Friday, February 21, 2014

Peace That Passes Understanding

As you may know, my grandfather passed away several weeks ago.  I wanted very much to go to the funeral- to celebrate my grandfathers life, be there for the services, and just to be with my family.  My health however prevented me from being there and I very much missed the opportunity to be with my family.  I always remember my Nanny and Poppy being together- it is sad to think that now it is just my Nanny.

I do however seem to have this unique opportunity given to me throughout my life for which I am very grateful.  I love to write- clearly.  Not just bogging but all kinds of writing- and many times I write letters to people.  Years ago when I was a sophomore in college I began a pen pal relationship with my great grandfather- my Poppa.  Honestly I do not even recall how it began- I used to visit him over the summer while he was in his nursing home and I was on my way home from work.  But then I wrote him a letter and he would write these wonderful letters back- and I remember thinking how valuable it was.  Someone in their 90s whose brain still had so much of it's original capacity- and my Poppa was a good man.  The value of this was not lost on me.

And now, over a decade later and I have begun exchanging letters with his daughter- my Nanny.  After the death of her husband of 63 years, she is exchanging letters with me just like her dad did years ago.  And again- there is so much to learn.  My Nanny is grieving- and it makes me sad.  But I will say this- my ears as well as my heart are wide open to the things that only her years on this earth can teach.  

In her grief, it all seems so simple now.  You only get one chance, she said.  You see, my grandfather passed away pretty quickly- he was relatively healthy and doing fairly well.  It was over a pretty short amount of time that a series of events took place and then he was gone.  And my grandmother grieves that.  She grieves the things she said or didn't say.  She takes blame upon her shoulders, wondering over their 63 year marriage if he KNEW that she loved him.  Because oh how she loved him.

You only get one chance, she said.  I understand what she is saying to me.  Love your husband every single day so that he knows it without a doubt.  Love your kids so much while they are little because one day you blink and they are grown and out of your life.  Love the years where you don't now how you are going to make ends meet, or why the kids are making so much noise, or how you're going to get dinner on the table before bedtime…because one day you're going to be 80 years old and the house is going to be very, very quiet.

How easy it is to not even think about it.  To not think about "one day".  But what a sad thing it would be if we didn't listen to those who went before us.  Nanny wrote something else in her last letter that stuck out very much to me.  She was encouraging me in raising my kids, but the sentence she used struck a chord in me- a sad one.  She said "raise your kids to help bring peace back into this world."  

I think about the things we see on the news.  I think about what has been happening in Kiev.  Or Venezuela.  I cannot even read the news now because there is just too much heartache in this world.  But that is too big of a scope- what about in our own households?   How many homes have lost their peace?  My grandmother admonished me to raise up my children to help restore peace- and I intend to listen to what she is saying.  I don't think anything I do will ever have any effect on what happens in Ukraine…but I know that what I do can and will have an impact on the lives of everyone my children come in contact with.

Because peace is something that starts within.  It starts within you.  And from there it is something you give and spread.  Of all the things you desire and pursue and seek after, is peace one of them?  And yet peace is the most valuable.  Peace is what gets inside your very soul.  Peace is what keeps you steady in hard times, focused in confused times, calm in shaky times, and joyful in sad times.  It will hold you when you are falling, direct you when you are failing, and steady you when you are faltering.  It is that valuable.

How do I get peace?  How will I give my kids peace?  

Almost every day I give my kids peace when I sit with them and pray.  When I open the Word of God and read it to them.  When I sing songs of worship to them and talk about the goodness of God.  When I truly repent and set my heart right with God.  You do those things- you love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you seek Him daily and you watch as your very being is filled with an untouchable peace.  But let this be a warning: All the things that you chase after, all the things you run so very hard after will ROB you of your peace.  They will strip you inside of anything of value and when the times comes that you need to reach inside for something of substance you will realize, sadly, that you have nothing within you to hold on to.  Because the things that you spent your time and your energy and your money chasing after have no real worth.  And that my friend is a sad, sad day.  

Yes this is all I ever talk about.  If there were anything else that really mattered trust me, I would write about it.  But there isn't.  Everything else falls under this umbrella.  When I got sick and my whole world fell apart there was one thing that remained UNTOUCHABLE- my peace.  My home, my marriage, my family, my children- we remain intact.  And that is because we love our God and we have chosen to seek Him- ONLY Him- and not the things of this world.  

So yes Nanny, I have heard you.  I will do my best to raise my kids with peace.  To love the Lord and to love those around them.  To treat people with kindness and with love.  To have respect for their elders and their authorities.  To stand up for those who cannot defend themselves.  That if my children see someone in need they would do what they can to meet that need.  That my children would be compassionate, always willing to give and help another.  That my children would be the first to volunteer for a worthy cause and that they would never place material possessions above people.  That they would be quick to forgive and slow to anger.  That they would be people who spread peace.

Maybe this small step taken by many can do something about the state this world is in.  Because we no longer live in a peaceful place- and that is because people are no longer at peace with themselves.  Please- stop running.  Stop fighting yourself.  Stop going a thousand miles per hour to escape the one thing you can't escape- the state of your soul.  Stop running, and get some peace in your life.
If feels so good to finally be at rest.

And maybe the world will know a little rest for once too.  It could sure use it.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…" Matthew 11:28 

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