I've thought a lot about peace lately. I have felt such lack of peace in my heart and in my house. As the head of my household, I have a huge responsibility to maintain peace. It starts with me and it ends with me! If, in my heart, I don't have peace then my actions do not project it. This starts the cycle - I yell at the kids who yell at each other and then it begins again! I miss the quietness in my heart! It is missing because I've grown lazy in my prayer life. I've neglected the one relationship that brings me love, peace, happiness, joy, blessings, etc. I've neglected God! I don't know why it continues to surprise me that when I put God first in my life then everything else falls in line. That, of course, doesn't mean there is no drama or hardship, but God's presence is abundantly clear when we need Him most. My goodness, I sure need Him!
It's been hard to "find" him because my mind and my heart have been clouded with worldly thoughts of Christmas presents, homework issues, sports drama, family issues, and more. There is a way to have peace while also dealing with the every day life. It is not by putting God on the back burner - that hasn't worked so well yet! It's by putting Him front and center right in the hottest part of the flame! He is my buffer, He is my saving Grace and why don't I have Him front and center? It is much easier to just complain that life is hard and that I'm tired all of the time instead of finding a way to rejoice in these challenges and rising above them with His help.
"This peace comes through fidelity to grace, fidelity to confidence. It gives sweetness to your intimacy with Jesus. To lose confidence is to draw back from His arms, and at the same time it is to lose peace" (p.136 in I Believe in Love) Also from this book is this fabulous paragraph (it's long but so rich and worth it);
"The fruit of this peace is supernatural calm. The Devil fishes in troubled waters. Whoever lets himself be troubled does not see clearly anymore, stumbles, falls into a panic, and ceases to judge rightly. We can be very shaken, very upset, as long as it is only on the surface, but the depths of our soul must remain tranquil as the depths of the ocean, even during the greatest storms...Weep in bereavement or misfortune, but weep in peace." (also p. 136 in I Believe in Love)
I love the line about the Devil fishing in troubled waters. It doesn't imply that we won't have troubled waters or misfortune but that we have a choice to not become troubled we don't have to "let ourselves" become troubled while in the moment! We must hold on to peace and tranquility! We must remain faithful with full fidelity to our relationship with Christ Jesus!
I have told people that the most peaceful time of my life were the times that I experienced the greatest sadness. When I placed my baby for adoption 18 years ago, I can't explain to you the sadness that I felt! To get in the car and drive away from a child that had grown in my womb for 9+ months was excruciating! It was also peaceful. The pain that I felt was tied with the peace that I received (I was gifted this) in choosing this path for my life. I made these choices with God in my heart and with God on my lips and with God in my thoughts. The times that I have gone wrong have been the times that God wasn't a part of the process. When I brought Him back in (not that He ever left) my decisions were made peacefully not easily but peacefully.
Another time was when Bill died. The suddenness of it all was more than I thought that I could handle. However, I turned to my faithful family, my faithful friends, and my faithful clergy to help keep it all focused on God. It is hard to describe to anyone how I could physically feel the loving arms of Christ around my shoulders. Not in a figurative way but in a literal way! At times, I felt myself turn around expecting to see someone there only to see no one. The peace was tangible. It was as if I was on auto-pilot. I know that part of this was the grieving process but the other, more significant part, was that I felt lifted up by God Himself during this tragedy.
I miss that feeling! I mourn for that reassurance! It seems like so much "work" now to pray, to attend Mass, to acknowledge God each day. It is my cross right now! I am pushing through this dryness in hopes and in peaceful reassurance that it will only make me stronger and make my joy that much greater! The advice that is given to me is that I should lay these struggles at the foot of the cross and let Jesus take them from me! This is so hard for me because I feel as though He has taken so much from me and that it was my sins that got Him nailed up there in the first place. It's difficult for me to truly "give it to God" but I know when I do, peace will come!