20 days. Nearly three weeks ago, I wrote part one. It started like this:
It never fails. The day you want to start something, the enemy comes to distract you. Whether he succeeds or not really lies with you but in those moments, we feel that he has total power. The title Finding Peace In A Crazy World is about slaying the demons that demand our attention and focus when it should be elsewhere.
Now I’ll remind you that it has been 20 days since I wrote that post. Talk about being distracted. My intention was to write the rest the following day…then the following…then the following. I am now at a friend’s house who is also a writer. Although our topics are often very different, we both understand how important it is to set the tone of your writing space, be it at home, in a coffee shop, or at a friend’s house. There might be certain music playing on the surround sound or in your headphones, oils diffusing or candles burning, comfy clothes and maybe even a blanket. You might have your favorite beverage or a simple cup of coffee to give you a little energy. When you finally get your environment conducive to a good writing session, it never fails…something distracts you.
Thinking of all the things that have occurred over the past few weeks has me wondering if I just need to reread my own words. In all honesty, sometimes what we write can be as much if not more for ourselves. Let’s face it, distraction has become something we expect but never prepare for. When I consider all that I could have written in the past few weeks, I feel bad that I have not made more of an effort to refine a gift God has given me. Do you ever feel that way? That you’ve put something so far behind on the back burner you have to literally turn yourself upside-down to get things right-side-up again. I’ve put so much time between part one that I am having to go back to revisit what I wrote because I can’t even remember anymore. It was good but I needed to read it myself!
So here I sit, at my friends with my headphones in, cup of tea on the table, comfy clothes and blanket atop her couch. The next words that come out of the mouth of the singer playing in my ears are, “I am guilty.”
That’s exactly how I’m feeling right now.
My word of 2018 is INTENTIONAL yet I can honestly say I’ve only been intentional at about 20% of things that both need and deserve my all. This thing called life is hard but it isn’t impossible. How can it be that we have something on our minds to do then the next minute our minds are nowhere near where they started or where they should be? It can be because we allow it to happen.
I said in Part One that, “You CAN find peace – BUT it won’t come easy. It will require some thought, action and quite possibly, behavioral change.”
For so long we have been allowing circumstances outside of our control, control us. Instead of pushing through to make things happen, we have so easily caved into our feelings in a situation that we have no control over.
Let me remind you of something else I wrote previously…You aren’t failing when you have a bad day. You aren’t failing when you have to fake your smile or fight past feelings causing you to struggle. You aren’t failing when you realize you really need to think about the reasons you should be happy. You’re just at a point when the crazy world is starting to get to you.
Here’s what I realized since writing that…we’re letting it. We are letting this crazy world and the people in our lives affect how we feel, how we act and ultimately, if we are following along the path leading to our destiny.
So now it’s time for the meat and potatoes; the main dish for which this all has been written to say…
Finding Peace In A Crazy World isn’t too far-fetched. It IS achievable, but it will take our ATTENTION just as much as it will take INTENTION. There are some practical steps you will have to take but if you do them, even just some of them, I guarantee you will be better equipped to handle the crazy that I guarantee will try to take your day away – again.
When I was in the shower this morning, I was praying. I’m a random prayer. Sometimes it’s in the morning when I’m reading, just to myself. Other times it’s out loud when I’m on the elliptical. And sometimes, well, sometimes it’s when I’m in the shower! I was praying about our team that is currently in Brazil who we have absolutely no contact with. One of those team members is my husband, who I am thankful will be home in four more sleeps. I adopted this phrase from the very friend who sits across the living room from me. It’s something she says with her daughters when talking about how much longer it will be until their dad comes home who, incidentally is on the same mission trip as my husband. Thinking about how many “sleeps” is a lot easier than trying to figure out if today counts as a day and how about the day we see them? Sleeps makes sense. It’s tangible and cannot be argued. So now that I’ve explained the four sleeps I have left until he’s home, I can now fill you in a little more on my prayers. They were about keeping them safe, healthy and happy. While I know they will be leaving a lasting impact on the people in the villages of the Amazon, I pray that God’s impact on their lives is equally as lasting. I prayed that the things they are getting from God are moving them in such a way that it will be life-changing, in a good way but a lasting way – that they are able to keep feeling the way they’re feeling and doing as God has called them to do, even once they’re home. Not only that, but I also pray that the things that God is doing in my life while he’s gone will last as well. My feelings are different when he’s not here. I see ways that I can be a helper more to him. I realize how much he does and how much more I can do. And so begin the thoughts…thoughts of the things I need to do, how I need to purposely set aside time to do things that will help me to be a better wife and mother, how I need to step up my game and show him even more than ever, how much I appreciate just who he is and how much of an impact he makes on our entire household. Those thoughts eventually led back to prayers for the team and others who are there. Praying for some individuals I began thinking about some things that I knew had been said to those very people I was praying for; things that are hurtful and were said shortly before they left. Then my mind began to start wandering in a different direction; in a direction that made me hopeful that they are not letting these words resonate. I also thought about the people who said those hurtful words who were in no place to put down a friend. While these individuals struggle in the same area, I find it hard to take that one feels the need to put down rather than bring up this friend. Who are they to say something like this when they know it’s the last thing that would help them? And the cycle stops there. God spoke very loudly.
I know I’ve said this before but I should reiterate to those of you who are new to reading my posts…I don’t audibly here the voice of God. It might frighten me a bit if I did! No, God speaks to me through words He puts on my heart that I then think. Sometimes they stop me dead in my tracks like these 16 words did:
I am not going to let the things people say dictate the thoughts that I think.
