When Peace Eludes Us
This past month, I had a peculiar feeling during my vacation and study leave that I couldn't shake for over a week or more. It pervaded most moments when I was supposed to relax, read, write, and chill.
It was the feeling that I needed to be doing something productive even though I was trying to give my mind, body, and soul a rest.
As soon as I relaxed or felt peaceful, I began to feel a combination of uneasiness and guilt that wouldn't go away quickly.
It's not like I wasn't busy doing things, mind you. I had daily chores, errands to run, places to take my son, books I was trying to read, and chapters in my new book I was working to outline.
But it took me a good while before I started to give myself a break.
I'm not good at sitting still. Even when I'm supposed to relax, I generally find something to do or some way to keep myself occupied.
Sitting still for a time and watching the ocean, or the ripples on a lake, or even gazing out over the vista of a forest might seem like a good idea for most people, but for me, it can be trying.
But I've discovered something that is helping.
I never really knew how to think about that feeling of uneasiness until a few weeks ago when I attended a retreat with author Rob Bell. One of the things that he said during the retreat resonated with me profoundly:
"When there's peace---your guard is up because you think it will fall apart at any moment."
Rob said this when he spoke with a woman who was sharing how she struggled to trust any feelings of peace that she felt because of the trauma and uncertainty of her past.
He related that many of us feel like this. We're afraid to let our guard down and simply be still to feel peace because we worry about what might happen if we do.
We worry that the peace we are feeling will end. We worry that we only feel peace because we're not being productive, which steals our peace. We worry that whatever peace we are feeling might not be real. We worry that if we stop moving and be still, we might have to confront things we've been avoiding.
And so our guard is up, and peace eludes us.
This is not how we are meant to live. The God of peace wants more for us than this. God desires us to be humans "being" much more than humans "doing."
Real peace only comes to us when we let our guard down and allow the peace within us to emanate from our most authentic selves- the selves God created us to be.
When we let go of our worries and allow ourselves to trust in this peace, we can soon discover who we are and who we have been all along. May this be so for you and for me and for all of us.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.