Friday, September 25, 2020

Finding Peace in the Chaos: A Note from Me To You

How much coffee is "too much" coffee? Seriously. I'm asking for a friend...
Thanks to the ridiculous circumstances of 2020, you can find me drinking one cup of joe after another from dawn until late afternoon. Hey - whatever works, right? While caffeine is obviously my drug of choice, what other so-called "drugs" have been helping us survive this crazy year? I can think of a few: Netflix, DoorDash, crafting, exercise (or lack thereof), DisneyPlus, and for many, even alcohol. There's a case to be made that many coping mechanisms that have been running amok since March are fairly unhealthy, whether it's drinking too much or replaying episodes of Tiger King over and over (Okay, I admit that I binge-watched that show, too!). 

Lately I have found myself engaged in a whole new type of entertainment: podcasts! I love listening to podcasts, most of which I can listen to endlessly on Spotify thanks to my monthly membership fee. I've really been enjoying starting my day by listening to a sermon while I make breakfast for my daughter, and in the afternoons (or whenever I get in the car to drive anywhere, because going leaving the house is a minimum 25-minute drive right off the bat), I've been listening to podcasts that cover national and world news. I love being able to simply listen. It gives my overworked eyes a much-needed rest, and it's healthier, in my opinion, than watching television for hours on end. That being said, if anyone has any podcast recommendations for me, please let me know. I'm really getting into the whole podcast scene! (I'm very late to the party) 

For me, 2020 has become a great example of how getting worried and overwhelmed can really separate me from the peace and perfection of God. I am so quick to be anxious or to get angry about something, but centering myself on His Word is a gentle but firm reminder that I am not in control. Only He who sits on the throne of heaven is. Jesus is not contained nor is He in any way affected by human actions, reactions, or timelines. When I take a step back from my own life and realize that every good and perfect thing is from above, and that all of the chaos here is borne from despair and godlessness, I am optimistically turned back to the truth: my purpose on Earth is not to be afraid or to be angry. My purpose is to bring Glory to God in every way I can, and scripture is very clear that one of the best ways to do that is through obedience through trials and steadfastness in faith during chaos. God is not a God of confusion or disorder - he is a God of justice and righteousness (Isaiah 30:18 and 1 Cor 14:33). Human emotions or immorality cannot ever have an effect on the ultimate outcome of this world, and so while COVID has been a time of confusion, and while the rioting and looting in the streets have been an example of lawlessness and godlessness in our society, I have no fear. God is in control, and how joyful my life is knowing that my eternal future is secured forever! 

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love history. Looking back on history is a great way to remind yourself that the uncertainty and unrest we face in this country today is nothing new. Many periods of chaotic violence have unfolded in the past, and now as then, our fate rests in the hands of God alone. I love this verse: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14). While the 24-hour news cycle focuses solely on the negativity in the world, I encourage you to focus on the positive. Christ is the solution to a very worldly problem: sin! If your focus lies anywhere other than in Him, you will be swept into a temporal existence in which the ups and downs of your life are dominated by immediate emotion and outsider influence. Rooting yourself in the truth of the Bible and arming yourself with the armor of God is a wonderful way to step out the door every day and prepare yourself for the acidity and vitriolic hatred that seems to permeate every level of society, whether it is on social media or on the streets of Kenosha, Washington. 

I write these words of encouragement to you today not because I am some of kind of theological authority or because I have it all figured out. Quite the opposite, in fact! What it comes down to is this: COVID19 has actually been a blessing to me, because it has forced me to slow down, reset, and reconnect with Jesus Christ. I have been able to reevaluate what kind of a woman, wife, and mother I want to be, and I gotta say, I'm so much happier in my day-to-day life when I am constantly being re-centered on the Word. 

To add to this, let me also bring up some interesting things that have happened to me lately in regard to personal desires or likes. In the past, I've talked a lot about keeping a positive mindset, setting goals, and motivating yourself to get things done. I still stand behind that and believe that a measure of self-discipline is very admirable. That being said, what you fill your mind with will affect not only your attitude, but your view of the world. I have given up some things in the past few months that I felt were only bogging me down; things like scary movies or music that might glorify violence. None of these things are pleasing to God nor do they bring Glory to Him. I have noticed that when I throw negative things or darker, worldly-laced things out of my life, that I have a better attitude, a better mindset, and a much more solid worldview. When I look at a headline or see a video on social media about another police officer being executed on the streets, having a headspace that allows me to process these things from a Biblical perspective is incredibly healing. I have compassion for the people who are suffering and I have a desire for righteous justice. I tend to desire the things that Jesus desires, and that is because I am focusing my willpower and my attention on the Bible, which feeds my heart, which then spills out into my everyday life, bringing not only peace to myself but adding peace to my family. I certainly don't want my daughter to grow up observing her mother frazzled and overwhelmed by the craziness of the world. What kind of an example would that set? 

Parenthood is another element of my life that changed me. When you become a parent, the desire to nurture the small life that has been placed in your home is overwhelming. You want to do the right things and raise your children on the right path, and it can be so easy to be swept up in things that bear no fruit in your household. Anger, resentment, hate-fueled politics, and inflammatory rhetoric from any source is obscenely detrimental to raising children. I want my child to grow up in a household that acknowledges God's supreme control over all things. I want my child to grow up to respect everyone, from people to property. I want my child to understand who really calls the shots: it's not Satan, although he prowls this world like a lion, waiting to devour, according to the Bible (1 Peter 5:8). I want my child to understand the difference between right and wrong, and good versus evil. There is no gray area. There is God's way, and then there is sin. That is the bottom line. As Christians, we are called to live holy lives (1 Peter 2:9), set apart from the ways of the world. We are not to be of the world, but rather, in it. I love this verse: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:13-16). Christians are not supposed to be like everybody else. Frankly, Christianity is rarely ever popular. Following Jesus requires a denial of one's self and man's inherently sinful nature bucks intensely against that idea. It is a day-to-day struggle, and yet the reward is eternal. 

All of this to say, I want to encourage you to fix your eyes on things above. I realize that not all of my readers are Christians or even religious, but this has been something that has been on my heart. I have spent the last near-decade writing about rebels and fighters and people who GET THINGS DONE. I love a fighter and a good guy, and I love even more when people stand up against evil and come out victorious. The truth is, on Earth, the good guys don't always win, but that's okay. In the end, we will all stand before the judgement throne of God and answer for our sins, and I pray that your name will be written in the Book of Life on that day. 

Have a wonderful weekend, folks, and remember: I'm open to podcast suggestions and book recommendations! 

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