July began with a lot of uncertainty for me. Plans that I had carefully crafted unraveled and my expectations for the summer were dashed. There were times I faltered and wondered if I had chosen the right path. Imposter syndrome reared it's ugly head and pointed at all the things that have gone wrong over the past three years. And yet, I couldn't embrace my doubts. Yes, they were there and they made their opinions known, but those pesky thoughts in my head couldn't shake what I knew deep in my soul. This is my path.
They say when God closes a door, He opens another. These past few months, He's been teaching me to follow His peace instead of reacting to fear and doubt. That's a hard thing to do some days. My mind can really run full steam ahead with the worse case scenario. These thoughts then cause fear and anxiety to squeeze the breath out of my lungs and hope from my heart. If I give into the thoughts, they do not save me, encourage me or give me strength. Instead, they cause panic, destroy my ability to see reality for what it is and incapacitate my ability to be proactive.
Fear is reactive. Fear steals hope and peace. Fear is a liar.
Do our fears come true sometimes? Yes. But only sometimes. We should treat them as the exception, not the rule. When we walk in fear, we begin walking a dark, self-fulfilling prophecy. We begin looking for reasons to validate our fear instead of leaning into hope. Walking in fear constantly places us on a high beam a thousand feet in the air with no safety net. It destroys our souls, our minds, and our bodies. It sows distrust and animosity in relationships. Fear manipulates us to cower under the disguise of staying safe. Living in fear is not living.
Peace isn't as loud as fear. It is still and quiet. Instead of chaotic thoughts, it's a steady knowing that goes deep down into the center of our being. Peace allows us to breathe. It gives us a horizon to look at in the midst of life's storms. When we focus on peace instead of fear, our storms cease to hold their power over us.
Peace requires that we trust. For me, that trust is in my relationship with Jesus. You see, I know me and I know that I will mess things up if I put my trust in me. Yes, I can be organized and careful and do most things "right". However, I am also very aware of my shortcomings and weaknesses. I know that there are some things about myself that I can't fix, even if I had three lifetimes to do it.
Peace requires us to listen to truth. We all have a part of us that recognizes truth when we encounter it, even if we don't like it. And when we don't, that's when we need to listen all the more. Truth, even hard truth, sets us free. Peace without truth is an illusion. It's a patch job that is guaranteed to bust.
Walking in peace takes practice. It's easy to hear the loud voice of fear. We must make a concentrated effort to push fear aside, quiet ourselves and look for peace as we evaluate our situation. Sometimes the answer is obvious, sometimes it's not. There are times when peace simply says, "Wait," and other times when peace takes an unusual turn. The more we learn to look for peace, even if it means making hard decisions, the less grip fear has on us.
I know there will be hard things yet to come in my future. I know fear will keep trying to eat away at my mind when they do come. But I also know that I am not alone. I walk with the God of Peace. He's never let me down and even when the truth of my situation was difficult, His peace brought me through it all.
Today I want to encourage you: walk in peace.