It was the tipping point …
The beginning of the fall. No, it wasn’t a crash, a sudden impact dive that you didn’t see coming. I saw this coming. I could feel it making its way toward me and yet, I was entirely helpless to stop it.
It was a slow, distinct unraveling. That moment where you can feel the wheels teetering ever so slightly out of balance until the whole thing comes unhinged. My heart, that is.
This was the season of my undoing.
I was quite certain I had never planned for this. My life was a well-structured agenda of fortitude, perseverance, accomplishments. They needed me in some misconstrued way, yet I needed them more.
From my earliest memories, I can recall that feeling, deep in my bones, that insane and horrific gnawing that I was not enough. That I would have to prove myself. I needed to be special. I needed to feel worthy. Loved.
I heard people say, If you try hard enough, you can accomplish anything.
I believed them.
So I set my face like flint against the wind, I measured my sails, and I set out to prove my worth to the world.
Whatever it takes, that was my motto.
Whether that meant hours of studying or practicing to be good enough. Whether it meant endless miles running wrapped in plastic wrap to be skinny enough, I did it. That was me.
In seventh grade, I was voted Most Likely To Succeed in my class. It felt good. The awards felt good. Just not quite good enough.
I kept going. I thought there was some point where I would arrive. Where I would attain. Where I would be enough.
I knew there was something adrift …
If I was quiet enough, I could hear the tremors begin to quake. I felt the muffled pangs just beneath the surface.
I wanted to be healed. I longed to know what wholeness felt like. I craved peace more than anything I could imagine.
That must be for someone else, I thought, but it must not be for me.
I often felt like the woman in Scripture reaching out, desperate to touch the threads that lined the hem of Jesus’ robe. Surely if I could touch Him, she must have thought, then I would be healed. (Mark 5:21-34)
I understood the longing of the blind man, who day after day, hoped and prayed that he would one day see. How could he have known his Savior, his Healer would come with a little clay and a little spit near the pool of Siloam and give him everything he’d ever hoped for. How? (John 9:1-12)
I could see myself like Peter, shivering in the waves and wind as he stepped out of the boat onto the Sea of Galilee. If only I had enough fortitude to keep my eyes on Jesus, I could have walked on water without sinking beneath the waves of doubt and fear that pulled me under. (Matthew 14:22-33)
And then my healing came …
Not in the way you’d expect. Jesus ushered me into a sacred place. A sacred season. Jesus led me to this season of healing and He never let go.
I heard Him whisper to me, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
I needed rest.
Each week, in my season of healing, Jesus faithfully sat with me as I unpacked the weight of burdens that had become too heavy for me to carry. I could feel His hand resting on the back of my aching hand as I connected stories of my past, my wounding. He held me in His arms as I wept for the broken things that had drained any measure of hope in my soul. I felt Him. I found rest in Him.
As I learned new ways of being, new ways of believing, like a proud parent, He lovingly coaxed and cheered me on as I took my first measured, stumbling steps.
Jesus sat with pride as He watched me rebuild the foundation of my life. He nurtured the roots of our relationship well. I felt my worth for the first time. I saw His delight in me.
I was building and living a life of peace. It was all I had ever hoped for. Longed for. To breathe. To feel solid and sure. To experience wholeness. To experience abundance. Physical abundance, spiritual abundance, emotional abundance.
In John 10:10b (NKJV) Jesus shares, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Psalm 29:11 (NIV) adds, The Lord gives strength to His people. The Lord blesses his people with peace.
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, refers to wholeness, completeness, safety, soundness and fullness. I believe that God’s desire for each of us as individuals is to experience that kind of abundance in our lives, both spiritually and emotionally.
The Peace Pilgrimage …
As I’ve counseled thousands of individuals and couples during my career as a Professional Therapist —or desert guide, as I like to describe my profession —the one thing that my clients universally long for is not money, not success, not even happiness. The one thing they desire more than anything else is peace.
Peace isn’t some elusive feeling. Peace is not a holy grail of emotionalism. Peace is simply the by-product of a life built on a foundation of Emotional Abundance.
Emotional Abundance is built from the ground up. Emotional Abundance is something that can be cultivated and embraced, that will alter everything about how we experience God, ourselves, and those with whom we are in relationship.
Thomas Merton poignantly portrayed, “We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.”
I’ve discovered three ways
we can walk away from our pain, and embrace a life of peace …
By Examining Our Lives from the Bottom Up
We will only experience true peace as we first experience peace with God. Peace with God is the foundation of a solid, stable life, filled with richness and beauty and meaning. We were created as spiritual beings, in His image. We were created to have a connection, a deep and vital relationship with the God of the Universe. We were not meant to be ships anchored unto ourselves, tossed by the whims and waves of life. We were designed to be ships anchored into something powerful, something larger than ourselves that steadies and strengthens us for the journey.
By Discovering The Man (or Woman) In the Mirror
Peace with God is what allows us to come face to face with ourselves and cultivate peace within the interior spaces of our beings. We cannot begin to own our emotional identity if we do not own our spiritual identity as the beloved of our Father. We cannot learn to be kind or compassionate with ourselves if we have not grasped hold of God’s great hand of compassion that is always reaching toward us. To find, discover, lay hold of His safe refuge that allows us to be authentic and strong, passionate and purposeful is perhaps our most transcendent blessing.
By Cultivating Healthy, Thriving Relationships
As Merton describes, we are only capable of attaining peace in our relationships if we have laid the foundation of peace with God and peace with ourselves. How could we believe that we could experience abundant relationships if we had never experienced an abundant self? Yet, as we discover peace with ourselves, we are able to enjoy and celebrate true abundance, true peace in our relationships. We are able to be more emotionally honest, more centered and stable. We are able to breathe life and freedom into our relationships.
Life doesn’t change. We change.
In my book, Peace for a Lifetime – Embracing a Life of Hope, Wholeness, and Harmony through Emotional Abundance, I walk with readers through whatever season of life they are in, and lay out simple, practical life-steps that will help them find healing and will nurture Emotional Abundance in every area of their lives.
Is peace something that has always eluded you?
Is peace something you have always wanted in your relationships, but have never managed to experience, at least not for any length of time?
Do you, too, feel so alone in your brokenness that hope simply seems beyond your reach?
You don’t have to keep trying so hard to prove your worth. You don’t have to keep pushing, hoping that everything will turn out okay. Healing isn’t just for someone else. Healing is for you.
Jesus is whispering to you, Come to me…
Will you come to Him today? Will you accept the peace He has for you? Will you let Him walk you from your season of pain right into His peace?
You can experience the love for which you long.
You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine.
You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow.
You can experience peace —for a lifetime.
How is God encouraging you today?