Seek and Pursue Peace
Would you say your home is a peaceful place? Or is it often chaotic and full of stress? How about your life? Would you say you have a fairly peaceful life, or it is full of angst and worry? How about your relationships with your husband, each of your children, your extended family, your friends? Would you say most of your key relationships are peaceful, or are they volatile, ready to spin out of control at any given moment? A few years ago, I was reading my Bible and I came across the command to “seek and pursue peace.” I thought, ‘How interesting!’ I’m not sure it had ever occurred to me to actually pursue peace. The two words seemed at odds.
‘Pursue’ seemed so aggressive, and ‘peace’ seemed so passive. I’d just never put the two together, but if the Bible did, there must be something to it. That led me to do some soul searching. Would I say I was at peace most of the time? I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t really thought about it that much before. So, I decided to pay attention, kind of ‘watch myself’, like I was a bystander looking on, seeing how much peace was present in an average day.
Pursuing peace is something you choose to do.
Do you know what I found out? I was not as peaceful as I thought. Oh, I’m not a person to fly off the handle and lose my temper and shout. I’m more of a silent simmerer. I seemed to have a certain number of times I could overlook an annoyance, squelch a worry, silence an angry retort, repress a critical comment, or hold back a sharp response. Then, poof! Peace was gone. Sometimes I made it nearly all day, and other times I didn’t make it past breakfast.
Do you ever feel like possibly every bit of the Bible was meant just for you? I do. Well, this pursue peace thing was something I needed to read. It was something I needed to DO. I liked that. Most homeschool moms are ‘doers’, people of action. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart; it is for the doers; it takes action. If the Bible said peace could and should be pursued, then I could do it. I came to realize, pursuing peace is something you choose to do.
Stop Talking. Start Praying.
When I started to pursue peace, I found it much better to stop talking and start praying. Prayer is calming, and it reminds us we are not in this alone. If you see something is going to rock your boat and steal your peace, pray.
When I am upset, distancing myself from the person or the situation for a moment (or sometimes for an hour or more), gives me clarity. Sometimes I can physically go somewhere else (i.e. my bedroom, the bathroom, outside), and sometimes I can mentally go somewhere else (i.e. think about something different, concentrate on something positive, tell myself I’ll deal with it later when I’m calmer).
Talking is often the undoing of peace. When you start to ‘simmer,’ the less you say the better – at least that is what I’ve found. Keep in mind I am not talking about giving someone ‘the silent treatment.’ Rather, I am talking about distancing myself, physically or mentally, so I don’t say something I wish I hadn’t that I’ll be praying for forgiveness for the next morning.
I’m Responsible for Me
I’ll admit when I first began to try to pursue peace, I kind of felt like it wasn’t fair. I mean, if everyone else wasn’t pursuing peace, why should I? But then, I found another Bible verse that said “seek peace and pursue it“. Hmmm. Okay, Lord, back to that again. The truth is, in the end, I’m responsible for me. My actions, my words, my thoughts – those I am responsible for and those I can control. Turns out this pursuing peace thing is kind of powerful!
Pursuing peace can become a habit.
People are not easy. Sometimes they are hard to love. They can say and do things that hurt, that seem unfair. But then again, no one is perfect – including ourselves. Pursuing peace can become a habit, like anything else. Just think if we all pursued peace?!? So much strife could be avoided.
Is your son screaming? Pray with him. Hold him and hug him if you can, and if you can’t send him to time out for a few minutes and take a time out yourself. Then, pray again. Begin again. Is your spouse doing something annoying? Let it go. Hold your tongue. You probably are annoying sometimes too. Is your mother-in-law overly critical? Change the subject – pursue peace – she probably just misses her son or longs for the days of old when she had her own family at home to care for.
Are you really upset about something? Pray about it. Ask for God’s wisdom for how to handle it. But in everything, pursue peace. Jesus, our precious Lord and Savior, pursued peace even as His death was near. God, our Father, sent the Holy Spirit to be with us. That very Holy Spirit lives in us and makes it possible for us to pursue peace in the most difficult of situations.
My Peace I Give to You
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”
A Challenge to Pursue Peace
So, I challenge you – pursue peace! Pursue it right along with me because it is an every day thing. Become a bystander, watch yourself, take note of how you are doing with pursuing peace. Then be a doer, take action, choose to pursue peace. Stop talking – start praying; you’ll have less to apologize for and less to ask for forgiveness for the next day. Remember, you are only responsible for you. If others around you aren’t pursuing peace, they will have to answer for that themselves. (Unless they are your children, which in that case, you will firmly, calmly, HELP them pursue peace.)
Make pursuing peace a habit and when you think you can’t do it, remember Jesus did it as He was ready to die for you, and God sent the Holy Spirit to help you. Peaceful people are happier people. Peaceful homes are happier places. And peaceful marriages are happier relationships. You got this!