I am known to frequently offer up a rant or two about issues that I'm fired up about, a fact that my family can attest to.
I'm also aware that when these rants occur, they tend to vacate the room, roll their eyes, or say helpful things like, "Here we go..." as they do one or both of those things.
To be fair, some of my rants are funny, but when things turn south, my tightly held opinions come rushing out with the same forceful energy I'm holding them.
Pema Chodron, the late great Buddhist thinker, author, and teacher, once wrote:
When we hold on to our opinions with aggression, no matter how valid our cause, we are simply adding more aggression to the planet, and violence and pain increase. Cultivating non-aggression is cultivating peace.
What I'm beginning to understand more fully as I ponder Chodron's words is that negativity and aggression when it comes to our opinions, begin within us first and foremost.
This might sound like an obvious point, but it isn't. We tend to think that if we keep our negative thoughts to ourselves, we're doing well.
But when we hold our opinions aggressively, that energy never stays bottled up. At some point, it either comes out in a rush, or we begin to experience the toll on our mind, body, and spirit, which affects how we move and live in the world.
The Apostle Paul once wrote in Romans 12:18:
It is at all possible, live at peace with everyone.
I'm beginning to believe that "everyone" includes "ourselves." It's not enough to be peaceable with others; we also have to find peace within our own hearts.
May we find the strength to live at peace with ourselves and others. May we hold our opinions more loosely and be willing to let the Spirit form and shape them as the Spirit wills. May we let our peace go out into the world and return to us in joy.
And may the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with us all now and forever. Amen.