What does peace look like to you?
If we observe the way the news and social media are treating our current global outbreak we might think it is hidden somewhere in the midst of more information. Checking my news apps has become a habit to the point of giving me a sore thumb.
There are plenty of elements to being at ease with a terrifying situation. The first hurdle always seems to be what we control. If I know part of a solution is in my hands, I tend to calm down. That too can be a little misleading because control may be elusive. It can be like buying all the toilet paper when what you really need is fruits and vegetables in the fridge.
And there is always someone to blame when you feel troubled. It is a survival instinct to look further and further outside yourself to find a responsible party for your inner feelings. This rule can be applied to many things in our social life, but something like a pandemic brings it much closer to the surface. It reminds me of a certain prominent world leader referring to the covid-19 outbreak as the ‘Chinese virus’. That is just wrong on so many levels.
Then there is the ‘dooms day’ effect. Feeling that everything is going to hell in a handbasket and there is nothing we can do, so just say screw it and wait for it all to end. This giving up feeling is different for everyone and shows itself in many ways. There are many miles of difference between knowing you do not have control over outcomes and just plain giving up.
So being at peace is a mixture of all these things. I personally think God has made us to gravitate towards peace amidst the storm, but we also want it the way we want it. Here are a few things I try to practice when the world becomes a scary place, as a leader and as an individual:
- What do I actually know? Whatever is worrying me may be filled with lies, speculations, and misinformation. So I make note of what I actually know. Maybe I need to write those things down so I can come back to them.
- What can I actually do? Maybe I need to take stock of what is actually in my hand and is a positive action for relief of the unrest. Not an impulsive action but one based on what will help. That may be as simple as taking out the garbage, or emailing a friend, or making a list of what needs to get done today.
- What is out of my control? This can feel debilitating if you already feel out of control, but it may be a good thing to announce out loud. I have come to a place more than a few times where I realized I was stressing and babbling about something that was completely out of my hands. Once I announced that it was not mine, I felt a weight lift.
- How will I rest? Do you have a place of peace? You want your mind to be a place of peace, but that may happen immediately because of where you are standing. If you are lying in bed staring at prognostications on Twitter at 2:00AM you are not standing in peace. Imagine a spot, a location, a memory, and stand in it. Look around, observe what it means to be in control of that space and that setting.
- Will you pray? Yes, I may get preachy here, but I do believe in prayer. Prayer is more about the pray-er than it is about changing things. I stand by that. Even further, it is about handing off the discord in your own life, and admitting you cannot change everything. If you have a statement, a verse, or even a request you cannot let go of, sit with it during the day.
I hope this helps you, and how you speak into the lives of those around you. If you have more to add to the list, share away!
I look forward to hearing from you!