Seek Peace & Pursue It

I’m learning that in spite of the hardships I face, I can still choose to rest in God’s peace. My use of the word choose is intentional, as the past year-plus taught me this while I managed anxiety surrounding family, school, and finances. I tried so hard to rely on myself; to be the cool, calm, and resilient person I knew I could be. The problem was that neither my peace nor my strength was in God, but rather in my own capabilities. In the end my wit and charm got me as far as my 2 year old nephew playing Sonic the Hedgehog (he runs off the track almost immediately). My actions involuntarily chose panic rather than peace.

I struggle sometimes between what I see in front of me and what I know in my spirit. I see a mountain of frustrating circumstances that is seemingly impossible. But my spirit knows the promises of Romans 8 – that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. It can be hard to find peace and balance when you live in that kind of duality.

We are human. We desire that which is tangible to the senses rather than the spirit. We prefer the guarantees of a signed contract with people than the divine promises of God, which is understandable to some extent. In choosing peace, however, we choose that which doesn’t make sense at first – like confidently applying to a private university with a Ramen noodle budgetPeace is not a magical arrangement of circumstances, where everything is perfect. As the late John Paul Jackson said, “Peace, or shalom, isn’t just a feeling you’re left with— it’s an action you take.”

Some obstacles we face are the result of a lack of faith or comfortability with chaos. When tackling doubt I have to be upfront and honest with God, and like the desperate father in Mark 9 pray, “I believe, but help my unbelief.”

Dealing with drama proves to be a whole ‘nother story, and is best exemplified on some of the television shows I watch.

With all of the saddening and often angering news headlines, I tend to decompress with what I callfluff. It’s sometimes reality TV; usually pointless and very petty. I began to notice in nearly every show, the reality show cast member who often proclaims how much they hate drama is usually the one who willingly walks into it or starts it. It’s evident in the “friends” they surround themselves with, and the tomfoolish choices they make.

But as much as I laugh and shake my head, this mirrors the real lives of many, including my own. It is not enough to just want peace. Psalm 34 says, “Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.” This means each day we have to be intentional in our quest for peace and chase after it. We cannot achieve it on desire alone.

So this often means unplugging from social media drama on our timelines and refraining from indulgence of office rumors. I too am guilty of gossiping or unnecessarily involving myself in a feud that has very little or nothing to do with me. I discovered this two years ago when a counselor pointed out that nearly all of the matters I was stressed about did not directly involve me. This is not only the problem of a gossip, but also the problem of an empath. The problems that hit our loved ones are also felt strongly by us, much like a person who experiences the pain of their twin sibling.

As I began to let go of the reigns on my life and let peace rule my heart, I initially mistook it for emotional numbness. Why was I not upset about what was happening? Does this mean I no longer care?

I’m discovering the answer is no. And this has been my biggest revelation going into the new year. My concern over a matter does not have to manifest itself in debilitating anxiety or fear. Instead it can manifest itself in the peace that surpasses all understanding, which I know can only come from God. And choosing to rest in that peace is the best decision I make each day I get out of bed.

—Tara Pook