3 Steps to BE the peace and joy
Back before I had children, I was in a ladies Bible Study and one of the older women (who was in the thick of child-rearing and preparing her teens to go be young women of faith living on their own) regularly prayed that she would have a gentle and quiet spirit.
I didn’t really understand that desire at the time. I interpreted it to mean that she would be soft-spoken and maybe soft-hearted with her children.
But, in this season of my life, and with everything happening in our nation and world, I see that request in a different light.
I see the request for a gentle and quiet spirit as one of desiring unity and peace rather than one considering the volume that we’re speaking.
In my reading this morning, the main verse was Isaiah 55:10-13.
The verses that really struck me were a couple in the middle. In verse 11 and the beginning of verse 12, God is speaking and says,
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth:
it will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.”
So, God’s word sends us out in joy and leads us in peace!
We don’t have to argue our side or try to win people over to it. We can choose to have joyful conversations about hard things but we should always be mindful that the goal is never to win...the goal is to always point people to Christ.
Romans 12:18 is even more clear on this point, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
As much as I constantly remind myself to Choose Joy, I also have an obligation to remind myself to Choose Peace.
One way that I’ve found to have peace during the midst of difficult conversations is to really LISTEN to what other people are saying. Often both people can agree on the issue and on the challenges, the disagreements most often come when we discuss how the solutions should occur. But it is easy to focus on the projected solution as the main point rather than the actual issue.
Another way to find peace during difficult conversations is before you start talking to someone who you know has different views, PRAY for the conversation. Pray for peace, ask God to give you a quiet and gentle spirit so you can hear what they are saying. Invite a conversation rather than an argument. Stephen Covey made the “Seek first to understand and then to be understood” famous but it’s also biblical. Seek to understand why someone feels strongly about their point of view, keep asking questions out of curiosity (not interrogation) until you understand. Then offer to share your opinion/experience/side that maybe they hadn’t considered.
Finally, TUNE OUT if needed. I have many, many friends who are choosing to take a social media fast during this season. It’s too contentious, too distracting, too difficult to live at peace, so they’re removing themselves from one of the hotbeds of sharing exteme views. If you tend to use Facebook on your laptop or desktop, and primarily use it for business or to participate in Groups, you can install a Chrome extension called News Feed Eradicator and get a motivational message rather than your newsfeed. Then it’s easy to jump into your groups, check your business page, etc. without having your newsfeed distract you.
Choose to be the Peace and Joy today.