Peace has been slow coming.
I spent much of my life feeling like some frenzied juggler. Like there were so many sides of me and so many roles to full and so many people to appease that I somehow got lost in the maelstrom. It happens to a lot of us, I think.
I have learned that I did not seem that way. People told me, as they tell me now, that I had a calming influence. But inside it was something different. My brain was always in overdrive until I hit the wall. Until I became overwhelmed, and shut down.
I lived by a mantra my mother instilled in me. “Never let them see you sweat.” I doubt she meant it the way I ended up internalizing it. But internalize it I did and it became, truly, my mantra. I held in the wild storms in my head and plowed through whatever came my way. It was, I believed, what was expected of me. People depended on me. Things would come apart if I did.
Of course, that was a lie.
I came undone. I barely functioned for a couple of years. Somehow managing work but the rest of me running on radar. And guess what? The world did not end. Not one bit. Oh, a few people had to pick up some slack. A few things went undone. But the world around us is an amazing resilient place. It didn’t need me after all. Things re-arranged themselves.
Because things do.
We are both more powerful and less important than we think we are. We have immense power to do good or to harm. I have seen people who feel saved or transformed by another’s kindness and love. And I have seen people torn down by the cruelty and abuse and neglect of others. We all have seen it.
So I am not saying we have no value. What I AM saying is that it’s OK to disappear for a time. Or to step back. To heal. Or to grow. Or to simply take the time to ponder without a million other people telling us what to do.
People like to tell us what to do. Especially the broken. The angry. The hurt. They are filled with a negative passion that rarely builds others up, but only tear people down. I don’t care who you are or what you are, there are people around us who will tear at us and seek to break us into pieces and remind us of our flaws with fire and brimstone.
When I was in a place of juggling. I felt it was my job to make everything right. It was my job to be perfect and if people ripped into me, I reacted like the small boy I had been when my alcoholic father tore into me.
In a way, coming undone was the best thing that ever happened to me, even if it did not see it at the time.
It caused me to look at myself, what I had become, all my flaws and broken places, as well as the good stuff. And there was plenty of both. Still is.
For me, it has become freeing to own my flaws, to own my weaknesses, to be able to admit I can do this and can’t do that. To share myself. Today, I make decisions slowly because snap decisions, what I thought I had to do, have almost always turned out to be poor ones. Today, I say “no” sometimes. Today, I admit my depression. Today you can attack me and I still hurt, but in the end, I can let it roll over me. I can note what is true (and at times it is.) and what is not.
I am at peace with my imperfections. I have accepted my weaknesses. I can deal with the attacks and am OK with them.
I don’t have a lot of rules in my life. I never imposed a lot of rules on my kids. Instead, I try to live within a few principles. “Do your best.” “Be kind.” “Be still” (Stolen from my favorite bible verse, Psalm 46:10. – “Be still and know that I am God. ). The whole list is probably less than a dozen things. But of all of them, the most important one, I have discovered, is to be still.
When things get too crazy, I stop.
Ok, I keep the day to day going. But I make myself stop all the mind-dervish madcap thinking. A lot of the dumb stuff we fill life with, I set aside. I go to the ocean and stare at the horizon. I climb the quarry and sit. I pray. I meditate. It is amazing how much time we spend in our lives we spend spinning our mental wheels, when stopping is far more productive.
Stopping allows the dust to settle. It allows the pieces to fall into place. It helps us sort other people’s truths from our own. It shows us that there is something greater than us at work, and allows us to see how benevolent that something greater is. It helps us give grace to others and more importantly, to ourselves.
It has not come easy, this peace. It has taken a lot of false starts, a lot of lapses, a lot of stumbling. And the stumbling still continues. People don’t understand stopping. People don’t understand the power of quiet. It makes them unconfortable. Heck, sometimes it makes us uncomfortable too.
Truth is found there. God is found there. Our truest self is found there.
And that my friends, is power. That my friends, is where peace is found. In the quiet. Never in the noise. Never, ever in the noise.
Be well. Travel wisely,