Where would we go to find peace? Perhaps some would say the countryside, a gym session, hiking to the top of a mountain, playing a sport, watching television after a long day, going for a swim in the early hours of the morning, listening to music.
Whatever situation you are in as you are reading this, I invite you to take a few minutes and try this exercise.
Take yourself to whatever comes to your mind as we are mentioning ‘peace’.
Imagine what you would be seeing, hearing, tasting. Maybe the orange shades of sunrise, the waves crashing against the shore, the machines of a gym, the sticks crushed under your footsteps, the smell of fresh grass after an autumn rain, the salt of the sea.
Feel what you would be feeling there.
Close your eyes for a minute and become the person you would be at this very moment if you were to transport yourself to this peaceful scenario you are envisioning yourself in.
Now place yourself back into reality.
How far are you from achieving those same feelings without having to take yourself to that place and instead experiencing them from where you are right here, right now? What do you need to change in your life to be able to get there easily and whenever you need to?
What you experienced here is ‘serenity’ and ‘calmness’. This is a feeling that is created out of the decisions we make in our life and the practices that we adopt to prioritize better. This feeling is dependent on what is surrounding you, external factors within our life that may promise ‘peace’ but are not cultivating the ‘peace’ that we all inwardly desire. This feeling that we are talking about is in fact not ‘peace’, or at least not the peace that we all inwardly desire. What we are talking about here is ‘serenity’ or ‘calmness’. We could be going about our days, doing everything that brings calmness into our life and still be restless or lack peace. Taking a decision to evaluate one’s life and eliminate habits, situations, people, and other factors that could be contributing to this lack of calmness, is a step in the right direction.
But why not take it a step further this Advent?
Jesus promises us that He can give us not only rest but also a ‘peace’ that goes beyond understanding. When we prioritize spending time with God and being in His presence, we cannot help but come to Him with all the baggage that we are carrying within our hearts and the weight that just loves to remain on our shoulders. But we are invited to come with an open heart and give Him the burdens of the world so that we will find peace. How can we do this in practice? Coming with an open heart in order to experience peace means to be sincere with God, with the people around us, and with ourselves. We can have an open heart when, instead of distorting or avoiding the truth of our reality, we become sincere in all that we do, all we are feeling, all we desire, and all we have done.
Being open to receiving peace does not mean that we will not have any problems to solve, or we’ll be given a golden ticket to avoid the struggles that we face every day. Instead, Jesus offers us peace that allows us to live through these moments as if we are being carried through them by a Father with unrelentless and sacrificial love. He is willing to hold us as we battle through the chaos of life.
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” John 14:27
The peace that Jesus brings into our life lifts us high above the storms within our heart and surrounding us, giving us a wider picture of what is happening and trusting that He knows what is going on. The trust we can have in Jesus is what allows us to fully accept the peace that He so willingly wants to bless us with. Trusting Jesus is not easy and takes courage, especially when everything seems to be going wrong, but we know that He keeps His promises so that even when we cannot see clearly, we can believe that He is carrying us through to safety because He loves us. And it is this assurance that makes it possible for us to accept the peace that He is so willing to give to us.
We can go through the worst struggles and the most difficult of situations, and still feel a deep sense of peace knowing that we are held by the Creator who is bigger than our problems here.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you would enter in our difficulties and worries of life and fill us with your peace, just as you did when the Apostles were gathered in fear and confusion. (John 20:19)
Holy Spirit, give me the will to be sincere, open my heart to you and receive your peace.
Written by Sarah Zammit Munro & Evan Demicoli