In this situation, I was allowing words someone else had said to another take over my prayers. If I can allow someone else’s words to someone else affect me in such a way, what was I doing in the situations when someone said something directly to me? Ouch! That’s where those 20 days went!
So there you have it folks, Lesson #1 in how to find peace in a crazy world is to not let the things people say dictate the thoughts that I think. We hear it often and I say it often – We cannot control the thoughts that creep into our minds but we can control what stays there. We have to do better with keeping ourselves on topic. If the thoughts creep in, push them out. Pray if you have to. I have to remember that I am the only one who can keep me focused. I may not be responsible for some of the distractions but I am solely responsible for allowing those distractions to take my focus. What about the distractions that we cause? That’s Lesson #2…
We have to disconnect from the things that cause us to disconnect. You know what those things are. They’re social media, the news, anything with connectivity that you initiate. That’s right, YOU have chosen this distraction so there’s no one else to blame for what follows but you. Here’s what happens…you connect for a quick second but are immediately brought to something, then to another, and another until you forget how you got there in the first place. These things that help us connect with some people or things cause us to disconnect from other [more important] things. I’m going to repeat that again…The very things that help us connect are the same things that cause us to disconnect. What you do with those few brief moments can have a substantial effect on the rest of your afternoon and sometimes even your relationships. Be careful.
Lesson #3: If you want to be better at something you have to do it. You’re not going to get better at push-ups by doing crunches. So how do you expect to be a wife if you’re focusing on being a better mother? How are you going to be a better husband if you’re focusing on being better at your job? How are you going to learn to focus more when you just created more distractions in your life? The cycle continues until you decide that what you want and need to get better at is going to require some work. How does that relate to finding peace you ask? It has everything to do with finding peace because of one, very important reason. If we are not the best we can be, or at least striving to be the best we can be, in every role we have in our lives we will never FEEL that comfort and peace in those roles. If you’re not putting your all in and making changes that will help you to be successful in those roles, you’re never going to be working at your full potential. There’s no peace at putting half your effort into anything. And it isn’t just about the roles we have either. If you want to get stronger, you will not get there just walking – you’ll need to lift weights! If you want to be closer to God, you’re going to have to read His Word, praying will only do it for so long.
That brings me to Lesson #4: New level, new devil. Ouch! You didn’t know I was going there did you? It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian, simply spiritual or confidently confused, once you take a step in the right direction and start making progress, it is inevitable that things are going to come into your life to distract you, to take your focus, to throw you off course. We talk about this often in church in regards to people’s relationship with Christ. The closer you get to Him, the better you get at your walk, the harder things are going to get. The enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy and he doesn’t want you to succeed. You think you’re going to play hardball and outsmart him, he’ll find another way in, typically through your mind because that’s where he gets us the quickest and the deepest. The only advice I can give you about this is know this – new level, new devil – and then when something happens, simply acknowledge that’s what it is instead of giving in to the feelings that you instinctively have along with it. Make your actions support your direction and your goals, showing that enemy that he’ll just have to try again later because he won’t be getting you this time!
Lesson #5 You’re not of this world. I believe we’re beings created for a purpose only we can fulfill. Regardless of how good, bad or indifferent you are, I know that God created you for a reason even if your choices don’t always or have never reflected it. He gave us free will so you can choose what you do, how you act and react, but just know you are made with love for love. It’s simple. Do it, give it, have it – LOVE. You can’t let the things of this world have such an impact on you. If you are meant to make a difference in a situation then do it, but don’t let that situation have you. It’s important to know that our actions must reflect who we are meant to be, not how we’re feeling about things going on around us.
Although most of those lessons were pretty deep, I have some easier, more practical ways to find peace in a crazy world. If all else fails or you are simply lacking time and can’t get out of your own thoughts, try doing any or all of these things and tell me that you don’t feel better!
- Hold a baby. This may not work for everyone and it will be best with a calm, maybe even sleeping baby!
- Get puppy kisses. You may not be a dog lover, but I’m telling you if you sit down on the ground and let a puppy lick your face, you WILL SMILE!!
- Go for a walk. Sometimes this is even good if it’s raining! But for goodness sakes, if you’re going for a walk, PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY!!
- Listen to music. This is a little tricky though. You can’t turn on angry music and expect to feel like looking at sunshine and rainbows. Let’s be honest, it’s going to take something a little different than that. Whether you believe me or not, you are affected by what you listen to and what you watch. Try listening to only Christian music for a little while (days) and tell me that something doesn’t feel different. There’s some good Christian music out there too so don’t think it has to be slow or boring! Try Crowder, Third Day or Need to Breathe. For me, sometimes I need some 80s-90s country music. Other times, I need the old KEZK favorites that I listen to as a teenager to fall asleep. Some days, a little Michael Jackson has just the right touch. Experiment. Find something and stick with it for a bit.
- Get fresh air. How about just sitting outside for a bit? Early morning, late night or mid-day, doesn’t matter.
- Disconnect. Seriously, do it. I don’t need to say anything else about this.
- Exercise. Endorphins have such a positive effect on your body both inside and out.
- Eat better. What you put in your body effects more than your shape. It can affect your mood, your health and so many things that you could literally become a different person if you just bit the bullet and put the right foods into your body!
There are so many other things that I could tell you to help you find PEACE in this crazy world but the best advice is to simply not let this world have you. Here are a few final words of advice…
- Be passionate about something but don’t let it dictate your every move.
- Be careful how much effort you put into things that aren’t going to help you to be a better you.
- And for goodness sake, stop letting things that don’t matter impact you.
Read Finding Peace in a Crazy World: Part I