Regardless of how your Monday is going, here’s something to uplift your day: As I read through my devotional Scripture, I came across a simple statement with profound implications for how we live daily life: “For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.” (Psalm 122:8).” The psalmist, King David, was writing from the cultural context of pilgrimage to Jerusalem; however, there is a relevant word for our journey this day as we pursue peace. Although my Union Baptist Church tradition features general forms of welcoming, my experiences in Catholic and United Methodist traditions have engaged me in the specific practice of the “passing of the peace.” In these traditions, we greet each other during worship with the common phrase, “Peace be with you,” and the usual response, “And also with you.” This practice often builds kindness and connection. To wish someone peace within, however, is another thing altogether. The work is harder, but the payoff is incredible! If we could secure internal peace, it would certainly help us to put many other things going on around us into proper perspective.
For example, have you ever found yourself fully aware of a million things you need to do—for work, for school, for your family, for your home, for your church, for yourself—but you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to start? Your initial uneasiness and anxiety, your awareness that more and more time is passing without much (or any) productivity, and your panic about the imminent consequences of your tasks not getting done all culminate in debilitating paralysis. Some call this pattern “paralysis of analysis” because the more we think through the tasks, the more paralyzed we feel. This string of events is bad enough to experience once, but most of us have experienced this in a frustrating cycle. Sometimes we even create a catastrophe with our thoughts, which can leave us in a state of panic.
Rather than remaining in panic, God’s word offers us a powerful alternative:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:6-8).”
Yes, God intends for us to have peace within, peace that is achieved as we share our concerns with God, and as we focus our minds on the things that are excellent and praiseworthy. It’s true, though, that some things are easier said than done, so my next blog will focus on some particular strategies you can use to minimize the anxiety in your life and to maximize peace–not just the peace around you, but the peace within.
In the meantime, enjoy your day!
À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”),