I sit with a group of friends in my living room, my skin warmed by the heat of the little fireplace next to me. It is a fake, electric fireplace without real flames; it’s imitation logs glow orange-red into the quietness of an evening punctuated by frequent laughter.
My face is smiling, my heart is open, I am happy- and yet hidden deep inside my spirit is the ever-present drummer’s dance, pounding in line with my heart’s ever-present rhythmic beating. A dance of fear- of not being enough, not being accepted, not being worthy.
I sip hot tea as I sit so quietly in my broken body that cannot walk without a walker and is often in a wheelchair. But In my spirit I run and run and run until I can run no more. I run until I finally remember peace.
Remember the peace that has come at a hard-won cost for me. Remember that peace is always a choice, joy is always an option, and love is the way I want to live my life. To live each day as I can, knowing that I am not perfect and that that is okay. To live the moments of my life in gratitude, with a heart that embraces those God brings across my pathway.
To remember that we are all, every one of us, hurt in some way inside, and that when I try to hide my own hurt with smiles, I not only deny my truth, but create an artificial environment for those around me.
Because true peace doesn’t mean perfection. It doesn’t mean saying that everything is alright all the time- it means embracing our wholeness in all our broken humanity. And also embracing the healing too that comes into our lives.
It means being real. It means accepting others, and filling the world around us with love.
It means accepting with an open heart that most of those around us also hurt in some way- and creating an environment of acceptance.
And so, I take a deep breath, and open my heart, with all its wounds and scars and brokenness. I smile and laugh- and this time it is real. I relax my shoulders, let that little electric fireplace bring genuine warmth far past my skin and all the way down through me to the person I really am inside.
And then. Then the warmth brings love, which pours inside me, mingles through my spirit. I thank God for the moment, for life and love and friends who share an evening of laughter.
What does peace mean for you?
I used to believe that peace meant perfection. The brightest smile, the happiest spirit, a life infused with joy. No cracks showing.
I took me a long time to learn that true peace means embracing with loves both our whole selves- and those around us. Peace means admitting our brokenness, feeling it, knowing it. It also means relinquishing that brokenness- allowing heat and light and warmth and love to flow into the cracks in our souls.
Like molten light and red lava warmth, when we open our spirits, in flows healing. And the shatteredness of hurt and cracks can come together. In fact, it is through those cracks that healing best flows into our spirits. When we hold our spirits tightly in perfectionism, we close off ourselves to God’s healing flowing in. When we open ourselves, through those cracks will flow that lava of love and peace and joy.
Peace means accepting those around us where they are at. Accepting them with love, embracing them with a welcoming and open heart. It means building a life where people feel both safe. Safe to be themselves as they are, with all the pretenses brushed aside. Safe to know that imperfection is okay- in fact it is welcomed, because it is the story of our shared humanity.
It is from our imperfections that we grow, learn, and become more centered in the trueness of who we are and begin to live lives of healing, love, and true peace and joy.