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April 12, 2017

Cultivating Peace

It was the summer of 2012.

I had just returned to my home in Mongolia after a miserable nine months of living in the States. It had been the biggest move of my life, and I was ANYTHING but prepared for the stifling heat and humidity of Florida! My favorite spot was in front of the freezer in my host family’s kitchen, where I would open the door and breathe in the cold air for as many seconds as I could get away with it! But the climate wasn’t the only shock of my new home. From the minute I arrived in America I was overwhelmed by the pace of life. High speed traffic, endless choices in the super market, hundreds of television channels, snappy fast food lines, and a never-ending demand for bigger, better, faster, and MORE of EVERYTHING. I was bewildered.

My summer vacation to Mongolia sparkled like a bright light at the end of the tunnel. I was going to see my family and try to regain some of the sanity I had lost in my post-highschool move to the States. I arrived after 30+ hours of travel, collapsed onto my old bed, and fell asleep to the familiar smells of home. The next morning I woke up with my heart racing. What was on my schedule? What had to get done today? Where is my to-do list? What did I miss? Disoriented and stuck in my new pattern of hitting the ground running, I slowly remembered where I was and that even if I wanted to have a busy day, I couldn’t because there was nothing to do! I sighed as though breathing for the first time in nine months, and then went back to sleep.

The Lie You’ve Been Told

We live in a culture that glorifies BUSY lives and IMMEDIATE results. Somehow success has become synonymous with a packed schedule and not letting a single minute of our time go to waste. Even when peace and relaxation are being promoted, we are taught to spend our time on hours of mind-numbing entertainment! After all, there is nothing worse in our culture than being BORED. Every minute must be filled with some kind of activity or you are not being productive. This is the lie we have been told, and I am JUST as guilty of buying into it.

Cultivating Peace

Not all of us have the opportunity to summer vacation in Mongolia (though you definitely should try it sometime! 😉 ), but we ALL have the ability to make a choice. On one hand we have our culture, urging us to live fast-paced lives and to fill in the cracks with sports and soap operas. But on the other, we have an opportunity for something better. A life of peace is marked by deeper contentment, greater self-control, more patience when things don’t go your way, and a sweeter enjoyment of the little things in life. If that sounds good to you, then here are just a few humble tips for you AND me to try and implement:

1. It’s ok to not be friends with everyone

Let’s face it, we all wish we could be that one person who is friends with everyone, but there is a lot of SOCIAL peace LOST when we live like this! Should we be FRIENDLY to all people? Of course! But how can we expect to genuinely know and love the people we DO have in our lives when we are trying to keep up with the demands of dozens of acquaintances? I’m telling you right now, it is ok to not know everyone! Trust that the Lord will bring the right people into your life. Give thanks for the friends that you DO have and start investing in knowing them more deeply. This will bring PEACE to your relationships.

2. TV binging isn’t helping you

Let’s get one thing straight, I am a huge fan of Netflix! I LOVE popping on an episode of The Great British Baking Show or the newest addition of Gilmore Girls! However, I am ALSO guilty of this harmful thing called binge watching. I’ll be honest with you, binging out on TV is a waste of your time and mine. Just like eating a delicious dessert, consuming too much Television at one time will make you SICK.  And when the dessert itself has gone bad, (aka, TV shows with unbridled and filthy content) you are going to end up puking all kinds of nasty stuff. Just like with every entertainment and fundamentally “good” thing, TV should be watched PURPOSEFULLY! You should be able to savor Television when the time is right, instead of sinking deeper into the “show hole” from countless hours a week spent on the couch. It is time to take the reigns of TV in your life and allow it to be a source of LIFE instead of an ADDICTION that you need to feed. Peace WILL be a result of this choice.

3. It’s ok to be bored.

So what DO we do in our down time? Of course you can always take up the classics like reading, scrapbooking, taking a walk, or calling up an old friend. But no matter what you decide to do, don’t be afraid to be BORED. We live in a culture that is terrified of silence! And yet, when was the last time you sat in quiet and THOUGHT about ANYTHING for longer than two minutes? We often complain about time passing too fast, and a simple remedy for this is to let ourselves be bored every once in a while. Nothing fosters creativity like some healthy boredom! And how can we expect to change others or ourselves when we are afraid of silent reflection?

4. You can’t find peace by yourself

I know I just wrote a whole blog about cultivating peace, but the good news is that you simply can’t do it on your own. How is this good news? Because it means that you don’t have to rely on your own strength! This is where I’m going to be oh so real with you. TRUE peace cannot be found if your life has no meaning. Sure, there may be enough distraction for you to forget what you lack, but you will never know true, undiluted PEACE. Turn to the One who created you AND created peace. Ask HIM for help to cultivate a life of peace, and lean on HIM when making the daily decision to say NO to the world. This is where our peace starts and ends!

Here’s to a new start

Being busy isn’t bad. The reality is that there are certain jobs out there that require a fuller schedule! And my respect is deep for those who serve others in this way. But no matter who you are or what you do, there is ALWAYS room for change! Start saying NO to the demands of our culture for bigger, better, and faster! Start saying YES to deeper friendships, purposeful entertainment, quiet moments and faith in your Maker. Lay down your time at the foot of the CROSS and trust that your Father wants you to have peace JUST as much as you do. Here is to a new start, a new hope, and a new PEACE.

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