What to do on the hard days

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Some days start out pretty hard.

Well, not hard compared to the friend who is battling cancer, or the neighbor who just lost their job.

And not hard compared to the folks who don’t have enough to eat or the ones on the other side of the world who are being kidnapped and murdered by that terrorist group.

Not that kind of hard.

But hard to you, because there are just things that are difficult in the day to day where you are actually living. You know, with the kids who keep fighting and that one room you had resolved you would for sure finally clean today but for the life of you, you can’t seem to make any progress…on anything.

Because soon as you get to work, someone gets whacked with a toy truck and another gets into the treats in the pantry and someone just made a big ole mess without cleaning up the first one and there are moments when you’d like to yell or at the very least, sit in the floor and cry, but you have to keep going. And deep down, you desperately want to keep loving and bring some peace to all this pandemonium.

There are certain struggles in life that we all face, no matter how big or small or obscure or great we are.

We all struggle for peace.

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When my day starts out hard, and keeps being hard, there are some things I do to cultivate peace.
For one thing, I go slow.

Now, I don’t mean that I creep along at a snail’s pace. I just mean that instead of running faster and trying harder, I pause and take some deep breaths and I begin to pray. I pay attention not just to what’s going on around me, but what’s going on inside of me.

It goes something like this:

Kids are fighting. Again. The house is a wreck. Again. I’m worried about tomorrow. Again.

Am I freaking out, yet?

Okay. Wait. Go slow.

Pray.

Walk in harmony with the person of Peace.

Pay attention to the Presence of Jesus.

Slow it down.

He is here with me.

Talk to Him.

Deep breaths.

Hold the wailing kids. Shhh. Rock back and forth. Back and forth.

This is Jesus in me. Doing the comforting. See how He quiets us down?

Just keep moving now. But, slow.

Do the next thing.

Walk with Him here.

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Sometimes the craziness doesn’t relent for a bit. Kids still yell. The phone rings. The noodles need stirred. Food gets spilled.

But, I keep practicing this. Going slow. Paying attention to the God here with me. What is He teaching me? Just walk with Him. One step. Now another.

Sooner or later, without me even knowing it, love is happening in this place. Kids are learning what it means to take care of each other. (And hopefully this will translate into them caring for the world.)

The messes are getting cleaned up. And isn’t this the gospel story, repeated every day as I redeem this place? God’s Kingdom coming? All that is lovely and pure and noble and right and good coming here to unravel the topsi-turviness?

Eventually things do quiet down again. But peace isn’t just the absence of noise. It’s the quality of life one carries around on the inside during the chaos.

It’s the ability to stay synced during the discord.

It’s not forgetting about God. Not letting go of Him, but intentionally tuning into Him–Peace Himself.

And as we practice this, life feels less confusing and we stop operating out of panic. Instead our soul (and the souls around us) are nurtured and tended to gently. Life flourishes. Peace prevails.

In going slow.

God, the Master, The Holy of Israel,
    has this solemn counsel:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me
    and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
    in complete dependence on me—

(Isaiah 30:15a The Message)

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