So, actually what does peace really mean?
I get frustrated thinking about the number of times I've heard myself or others say a statement like "I just don't feel peace here". Now, here me out.. am I saying peace is the problem? Absolutely not. Having peace is certainly good. We all naturally want to be in a state where we feel peace. We desire it in our human nature.
However, I see how fixated I'll get on the term "peace". Growing up as a Catholic Christian I've heard it plenty. But that's also why I can see that it can be problematic especially if we're always just searching for peace and clinging to that feeling. In some of my experiences I've almost used this as an excuse to just run away from any present anxiety in the midst of my reality and that has definitely not been helpful.
So let me ask, do you think peace is truly just a feeling?
Can peace and anxiety co-exist?
The common myth is that if you feel good about something, it's obviously peace, right? If you question anything, it's automatically off right? In a state of complete peace there could never possibly be room for anxious energy, fear or anxiety, right? Ooh, dear am I not a fan of these myths.
As much as I'd love to believe peace is just a feeling and no anxiety exists in a state of peace I'd just be lying to myself. I don't want to lie to myself. I've done that before and it just hurts worse.
I have been notorious in the past for actually talking myself out of things because I claimed "I didn't have peace", but really I was just anxious in the unknown and ready to catch my flight out of there. Some common examples below:
Good opportunity comes up - automatically goes to, "I'm not sure, I just don't have any peace here." (when in reality I was just questioning my abilities and afraid of what could be, maybe even rejection.)
Always looking for the Lord to make a decision for me... (I can't tell you how many times I've been like "Lord, it's on you, you can figure it out. I'll just be here. You tell me what decision to make.")
Dating - if I had a penny for every time I have heard men/women stop dating because they didn't have peace I'd be rich or I would at least have good side hustle money. (We're joking ourselves if the only reason we choose not to pursue someone is because we don't feel peace. There is a reason and it's not just peace. Let's please stop creating more wounds here.)
The feeling of peace can be so easily misled and have us sometimes questioning our decisions and discernment. Just a reminder that a state of peace should not be boiled down to just a feeling.
I like to think of peace as a state of accepting exactly where we are at and pressing right into that. We can have peace without a dopamine rush and picture perfect moments to follow. It irks me when peace is described as a feeling, because ultimately we know the reality that feelings are fleeting. & unfortunately, I think we haven't always done the best job in faith communities getting to understand what true peace is. We've fallen into that trap of believing it is only a feeling a little too often, or at least from where I'm sitting I know I've been guilty of this.
So let's be careful about how we throw out "I don't have peace" to justify our free will and decisions.
If we don't want a situation, something or someone we can just be honest and say that.
The constant "I don't have peace here" really is not serving the people we communicate that with.
We're built with a free will, intellect and an ability to make and voice those decisions. I think sometimes we actually forget this in discernment. Whether that be a change in job, change of major, dating, moving (or any of those other life decisions) we're quick to look for signs and feelings of peace without pressing in. & if we don't get that feeling of peace instantly our brains tend to go to "this must not be it." I think we can actually even tend to give up easier this way.
Personally, I can't discern just clinging to the feeling of peace. I did this for so long in my prayer life and I was constantly chasing. It really just created a space where I'd be tempted to look for signs that God was telling me to do or not to do something. It would drive me crazy. When in fact I often times would forget I have free will to make the decisions I desire to make.
If we're not experiencing peace, let's take a moment and ask ourselves why. Let's journal about it, let's look at the reasons. Let's see what's stirring. Let's not be afraid to seek counsel or go to a spiritual director. There are healthy ways to do this and evaluate this before automatically shutting down opportunities in our lives. Maybe instead of questioning if something is bringing us peace or not, let's rest in what makes us feel fully alive. Let's choose to be around the people that we can feel fully alive with. It's actually okay to not have the answer or make a decision in the unknown.. I think that's simply just apart of life. It's okay to feel desolation in prayer (I've had plenty of that) and not see a direct sign linking you to a certain thing.
It really will be okay I promise. It's time for us to stop reading between every line here.