To my dear sisters in Christ, I wish I had had it in my power…
Peace. We all want it. I want peace in my home, in my relationships, and above all peace in my heart – interior peace. I, perhaps like you, have walked in some hard places recently, navigating situations that are complex and with no simple answers. As the circumstances prolong and become more challenging, interior peace seems to slip further and further out of reach. And yet St. Paul’s words to us are compelling:
Let the peace of Christ control your hearts. – Colossians 3:15.
And he also invites us to believe that the peace Christ can give us transcends ALL our circumstances, no matter how complex or prolonged they may be (ref Phil 4:7)
But how? How do I make this true in my own heart and mind? What follows is a practical starting place that has had a big impact in my life.
My Interior World
Here in my interior world live two very important relationships: 1) the relationship I have with the Lord and 2) the relationship I have with myself. Now I know that the relationship I have with the Lord is THE MOST important relationship. However, there was a time in my life when my relationship with me actually became more important. Let me explain…
How I relate with me, how I perceive me, and the narrative I speak to me all day long actually has the ability to interfere with my relationship with the Lord. The way I feel about me directly impacts my willingness to open to the Lord…or to stay closed to Him. My belief or doubts about my own worthiness influence my receptivity to the Lord’s promises, love and blessing.
I can limit what becomes possible in my relationship with God through my unbelief. Mark tells the story in his gospel of Jesus returning to His hometown of Nazareth but the Nazarene’s were not receptive to Him. Mark tells us that Jesus could “do no deeds of power there” and that Jesus “was amazed at their unbelief.” (ref Mark 6:1-6). A key variable we discover in this gospel story is our belief, our faith.
Do I want the Lord to do powerful deeds in my life? Oh yes I do! My belief that His promises, His power, can and will be fulfilled in my life is crucial!
There was a time when I was like the Nazarene’s not believing that Jesus was who He said He was – to me or for me. My inner conversation was filled with the “not enough” narrative: I’m not enough, I’m too much, I shouldn’t have, I should have, I can’t, I’ll never…” And more harmful yet, was the way I projected my scarcity-mindset onto God, “God couldn’t love me after all the mistakes I’ve made, all the ways I am not enough,” “He couldn’t love me after what’s been done to me. I should be ashamed.”
With this narrative playing on repeat in my mind, God’s still small voice in my heart didn’t have a chance! Perhaps you’re there now. How can we begin to shift the conditions happening beneath the surface? How can we effectively press pause on the old tape, interrupting the cycle of lack and scarcity that can consume our thoughts?
To repeat or restate an important truth: what we focus our thoughts on leads to our emotional state which leads to our behavior and patterns of interacting. The “not enough” narrative led me to feel shame and embarrassment, even self-loathing, which led to the behaviors of isolating and withdrawing myself, sometimes physically, and most all the time, emotionally.
For me, melting the ice beneath the surface so my heart was softened and better disposed to receive our Lord’s power, truth and love began with one simple step…
Taking the First Step
Close your eyes, take a deep breath in, let out a good exhale. Ask yourself, what words would be nice for you to hear today? I ask myself, De what words would be nice for you to hear today? Breathe again. I think it would be helpful for me to hear the reminder today that I am ok. That I am enough. Breathe in and breathe out again. Write down the words that would be nice to hear today; words that would bless your heart if a friend or a loved one called today and said, hey I was thinking about you and I just want you to know ______. How would you fill in that blank?
Whatever words we would write in our blank space from day-to-day, is an affirmation that we can speak to ourselves. When we do that, we are intentionally interjecting kind words, supportive words into the internal narrative that plays on repeat. Our nervous systems calm down, our brains relax and the fight or flight response cools. And there’s a little opening. A little part of me that becomes more attuned to the voice of the Lord. It’s like turning the radio dial and moving away from harsh or agitating sounds to soothing and peaceful sounds.
And I am then more open to receive what the Lord is offering to me, first and foremost, the knowledge of His abiding presence within me.
The shower of His grace flowing into my own heart.
His love. His peace.
This was truly an essential revelation along my healing journey to see clearly the connection between the way I feel about me and speak to me and what I allow myself to receive from the Lord. His steady and loving Hand is perpetually extended to me. In my journey out of that small, dark place of unrest within me this gift of a kind word spoken to myself throughout each day became the wind in my sails guiding me out of myself and into the open arms of our Lord.
Copyright 2021, De Yarrison