My Word of the Year

I am not one to make New Year's resolutions, but in recent years I have chosen a word of the year.  This word is a way to focus my thoughts and actions and guide my behavior for the year ahead.  I don't like to pick a word just because it is January 1st, I prefer to let the word find me. As it turns out, the word was close to me the whole time! A necklace I bought a few months ago led me to my word.
The word is peace.

This would not be the first time that I have focused on peace. I have spent a great part of my life searching for peace in different ways. It has often been the focus of my thoughts and the desire of my prayers. It can be elusive at certain times and as close and comforting as a warm blanket at others. But in an increasingly loud and fractured world, it is what I most crave.  Peace from the chaos, peace from the arguing and disagreement that takes place in nearly every public forum, peace from the bitter divide that exists in our country, peace in the near and far reaches of the world, peace in my family, peace in my heart, and most importantly peace in my soul. Without peace in my soul, the rest will not matter.

So, what can I do to create more peace in my life?

First, I can change my thoughts. 
The year ahead will be full of many changes and challenges- some already known, some not yet imagined. It is all too easy to let the stress and uncertainty of life steal our joy, and rob us of our peace. When life starts to feel scary and out of control, and our minds race and we begin to imagine the worst, we can remember that we control our thoughts.  I can make the decision to stop the negative flow of thoughts and choose peaceful ones. 

Second, I can change my interactions. 
I accept that I can not bring about world peace.  But, I surely have the ability to bring peace to my personal world. The way I interact with others changes when I use peace as my guide. I can choose to bring fire or peace to any encounter. I cannot bring peace if my heart is full of anger and resentment.  I  bring fire if my words are harsh, and my tone is disagreeable.  I can bring peace to my interactions if I listen with understanding, practice compassion over judgment, and express kindness instead of anger.  These days a smile, a kind word, and a thank you can go a long way.

In addition to changing how I interact with others, I also have to be aware of how people are interacting with me. Clearly, I have much less control over that side of the equation. And while it isn't always possible or practical to avoid people or situations that leave me feeling less than peaceful, I can still choose my response. Instead of arguing or raging right along with them, I can decide to react peacefully and try to quietly change their response.  It is a tall order, but definitely something to aspire to. 

Thirdly, I can change what I consume.
What I "consume" is an essential part of what is in my mind and heart.  Choosing well makes a difference. It is too easy to be swallowed up by the negative culture of the world around us. If my diet consists of angry news shows, snarky commentary, and gossipy exchanges; then I am less likely to exhibit peaceful tendencies.  If I make a conscious decision to be more selective in what I consume, then my likelihood of reflecting the same goes up.  Peace in, peace out...

And lastly,
when peace seems impossible,
and my circumstances seem wildly out of control,
and my mind cannot be quieted,
and I don't know what else to do,
I know that I can rely on my faith.  Having peace in my soul is only possible with God.
Acknowledging my limitations, conceding that I am not in charge of everything, and
accepting that God is-

That is the surefire path to peace.

I may spend the next 50 years continuing to search for peace. And I may keep trying and failing to add more peace to my world, but in the end, I know that God's peace is the only one that really matters.

Previous Post

Moving Truck Blues

Unusual noise and chaos woke me up early this past weekend.   It didn't take long for my sleepy eyes to see a large moving truck parked ...