Wednesday, August 7, 2013

One Thing I Don't Understand...Peace

There are many things that I don't understand.  There are things that I can read about and even experience, but never truly grasp.  Some concepts I cannot grasp are unconditional love, grace, mercy, and peace.  Peace is what I want to focus on right now.

There have been so many times in my life where I have felt frantic or panicked, times where doubt or shame was overwhelming, times when pain has been so deep and real that I was sure I wouldn't survive.  Amazingly, all of these times have been accompanied by peace. 

If you've read much of what I've written, you know I love the book of Philippians.  I have read it so much that I'm surprised I don't have it committed to memory yet.  A great passage is in chapter 4, verses 4-7: "Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus".  Paul says it right...the peace of God that transcends all understanding.  Amen...I don't understand the peace God gives.

I can remember the first time I felt unexplainable peace.  I was very young.  I am the eldest of 4 kids, and I am so grateful that God blessed me with that role in life.  Growing up, my siblings were my best friends.  I was born a "little Mama" and naturally fell into the habit of helping my parents take care of my younger siblings.  My youngest brother, Timothy, was born with a myriad of health concerns.  His infancy was one hospital visit after another.  But, the distinct memory I have was when he was around 4 years old.  I was 10 years old and my sister and I were at sewing class in the fellowship hall at Newfound Baptist Church.  (I'll have to tell you more about me being in a sewing class.  Basically, my sister was the star, and I was told by the sweetest lady on the planet that it was a better use of my time to climb trees with the boys than to try and sew...).  I remember the phone ringing in the church's kitchen and the aforementioned sweet lady called my sister and me over.  She told me that our baby brother was back in the hospital with Scarlet Fever.  (You should know that I had watched Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea about 30 times by the time I was knowledge of Scarlet Fever came from Gilbert nearly dying from it in the movie!).  I remember instantly thinking that my brother was going to die.  Our sweet teacher prayed with us and over my brother.  I remember a feeling sweet peace flood my body from head to toe.  I just knew that everything was going to be ok and that God was holding Timothy in His hands.  In this instance, God's answer was the healing of my wonderful baby brother.

One of my dream's in life was to have 4 children.  I am a firm believer in life at conception.  That being said, I did have 4 children.  When I was carrying Titus, he was a twin, and I lost the twin in the first trimester.  This happened in a time in my life where I was greatly supported by the church I attended as well as incredible friends (Shane and Kelley Cooke) and when I lived far away from my family.  The loss of this child was painful, but I made it through the loss, I believe, because I was so well taken care of by Kelley. 

I lost another baby when Titus was almost 2 and Cecely was 4.  During this season, our family life was chaotic and unsettled at best.  Everyone in my family was dealing with major things. I didn't have a strong support system of friends or church because we had not been in the area very long.  My parents, siblings, and high school friend, Stefanie, helped as they could, but again, everyone was facing giants at that time.  I felt so isolated.  I was at the deepest, darkest pit I had ever faced.  I could not understand why God would allow another loss.  At this time, my marriage was in great turmoil, and I had placed hope on this baby to restore things.  I felt like I was being pulled deeper and deeper into a hopeless abyss.  I can remember going into our kitchen in the middle of the night.  (I have been a night owl since I was 16...sleep has been elusive since that time).  I had been prescribed pain medicine and sleeping pills during the miscarriage.  I can vividly see me standing barefoot in the kitchen in my faded Liberty University Sweatshirt and paint-covered gray shorts.  I can remember looking at Cecely and Titus' artwork that covered the white kitchen cabinets.  I can remember the pound of ground turkey defrosting in the sink and all the fixings for tacos laid out on the counter for the next night's dinner.  I remember dumping out both bottles of pills and pouring a glass of water.  I remember thinking "This is it.  I can't hurt anymore.  I'm not strong enough to deal with this pain.  I have nothing.  I am nothing."  Looking back, I know that was the enemy trying to take me.  I also know that a spiritual battle was in full force around me.  I remember scooping up a handful of the pills, then throwing them in the sink.  I fell to the kitchen floor and sobbed.  I cried out to God and asked for His help.  In my heart of hearts, I knew I was blessed.  I knew He had given me all the wonderful things I had.  I knew he had called me to be a Mama, and while I may have lost 2 children, I had 2 sweet little ones who needed me.  I laid in the kitchen floor for what felt like hours.  I talked with God as if He were physically sitting on the floor next to me.  I poured out my hurt, my pain, my anger, my frustration.  I begged for His forgiveness, His healing, and His peace.  Oh, God is good.  This time, I felt the peace that I do not understand start in my heart and spread to the rest of me.  You know when you are really cold and you take that first sip of hot chocolate or coffee and it warms your insides up?  That's what this peace felt like.  I did not understand it, but I knew it was a beautiful gift from the One who made me and who loved me.

I still face moments where I panic or when worry tries to take over my heart and mind.  There are instances where I still weep or yell or freak out.  There are situations that I can't fix or can't really even help.  My human tendency is to worry.  I am so thankful for God's faithfulness.  I am so thankful for His reminders of His sovereignty.  I am so grateful for friends who I can call or text when I hit those low points.  I am so grateful for the Bible, God's Word to us that is filled with the knowledge we need.  Today, when I felt worry taking over...I cried a little (or a lot, depending on who you ask) and then I broke out my worn Bible.  I flipped to Philippians and read the entire book.  "...the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" jumped off the page at me.  I prayed for His peace, and I felt it come over me like a warm blanket right out of the dryer.  While I still worry, I am trying with all I have to turn that anxiety over to God.  I am learning, again, that I need to trust Him completely.  While I am still human and mess up repeatedly, He is ready and willing to teach me these life lessons.  Peace is a gift that I cannot comprehend, but I am eternally grateful for it!

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