I’m giving up peace for Lent. Mmm hmm, yes I am.
As the Lenten season began last week, I started to think about what would helpful for me to give up… and what to take up in its place. I thought about the things I habitually turn to in order to comfort myself and relieve stress. Sweets. Novels. Tea (please, God, don’t make me give up tea). But nothing seemed to stick. As I searched my heart and sought the heart of God, my thoughts took a different turn.
God took me a little deeper into my heart… and my sin. I realize that I have a habit that is much more ugly than turning to a novel at nap time. Here it is: I habitually, obsessively, fearfully, and compulsively try to create peace.
Sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? Sometimes it is. God has given me a love for peace and a gift for encouraging it. But I often take it far beyond the love of a good thing and rather than accepting peace as a gift from God, I try to manufacture it on my own. And my version is a cheap substitute, believe me.
I’ve seen this recently as our home and family life has become a little more chaotic. As we’ve transitioned back into foster care, I’m trying to help a little toddler get used to our home again as well as convince my 3-year-old that his life has not come to an end because he now has to share his toys. With 2 toddlers and 2 teenagers there are moments that are reality-TV-show-worthy. It’s a little bit nutty.
One of my kids said to me recently, “Our home isn’t peaceful anymore.” Kids are crying, floors are messy, dinner is late, mom is tired. The comment cut to my heart. Deeper than it should have. I took it personally. If I see it as my mission in life to create peace, I just got a failing grade.
Frantically trying to create peace looks like trying to hush up the toddlers so they don’t bother anyone. Trying to get a good dinner on the table so it won’t look like my standards have slipped. Trying to get a lot of work done around the house so that no one complains of the mess. Trying not to ask for help so that no one becomes bitter at the intrusion. Trying, trying, trying.
So I’m giving it up. I’m giving up trying to create peace because the ugly truth is that my compulsion is motivated by fear. Not love. I’m not trying to create peace out of love for my family. I’m trying to create peace out of fear of their disapproval.
I’m going to give up my own cheap, flimsy, exhausting attempts at creating peace for Lent and take up the real thing instead. The truth is, God is the only one who can create peace. In fact, He himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). Instead of trying to create it, I’m going to try to receive it. Then maybe I will have something authentic to share with the people around me.
I’m expecting it to be hard. This means that when my husband comes home from work, babies might be crying. Dinner might be sandwiches. A teenager might have to do his own laundry. But Mama might just be peaceful because she’s leaning into Jesus, trusting him to be the peace we all need.
I’m also expecting it to be good… for everyone. Because at the end of the day, my family doesn’t need to depend on me for peace. They need to depend on the Lord. And I need to show them how.
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