What is your idea of the picture-perfect life? Married with children before the age of 30? A house, completely paid for, on a big chunk of land out in the country with a white picket fence? The perfect body? That dream job that you enjoy and also pays well? The freedom to choose when to work and when to rest?
Not many people have all, if any of these things, and even the ones that do often times don’t truly appreciate them. See, when we have been fed from a silver spoon, when we have been blessed beyond measure and have absolutely nothing to compare it to, it’s difficult to truly comprehend gratitude. Sometimes a hungry stomach and an empty wallet can teach you more about gratitude than anything else. Sometimes it’s the people who have the least who actually have the most peace. Gratitude and peace go hand in hand; those who are truly grateful have peace.
Having the picture perfect life isn’t what impresses me anymore, and it’s not what I’m after; it’s peace. That’s the one thing that cannot be taken from you when you truly know the Lord, when you walk with Him daily.
What do warriors do in times of peace? They prepare. The time to prepare isn’t during times of war and strife; it’s when things are going good in your life and you have the time as well as the mental and physical space to do so. The time to establish good habits is before the trials and tribulations. Preparation is essential to maintaining peace. People who have true peace understand that peace isn’t something you simply have, but it’s an ongoing, lifelong process of maintaining it, maintaining your relationship with God.
Peace is about not being shaken; it’s about maintaining your integrity, the glue that holds you together. Have you ever gone through something difficult, and you later find yourself going through the motions of the day? It’s because you’ve allowed a particular circumstance to occupy too much space in your heart and mind, and your peace has been taken. It becomes all you can think about because that’s all you have the space for.
Relationships are one of the most common “peace-stealers.” Too many times, I’ve allowed my peace to be taken from me by relationships God never approved of me being in. This is why God tells us to guard our hearts. I’m very careful now about who I allow into my life; I love peace, and I protect it at all costs.
When taking a closer look at those relationships, the very fact that I was in them to begin with was proof that I didn’t have true peace, but a counterfeit peace of sorts. True peace comes from God, and it cannot be taken away from you.
Perfectionism has been an ongoing theme in my life, and truth be told, it’s taken my peace away more times than I can count. I’ve worked really hard to choose peace over perfection, to let go when things aren’t just right. The stronger I become in my faith, the more I realize that perfection (or anywhere near it) is something only achievable by God, and every time I strive for perfection, I’m actually trying to take on a role only God is supposed to be in. When I do this, I’m sinning. God knows what’s best for me. He knows that the less sin I have in my life, the more peace I will have and the better off I will be. This means letting go of my own ideals and seeking God’s; this means trading in my dream of a picture perfect life for picture perfect peace.
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