Friday, January 16, 2015

Peace Like a River

With the arrival of the new year, many of us take stock of our lives--where we're at, where we're headed, what we wish to accomplish in the year to come.  While I've never been a huge "resolution" person, in more recent years I've become more intentional about the progress I wish to make in the coming year. By being around goal-oriented friends and reading books on the subject, goal-making has rubbed off on me a bit!  So, while I'm still reluctant to adopt the more formal (and intimidating!) "list" approach to resolutions, I do love the practice of choosing a one-word goal.

Having a one word goal helps give me focus during the day-to-day routines of life.  It's a gentle reminder, when I feel like I'm stumbling and overwhelmed, to just slow down and see the bigger picture. My one word becomes a part of me, changing me forever.  One of the really neat things that has happened ever since adopting this practice, is that I have begun to see the inter-connection between my words from year to year.  As I worked on trust a couple of years ago, I discovered how it was related to my previous goal of "courage."  The connection makes sense, really, since spiritual goals never really exist in isolation.  I've been marveling at how my words have fit together year by year, like puzzle pieces.

A beautiful necklace my (awesome!) sister made for me for Christmas.

This year, the word I've chosen is peace.  Sometime last Fall I started thinking about what my new word would be.  One of the words that initially came to mind was "stillness."  As I began to think and read about stillness, it led me to the word peace, which felt just perfect.  While I spent 2014 trying to live more fully in the present, I felt like I wasn't allowing enough time to just be at peace.  My days are often filled with near-constant interruptions, noise and busyness (homeschooling 4 kids can have that effect!).  But I need peace in order to steady myself.  And one of the amazing things about peace is that it can still exist in times of chaos, because it's not dependent upon the environment; it's something that dwells within us.

Once I decided on peace as my word for 2015 I wanted to start by seeing how the dictionary defines it. The definitions were a great place to begin:

Peace: Freedom from disturbance; quiet tranquility.  A state of security.  Freedom from oppressive thoughts or emotions.  A state of calmness. 

I loved thinking about peace as a type of "freedom."  How true that being held captive--by our surroundings, or thoughts and fears--is what destroys our peace. After pondering this definition I wanted to see what scripture had to say on the matter of peace:

"'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed' says the Lord." --Isaiah 54:10

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." --Isaiah 55:12

"I have told you these things, so that in me, you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world." --John 16:33

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit." --Rom. 15:13

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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." --Phil. 4:6-7

But the one that spoke to me the loudest was this verse that helped bring me comfort through my miscarriages:

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  --John 14:27

As I read all of these verses, so many amazing things kept popping out at me...most of all the connection between peace and hope, trust, thanksgiving and joy.  Before I had read the scripture verses on peace, I hadn't given a ton of thought to how closely related all of these things are.  But it started to dawn on me, that when we have give thanks, we can trust more deeply, which fills us with hope, spilling over into joy...all of these things working together toward peace.  So, in a sense, peace is the gateway to joy!  Amazing!

I'm looking forward to seeing where my one word will take me this year.  So far, I've been setting aside time each day to read and think about peace.  I've been trying my best to put aside the Martha-esque to-dos and worries, to just be still.  One of the things I've enjoyed playing around with lately is Zentangle.  Concentrating on the repetitive strokes and letting go of perfection while I do it is a great way to bring calm and a feeling of peacefulness.  My good friend introduced me to it about a month ago, and I've been loving it ever since! 

I've also resolved to write in my gratitude journal every. single. day.  While I've somewhat kept up kept up on jotting things down in my journal, I had fallen out of the practice of writing in it daily.  So, now I begin each morning jotting down my eucharisteo.  

I've also put into practice, during my morning prayer time, a few minutes to just be quiet and let God speak.  I tend to do a lot of "talking" to God when I pray, and sometimes I forget to just listen.   

I can't wait to see what the year ahead will bring!

Do you choose a one word goal for the year?  I'd love to hear yours.  Do you make a list of resolutions?  Feel free to share in the comments!


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