Focus for April = PEACE
My goal for April was to become a more peaceful person [to experience harmony and cease striving] by spending extra time in prayer daily, relishing moments of silence, getting more sleep, decluttering my home, and overlooking minor offenses. I used a calendar to keep track of my daily progress.
1. Faith- (I) Memorize and meditate upon 3 appropriate verses per week, (II) spend at least 30 minutes in prayer daily, (III) ask God daily to fill me with His peace, and (IV) write God a letter about my anxieties.
(I) Eek… I did not do well with this first goal this month. I only spent time meditating and memorizing verses on 13 out 30 days this past month. I still read and studied the Word daily, I just dropped the ball with memorizing Scripture about peace.
(II) I spent 30 minutes in prayer on 17 out of 30 days this past month. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement in this area, as well.
(III) I did ask God for His peace every day this past month.
(IV) I never did write God a letter about my anxieties, but I tried to cast every care on Him as they came to me throughout each day.
2. Marriage– (I) Choose not to nag, argue, or nitpick John, and (II) relish moments of silence when we’re alone together.
(I) I caught myself nagging or nitpicking John on at least 3 occasions this past month (hopefully I didn’t do it subconsciously at all).
(II) I don’t think I really “relished” silence like I intended to, but I also didn’t fill up our moments of silence with meaningless babble.
3. Health- (I) Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
(I) There were only 4 nights in which I was unable to get at least 8 hours of sleep this past month. On those days following a lack of sleep I definitely noticed a difference in my countenance.
4. Homemaking- (I) Spend time decluttering my home at least once a week.
(I) I only did this once intentionally in April, probably because I’m back to working 4-5 days a week once again.
5. Interactions– (I) Reconcile with anybody as needed and (I) overlook minor offenses.
(I) I can only recall one situation in which I needed to reconcile, but I definitely experienced a lack of peace until I made things right.
(II) I think there were only 3 days in which I allowed minor “offenses” done against me to rob me of peace.
WHAT I LEARNED THIS MONTH
To be honest, I didn’t think I really needed to “work on” peace. Most people who know me would describe me as being a fairly quiet and peaceful person.
However, the very first day of April my peace was tested twice. First, a vehicle my husband and I had been borrowing during the winter months wouldn’t start for me. Then, later that day at work we were severely short-handed and things got pretty stressful. In the first situation I was able to give my worries to God and everything ended up fine. In the latter situation I didn’t have time to stop and consciously talk to God and I could have responded with more peace than I did. I’ve since improved in this area, having learned to ask God for help silently, as well as by just doing my best for His glory without growing anxious.
Of course, there was a time in my life when I did struggle with constant worry- up until my Junior year of college. Perhaps it was my perfectionism that caused me to worry so much, but God used John (my now husband who was my fiance at the time) to open my eyes to the foolishness of getting anxious about every little thing.
He had driven 14 hours to see me at college for a short weekend and because of my anxiety over not having enough time to finish a paper, I dragged him to the library with me so I could study. As we were walking to the library and I was voicing my worries, John just began to quote Scripture after Scripture about not being anxious and casting every care on the Lord. In response I said, “Yeah, yeah, I know, I know…” but something happened inside of me in that moment. It was as if a light had been turned on in my mind and God just very clearly showed me that my worrying was an affront to God’s character. Did I truly trust Him, or was I just paying lip-service? Because if I truly believed He’d be with me and help me through every situation then I wouldn’t be spending time worrying about ANYTHING.
Since then I have definitely had my moments of worry, but I’ve learned to bring my cares to God and leave them at his feet. I can recall a time when I was beginning to worry about our financial situation. Instead of dwelling on the what-ifs, I took my Bible and journal and sat outside alone for at least a half hour until I had given the situation completely over to God and felt absolute peace. I have found over the years that when I dwell on my problems, I am robbed of peace. However, God keeps His promise that if I fix my mind on Him He keeps me in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).
One day last month I had to travel to my doctor’s appointment (2.5 hr drive one way) in the rain. Driving in such conditions often makes me on edge, but I made a firm decision I was going to continually think about my memory verses and spend the time talking to God rather than allowing my mind to worry about what could happen while I was driving on slick roads. God was faithful and kept me at peace.
I found myself getting rattled over very small things on several occasions during April. Things like losing in a game of Dominion with my husband, making little mistakes at work, and having to deal with disobedient children at my CEF Good News Club. All these circumstances revealed to me that I’m not nearly as peaceful as I originally thought I was. There is a saying, “If you think you’re humble, then you’re not.” Well, I think it could be said of any of the fruits of the Spirit. “If you think you’re a peaceful person, you’re not.”
None of us have “arrived.” The Apostle Paul-of all people- told the Philippians, “Not that I have obtained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (3:13-14).
I think by the end of the month, though I hadn’t “mastered” peace, I had learned how to choose peace in the midst of stressful circumstances. It’s interesting that on the first Sunday of April my pastor had mentioned in his sermon that one choice we make could disturb our peace, while another will maintain it. I think I knew this was true intellectually, but I needed to experience it for myself. Some situations were easier than others to choose peace, but it was never once possible apart from prayer. Hence the reason why peace is a “fruit of the Spirit”.