Peace. Peace must have been pretty important to Jesus because before He left this planet He decided to bequeath it to us. John 14:27. (Bequeath is just a pretty fancy way of saying He willed it to us, as it is His will and desire for us to have it.)
During this time of year, I’m very interested in finding that sense of peace in the middle of all the Christmas responsibilities I have. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, baking, decorating, shipping, card making, visiting and celebrating, etc. (Frankly, that is a lot of i-n-g words in one sentence, which add up in total to a lot of work-i-n-g!) Sadly far too many years by New Year’s Day I have been known to succumb to exhaustion, meltdowns or even illness. My ho-ho-ho turns into no-no-no and the last thing I feel is surrounded by the peace that Christ died to give me. Instead I trade peace, for tired, irritable & overwhelmed. Does this sound familiar ladies? Can I get a witness?
Have you ever considered that our common enemy also celebrates Christmas? During my study on peace that thought occured to me and frankly it made me down right angry. Now, I don’t think the devil sits around a nativity scene playing Christmas Carols and praising our baby Jesus. But since his main goal is to steal whatever Jesus means for us to have, he does a pretty good job of replacing our peace with all manners of peace stealers instead! (The main one being busyness with all the wonderful things I mentioned above.) I imagine him ugly and red horned, frolocking around with tinsel and lights, laughing hysterically at my tired face and anticipating what is sure to be a meltdown taken out on my poor unsuspecting (and mostly innocent) husband. He waits patiently, like watching a movie he has seen 1000 times, he knows how this plot ends! (I hate that I’m so entertaining and predictable to him, I should just go ahead and pop him some popcorn for the show.)
So, how do I get like this when I surely know better! I know what the “reason for the season is!” How do I get so wrapped up in all the who-ville hoopla and end up on the carousel of craziness that Christmas can become? Well, the answer is simple, somewhere in the middle of all of my good intentions, I lose my peace.
As a believer in Christ I know I have peace, I just misplace it from time to time. Perhaps I leave it under a pile of bills, or under the unrealistic requests of my time people make or on the floor at the line of the grocery store. Or it is hidden under the bags of my eyes from lack of sleep and pushing myself too hard, or under the expectation of perfection that I try so hard to live up to, or under a string of Christmas lights that half work and half don’t! (Yep, that is probably where it is!) Wherever my peace seems to be hiding, like an intense game of hide and go seek, it always finds a good spot and becomes trickier each time I have to go find it! But living without peace is really not living in the Will of God, so find it I must, and so must you.
To paraphrase Joyce Meyers, “hearing from God is not all that difficult. If an item on your to-do list brings you peace, it’s in! If it steals your peace, it’s out! Hearing from God is not about voices, it’s mainly about inner peace and wisdom and the inner witness.” When I check my motivations about doing something, and keep them in balance with loving God, loving myself and loving others, I usually can find peace in the outcome of whether I take on that commitment or not. It’s not the opinions of others that matter, it is the opinion of my Father who loves me and knows my heart. When I pursue Him and what He thinks, peace always follows.
I also have learned to throw perfectionism out the door, and say hello to good enough! Hunting down that perfect gift at the perfect price while decorating the house perfectly while looking perfect and baking the perfect Christmas cookie, is well, perfectly crazy! And a perfect way to lose my peace.
Another and perhaps most important way to combat the enemy, is by spending time with my Father, who is the source of all peace and is the only way to really find and keep my own. Philippians 4:6-8 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Being mindful to have a greatful heart for the house I have to decorate, the family I have to cook and bake for, the friends I have to shop for and visit, and all the ways God blesses me, are what will help me find my peace when it gets lost. Spending time with Him always calms whatever storm I’m facing, and it is that time that usually is the first thing to go when I get busy. (Que the visual of the devil, laughing at that!)
But this year I am determined to guard that time with all my heart, if I don’t have time for God, then my to-do list is out of balance, and a quick way to send me on a game of hide and seek for my peace! If that to-do list is too long, the answer then is to cut out the things that I don’t have peace about to make room for what I believe to be in balance with God’s will.
Lastly, and this is for my mommy friends, a hard lesson that I’ve learned is that my kids would happly trade any perfectly wrapped gift, or decorated cookie or whatever contrived Christmas experience I have come up with, for a happy mom instead. One who laughs and plays and snuggles with them on Christmas morning, without being rushed, tired, overwhelmed and undone. In other words, peaceful mom beats stressful mom any day of the week, but twice on Christmas morning!
So this year I will commit to giving up other people’s opinions, the trap of perfectionism and the plague of busyness in exchange for the peace that Christ left me in His Will. I will hold onto it with both ribbon wrapped hands, and know exactly where to go looking for it should it become temporarily misplaced. And I beg all my friends, mommy and otherwise to join me in doing the same! It’s time to hit stop on the devil’s DVR movie version of our life, make him put down the popcorn and give him a major plot twist! Tell him to put on It’s a Wonderful Life instead, maybe he’ll learn something!