Before 2019 got away from me too much (funny how time just moves on whether we are ready or not), I wanted to talk about peace. Peace was my word for 2018.
(“Let the Peace of Christ Rule” Tea Towel)
Peace has been on my mind quite a bit the last few years. I think it is a reflection of getting older, and wanting to get along with people and have a drama-free life, if at all possible, but also recognizing that sometimes there are people you must move away from in order to have that kind of life.
As it relates to my faith, peace has been something I’ve been pondering for years. Peace, the only kind of peace we can have, comes from God. When Jesus came to earth, he gave us the example to follow. I fear too often, we do not follow it. This is something I pray about often. Because I know every person is different and difficult people are people God loves as much as any other person. I know that at times, we are all, perhaps, unloveable.
But I also know that there are times when I feel like I am bashing my head against a difficult relationship in hopes to make it peaceful. I try to do what the other person wants, I adjust my expections and bend to their whims, and even in these times, cannot find peace.
So this year, where I focused on peace again and again (as you tend to do when you have a word of the year practice) I found two scenarios play out strongly in my life: peaceful reunions for some relationships and finite ends for others.
For the first part of the year, I felt like a failure for “not being able” to make certain relationships “work.” Too often, I will accept things as they are, which isn’t a bad philosophy sometimes, but for other times it can be very hurtful. While you must love everyone as God does, it does not mean you can have a relationship with everyone. This point was brought home again and again this year as some relationships proved too painful to continue.
I wondered, during these times, if I had chosen my word incorrectly. This is the thing with a word of the year practice, you chose a word that comes to you for whatever reason. I pray about my word and really try to go back to it during the year. I’m someone that gravitates toward words in general, so choosing a mantra that can help me in my relationship with God (which is ultimately my lifelong goal) has been a good practice for me. And in the case of “peace,” this year, it has sent me to deeper prayer.
So, some relationships ended, which is sad and not something I take lightly. I made the hard decision to move on, I grieved them, and as we start this new year I am ready to look forward. But other relationships, especially ones that had been difficult or confusing, improved. More than that, they blossomed. Some relationships that I had prayed about for years I found myself thanking God for this past year.
Peace! At last!
When I look at the past year, this dichotomy shows clearly. And perhaps that is the biggest lesson for me, that sometimes we need to let things go (and give them to God) and then focus on things that are within our reach. God can handle the rest. He can mend the relationships that we will not mend, no matter how many times we try and change ourselves to fit what the other person wants. He can heal our hearts and minds and bring us together again in ways we cannot do alone.
God has been active in my life and this word of “peace” has helped me focus on that. It has been difficult to let some things go (relationships in particular) but I have learned that I cannot fix things myself and have to let God handle them. And He does! I have seen this, too.