One thing is for sure: these weeks of staying at home and social distancing have taught me many things. First, I like dessert too much. And second, I learned a whole new way I’m not in control. And, surprise! I’ve never been in control.
In the first few weeks of staying at home all…the…time, I was a roller coaster of emotions. I was sad, then I was joyful, then depressed, and then just blah. I honestly feel bad for my kids. They never knew which mom they were going to have on a given day.
But in a Zoom small group meeting, my perspective shifted. One of my friends share an analogy that really helped me. It went something like this: “Imagine you are struggling in the sea. It’s wavy and your are struggling to stay afloat. What is the best and easiest way to float? It is to lay back and lay still. It is to allow yourself to be moved with waves while floating calmly on top. When we try to swim and work against the waves, we get tired and can’t help ourselves anymore.”
Don’t you just love wise friends?
I realized that my grumpiness was not do to my circumstances but on my reluctance to just “float along.” I was struggling against the storm I found myself in, and I was drowning. There was no peace in my heart. There was only tension and irritation.
The message God was sending me was driven home even more by I song we sang in online church. I love music, and God often speaks to me through it. The song we sang was “It is Well” by Bethel Music. I have heard and sang the song probably 40 times, but this time, a particular line jumped out at me. On the bridge of the song, the line is: “So let go, my soul, and trust in Him. The waves as wind still know His name.” (Click here to listen to that song!)
So let go.
I had been creating tension and a lack of joy in my life because I refused to let go. I can’t even really say what I was holding on to. The anger and grief over broken plans? The annoyance of having to home-school my 3 kids? The fact that I was not in control to begin with?
When I realized this and decided to actually let go of my “control,” I was able to grab onto the peace of God. My heart was open to receive and accept His truth.
So much about experiencing peace comes from surrendering our control.
Jesus gives us His peace. It’s a gift. Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid,” (John 14:27).
We always have His peace, but we don’t always experience it. I ran across a quote from author Annie F. Downs the other day, and goes right along with what God’s been teaching me. She wrote, “Peace in God is a choice we make again and again–something we choose to grab onto and wrap ourselves in.”
So we must let go and grab peace and wrap up in it. I just love the mental picture that gives me. I have a favorite blanket that I use when I watch TV at night. It is super furry and soft. I could wrap up in it and hibernate for awhile, if I had the chance.
Wrapping up in God’s peace is not so different. We can access the peace Jesus gives us by reading the Word of God. The Bible is full of promises and words of love that lead us into a peaceful frame of mind. When we train our minds to dwell on God’s word, our brains have less time to think about fear and worry.
Praising God is another way to wrap up in peace. When we lift up our praise, we are ushered into the throne room of God. And God exists in peace. He is peace.
Praying also takes our minds and our hearts to peace. I love these verses from Philippians 4. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus,” (6-7, NLT).
See? When we pray and offer gratitude to God, we experience God’s peace–His transcendent, unexplainable, far about any circumstance, peace.
So my plan for the rest of the pandemic…and the rest of my life? Surrender control and wrap up in peace. Oh yeah…and bake less cookies.