Is it just me or has 2020 just felt like a whole lot of noise? Log online for 10 minutes and it seems everyone has an opinion on everything. And everyone wants you to hear all of their opinions, all the time, very loudly.
I found myself for a good portion of this year listening very closely to all of these voices, constantly asking myself: Am I doing enough? Am I believing the right things? Am I caring for my neighbor correctly? I was seeking out good, but the longer I let those voices drive my discernment, the more confused I got. Brilliantly (in God’s typical fashion) a book fell into my lap this summer that has changed the course of my year for the good. “Searching for and Maintaining Peace” by Father Jacques Philippe is a short, instructional-like-manual on interior peace and it PACKS A PUNCH.
Philippe describes the fruits of interior peace as follows, “The more our soul is peaceful and tranquil, the more God is reflected in it, the more His image expresses itself in us, the more His grace acts through us.” (P. 5)
After beginning this journey with interior peace, I realized I wasn’t stepping back and quieting the human voices in my life long enough to actually listen to God, Himself. I wasn’t seeking interior peace within my soul. And, this disquiet was driving my everyday interactions with the world around me. My restlessness, my fear, my frustrations, my anger was in the driver’s seat and it was costing me my peace. If I could summarize this book (and really the year, 2020) into one line, it’s this: when the world gets louder, my interior self must get quieter.
And this is where we begin the practical point of this blog: In order to achieve interior peace in our lives, we must remember that Interior peace comes first and foremost in knowing God and second in trusting in His promises. And then, we must cultivate the space in our day to still our minds and hearts so that He can speak His peace into our hearts.
While your journey in your relationship with God might look different than mine, there are some practical ways that we set the stage for this relationship to grow and then subsequently welcome His peace into our lives. This is not an exhaustive list, but let this be a good starting point.
Sit in silence for 10-15 minutes a day.
When achieved, interior peace can sustain you in the most chaotic moments, but your capacity for interior peace is like a bucket that you must first fill from the source of peace, Himself. Silence is an important backdrop for that bucket-filling. Some things you can do in that silence are as follows:
- Do a breathing exercise
- Repeat “Come, Holy Spirit” over and over again
- Simply contemplate the goodness of God
- Sit outside and allow the sounds of nature to create a space of calm
Meditate deeply on one line of Scripture
Memorize a Scripture verse to call to mind anytime you are fearful or anxious or unsettled.
Memorizing specific verses can act as a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness and love, and having a “go-to verse” in tough moments is particularly helpful in achieving interior peace. The following are some of my favorite verses:
- “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
- “Have no anxiety about anything, but … let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
- “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me…” (Psalm 23:4)
- “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
Seek out a friend or mentor to speak peace into your life whenever you need.
If you’re anything like me, you know that sometimes it’s easy to get lost inside of your own head. Having a friend or mentor you trust that can speak truth into your life is incredibly important. If you can’t think of anyone right now, pray that the Lord might reveal the right person to you who can be a great buddy on this journey of faith.
Know what steals your peace and actively say “no” to those things taking up space in your heart and mind.
This can be a person, a media source, an item of technology, or just a negative thought that you keep coming back to time and time again. Remember that we are mind, body, and soul. Sometimes the peace of our hearts can be thrown off by the imbalance of our mind and body. Be mindful of your entire health — nurturing all of your needs — and, if necessary, don’t be afraid to seek professional help via a therapist, a doctor, a dietitian, a fitness coach, etc.
I am here for you in prayer, friends! Keep seeking His peace and your experience of this world will surely be transformed by His loving and faithful heart.
Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash