Actual Cliff in Plymouth, MA where I grew up
I love the wind. Stillness is irritating to me. The wind feels calming, as if something powerful is happening - advancement, even while I am being still. Refreshing, assuring. Things are being moved, changed. The wind feels like freedom to me. As a little girl, I struggled with anger and fear, but the power of the wind always made me feel safe. As if something much more powerful than the circumstances in my home was really in control. It comforted me to feel a greater power was looking out for me. I would stand on a cliff high above the sea and watch storms roll in. Trees bending and bowing around me, waves crashing way below. I would stand one foot in front of the other bracing my balance, head forward leaning into the wind. I felt strong, powerful, brave. The peace of that seems ironic. I didn’t know then, God stood with me.
Last week, I found myself in a frenzy. My prayers were more like a chapter in lamentations and I completely fell from being anywhere seated with or near Jesus. I was disappointed, discouraged and worn out, feeling like I was the mole in the game of whack-a-mole. I had completely lost my SH-alom!
In this current environment, it’s not hard to do. I had enough sense to stop the babbling and with my face to my prayer mat, exclaim to Him “what happened!?” Except with more of an accusatory “well-where-are-you” tone. His response:
“You just lost your peace”.
Together we traced the steps backward through the chaos as one would if you were trying to recall where you left your keys. Together we began to pinpoint where my child-of-god crown slipped from its place and where I lost the keys to the kingdom.
It started with a few segments from the news, then my son getting very sick and tested for Covid, concerns regarding my youngest son’s safety heading off to college soon, some needed home repairs, multiple jewelry shows getting cancelled (my livelihood), more news and blah blah blah. As a single mom, to be honest, there is never a shortage of content to build a case that you’re alone. Which of course, is not the truth! But when you are decorating for a pity-party, or a fear-party or a what-if party, this seems to be the first banner I hang. I feel alone!
With what we are all facing in the world today, and I’m sure you have your own list, it’s not hard to lose your peace. I find it interesting that God’s response to any of my lamentations over the years is always lovingly pointing out how I lost my focus, took my eyes off of Him somehow. Not once, have I ever uncovered a place where there was a breach of contract between us…. well, on His end.
He has never failed me. And again this time, He Hadn’t changed, hadn’t moved. Simply, lovingly, he pointed out “You lost your peace.”
He never left, He hadn’t abandoned me, didn’t give up or even leave the party. In fact, He’s the first attendee to every pity-party, fear-party or what-if party, waiting patiently for me to tire out, take my ragged party dress off and put on my royal robe again, taking my rightful place as His beloved, well-cared for daughter.
I decided to press a bit further. Generally, it comes down to asking myself: “Do I believe God is the alpha and the omega? Do I believe He is same yesterday, today and forever? Do I really?” I believe I do, so I sought His clarification. I felt Him nudging me forward with this:
“You must practice peace.”
Hmmm- I had to practice. I had to guard my peace. I know that verse!
“Let the peace of God guard your heart.” Phil 4:7
Together as we traced the steps backward I could begin to recognize when I felt the chaos coming in, the confusion, feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, alone… when I felt fear coming in. When that inner-frenzy rises building into chaos. When I lose being in His presence. When multi-tasking kills being present. When the outer world over-takes the inner world and His presence is overshadowed by the perceived ‘bigness’ of the issues around me.
Maybe you’re thinking “duh” but for me, I realized God had pointed out something that I have struggled with for years. It was so familiar to me, it seemed normal. In fact, it seemed necessary to run a business, a household and parent two young men. But, I hadn’t been fully present in years. Living in the moment seemed elusive to me, luxurious, and came in rare moments.
I gave it pretty words like responsible, productive and successful. But it was really striving, frenzied and fearful.
Over the next week, I began practicing recognizing the MOMENT it happens. The moment I switch back over to my old way. It’s a practice. Sometimes I would catch it quickly, other times, I was pretty miserable for hours. You’d think being miserable would be a big clue, but familiar is comfortable I guess. He was instructing me in realizing when I switched from one faucet to another.
My neighbors have a weird hose. It’s a dual-spicket. Last week, they had asked me to water their flower beds while they were gone on vacation. I had to choose which spicket or which hose I wanted water from. Standing on their lawn, staring, I thought Why? I stood there staring at this thing like it was the most profound sight. I can only imagine what I must have looked like to any peering neighbors standing there as I stared at this hose in wonder for several minutes. God was unfolding a lesson.
There are two spickets (in general) we can choose to drink from. #1 God’s hose or #2 The world's. It can be the news, media or any counterfeit source of nourishment in our lives. Those things you drink from but are still thirsty. (Woman at the well.) Any place we find counterfeit Provision, Identity, Significance, Intimacy, or a million other things. For the sake of keeping this current, we will say the second hose represents the news and media. Right now, well in general, there is a constant inflow of bad news making it easy to take our eyes off of Him and lose our peace. So it is our choice to unhook from the hose of fear and foreboding and hook back into God’s truth, guarding the flow between the two.
Back to God I go. Ok, God HOW do I balance this, HOW do I keep my peace?
“If your input from media is greater than your input from God, your discouragement is self-inflicted.” Bill Johnson
It's what we focus on... The waves or Jesus. After Philippians 4:7 tells us to guard our peace, it tells us HOW:
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think on these things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.…
There it is again! “Put it into practice!” Why do I still get so blown away when God proves himself true to me?
Don’t you just love when He teaches us patiently about His own character? - and then when we finally get it and have this ah-hah moment, it’s blows us away! Like when they discovered the earth was round. It seemed so trendy and new - Yet, it always was!
Soooo, can you guess the new 2020 Gracelet?
In January, I started to play around with the idea of the new Peace Gracelet!! As you know, I design many new pieces a year, but only one bracelet. Each one has been a journey in my life. And the main ingredients are always scripture, then colors and a theme finds it’s way. God knew we would need to guard our peace long before 2020 started 2020-ing! Since January, I have been collecting and researching scripture and sourcing beautiful gems, pearls and crystals to represent each scripture, and He always makes sure I have a good lesson on a topic before I think I can go out and share! Here is a little collage-painting from when I started thinking about this back in January.
I think 'Peace' is the perfect Gracelet for 2020! How about you?
Thanks for reading and listening.
I would love your thoughts/comments... and feel free to share your own tips and stories about maintaining your peace.