Talking to a friend tonight who said, “You know they say money don’t make you happy? I never believed that. I know it’s true…what does? Goals? God? Love? Romance? Kids? Nope. PEACE!” Amen! But I’d remove God from the ? because I believe God is the answer. With God, we have peace. God = peace. All of the other answers have a down side: goals, love and romance can each fail and kids can worry us to death with the choices they make or in some severe cases, we can become estranged from them. But with God, there is no downside. Okay…so we have to submit to Him and resist our desires to live however we want, but that’ s not a downside! That’s a choice and God gave us that right to choose. He didn’t say it’d be easy. If we live by the flesh, we get flesh results. If we live by the spirit, we get spirit results. True peace is from the spirit so why would we not need to live by it in order to fully achieve it?
I will say, since I’ve started this walk, I do feel peace. What’s crazy is, I still cry, I still worry (even though the bible says it is folly: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?” Matthew 6:27) but I have this odd sense of peace in the storm. And I don’t really consider myself in a storm anymore. I’m in that calm stillness after the storm when the sky is a beautiful awkward greenish-orange color and the smell of rain still lingers in the air. My storm was years in the making up until last week. No wonder I feel a sense of peace now that the worse is over. Amen! Praise God! And you may ask, how is it that I can say the worse is over? Well, I can finally admit that I need help. I need God. And I’m taking the steps to actually do something about it.
For others who may be in their own storm, let me explain some of the steps I am taking:
First, I read my bible and other spiritually healthy books. I don’t just knock off a few verses or blow through a whole chapter, I chew on it. I read it, then re-read it. I may look up verses I like in other versions so I can better understand it. I may email/text my Pastor and ask him to explain something that doesn’t make sense to me. I write verses I like on note cards and flip through them when I’m short on time. I write them on my dry erase board by my bed so I see them when I wake up and when I go to bed. I try to memorize ones that really mean something to me.
I watch positive movies and listen to positive music. Secular music can bring us down even farther. Listening to someone poeticly describe how they miss someone or feel like dying, makes me…feel like dying and it brings back a flood of memories that renew the ache. (Remember what I wrote about spiritual ties??) I cry and I feel horrible. But with Christian music, it reminds me that God loves me. That the pain is real but I’m not alone. It makes me remember what I should appreciate in life and who I should be giving thanks to. I have even given her authority to right me when I’m wrong and to ‘come up side my head’ when I get off track. That’s what a spiritual advisor does – they keep us accountable.
I talk to friends. All kinds of friends. But I’m careful that I don’t associate with those who could be harmful to me. An alcoholic doesn’t hang out at a bar if he’s trying to stay sober if you know what I mean. Some friends are good for hanging out with, while others are great for sharing my walk. My spiritual advisor is PERFECT for when I get really down. Just like Christian music, she reminds me what God says. She directs me to passages I need to read and meditate on. She reels me in and gives me a proverbial reality check. She prays with me. Sometimes she even relates my trials to her own and we discuss what she did to get over the bumps.
I talk to God. Sometimes that takes the form of prayer but other times it’s like a fully blown conversation with a friend. I let Him be a part of my day whether it’s good or bad. He doesn’t just want us to call on Him when we’re sick or in need. He wants to be in on the good parts, too. I may pray while I’m driving or walking around the block or around the lake at the park. I try to include him where I would normal include a man. (Remember, He’s my new boyfriend!) Praying isn’t just for bedtime. Praying occurs everywhere and anywhere. The more I talk, the more I can see that He listens. It makes Him feel closer and that just fills me with more peace.
And other times, I listen to my friends. I try to be a spiritual influence for them. If I can do just 1% of what my spiritual advisor does for me, for someone else??? Wow! That’s an awesome feeling. It’s that whole ‘pay it forward’ concept in action. I’ve been a religious person a long time, but not to this degree. I wonder if some of my friends ever really knew that about me?? Did I not share that side of me before? Shame on me. I’m no bible-thumper but then again…I question what that really is. If I mention God x number of times? If I pray at a resturant before I eat? If I forgive people for their discretions? If I don’t want you sending me profane photos even if they are funny? If I don’t want to cuss and call you out when you do? Well, in that case…call me a bible thumper.
Lastly, as you can see in this blog, I find a release. Sometimes that includes writing, taking photos or creating a new “How Great Thou Art” piece. Sometimes my writing takes the form of a new blog entry, a poem or just a personal brain storm of things that are on my mind. Finding a releases helps to loosen some of the bricks that I’ve built along the way. When I can express myself, it’s like I can better let go of the pain. It’s like a balloon. Keep putting air in it and it’s gonna pop at some point. Everyone needs a release. Some draw, some sculpt, some paint, some build things with wood. It’s all a matter of what makes you tick. I’ve even been known to refurbish furniture. I started to second guess this coping mechanism, but, now that I think about it, it is directly related to God because it is recognizing the talent He has blessed us with. When we don’t use our God given talents, we stiffle ourselves. He gave us these talents just for this purpose, so that we can release and, if you think about it, touch others. How much artwork is on your walls? How many songs are on your iTunes? Someone’s God given talent created that and it adorns your walls or occupies your space. That’s why I’m trying to only have things of God in my life…but that’s another topic.
Let me close with this. Recall me saying how our minds are the devil’s playground? Well, doing such things occupies the playground and he can’t get in! So I read, listen to Christian music, talk to friends, talk to God, pray, listen to friends and find a release, like enjoying and sharing my God given talents, like writing new blogs!