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My mom is a big fan of peace. One year, when asked what she wanted for Christmas, she replied, “I just want a little peace.” So my sister and I obnoxiously wrote the word “peace” on little pieces of paper and put them in a box and wrapped it. She didn’t find it as funny as we did.
In retrospect, I now understand why “peace” was so sought after by my mother. As a young person, I didn’t realize how pervasive the chaos and dysfunction was in our family–how our home was far from peaceful and why she was militant about requiring our weekly attendance at church. There was peace and comfort at mass. She found solace on her knees with her God.
Dad, on the other hand, was an alcoholic. As an adult, I now realize how his alcoholism morphed our family from functional to dysfunctional, how our experiences as children of an alcoholic shaped my sister and me, and how the enemy would love nothing more than for me to use this dysfunctional upbringing as an excuse for my own bad behavior.
That lack of peace and stability has wide-ranging impact, often in the most subtle and strange ways.
For instance, I am a conflict avoider. I will sacrifice my own feelings and needs in the name of “peace.” I was trained this way—do whatever you can to have the illusion of peace in your dysfunctional home.
As a young adult, through the grace of God and a strong teacher in the Word, I learned what true peace is, what it looks like, and how it can be mine.
Peace is defined from the world’s perspective as a “freedom from disturbance; tranquility.” For believers, however, it is so much more. Yes, there is a state of inner tranquility, but it’s a supernatural gift that transcends circumstances.
Did you get that? God’s peace can be yours regardless of what you are going through.
Sickness? You can have peace. Strife? Yep, peace. Name your circumstance—job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, rejection, and even if you have an alcoholic parent—you can have peace.
Does this peace mean that it doesn’t hurt? Absolutely not. Does it mean that it is easy? Nope, no way. But, you can have peace when you give your burdens to God and ask Him to carry them for you.
“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
“I will give you rest” has always resonated with me; not because I’m physically tired, but because my brain gets tired. I’m your classic over-thinker (another trait of a child of an alcoholic). I read between the lines of every conversation, replaying them in my head and over-analyzing every decision I’ve ever made or will ever make. Suffice it to say, I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to figure things out. Even God.
I grasped the concept of supernatural peace early on in my faith walk when I experienced it firsthand, but it’s the whole “trying to understand what God is up to” that can make me crazy and bone tired. We learn from the Scriptures that His ways (just like that peace) are beyond our understanding, so why bother trying to figure Him out. One of my favorite Scriptures addresses this, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
Lest you think I have it all figured out, let me reassure that I do not. What I do have is a history of internal peace when my circumstances did not warrant it and a God who exceeds my expectations and grants me good gifts beyond my imagination (and understanding).
When I have my moments of unrest and a downright lack of peace I ask myself these questions.
- Have I prayed about it?
- Have I really given it to God?
- Am I asking God to bless MY plan instead of waiting for Him to reveal His?
- Am I still holding on to “it,” letting it control my thoughts and actions?
- Was there a time when I lacked peace, a solution to a problem, or understanding and God let me down?
That last question is a doozy, especially because I’m old and I’ve been through some stuff. But God–He always has my back. He has never left me or forsaken me, and His plans for me can be trusted. Even when I don’t understand or recognize what He is doing.
A last word about peace.
You can be a peacemaker in a healthy, non-dysfunctional way. There is great value in this crazy world when a believer steps in and actively tries to reconcile people to God and one another. Even if you aren’t actively peacemaking, you can make a difference by exhibiting peace to others, especially during difficult times. This fruit of the Spirit is intriguing to those who wallow in their circumstances and cannot understand why you aren’t controlled by yours.
So if you are lacking peace, check yourself Our God has promised it to you—it’s a gift and a gift He wants you to have in abundance! Let yourself enjoy it.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give 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
The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalms 29:11
As for my mom, her house is filled with peace. Literally. If it has the word “peace” on it, one of us will buy it for her. More important than these external reminders, she has peace in her heart.
My Dad died way too soon, leaving her a young widow with more peace and quiet than she wanted or planned. His passing was unexpected and devastating to our family, but none of us would deny that when we lost him, we gained some peace.
In honor of my mom and her love of peace, I will end with her favorite scripture blessing:
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
If you are the child of an alcoholic or struggling with alcoholism or other substance abuse, there are faith-based resources that can help. Check with your church for a local support group, or one of the following online resources for more information.
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Dawn has worked for Christian Care Ministry for 20 years, serving our members in her role as Sr. Manager of Communications. Dawn spends much of her free time in nature, searching for elusive birds and taking average iPhone pictures of alligators and stunning scenery to make all her friends jealous.
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