Thursday, May 15, 2014

Eleven Steps To Inner Peace

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:
 not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:27
(KJV)


Is there anything people crave more than peace?
Think about it.
We try all sorts of avenues and channels to find that sense of inner calm.
We use drugs...both legal and illegal...to dull our senses and numb us to reality.
We drink alcohol to calm us down.
We smoke cigarettes and other substances to take the edge off.
We plunge ourselves into our jobs and careers with unrivaled zeal to keep our minds too absorbed to think.
We worship celebrities and fantasize about how great life would be...if only we were them.
We attempt to live vicariously through our children, inserting our own agenda and dreams into their lives,
expecting them to make us happy and fulfill us, making them resent us in the process.
We wrap ourselves in cloaks of religion in an attempt to soothe our conscience
and make ourselves feel less guilty and more holy.
After all, if it is done in the name of religion, it can't be all bad, right?
We set preachers up on pedestals, and we worship the creature, instead of the creator.
Surely if Bro. So-and-So approves of me, God must, too...right?
We run around like mad people, rushing here and there, always doing,
always performing, wearing ourselves out in the process....
just so we will be well-liked, popular, and highly-praised.
We spend money like it is mere shreds of paper, traveling, going, pushing ourselves,
thrill-seeking, dream-chasing, and self-seeking.
We are in continual pursuit...chasing after the latest, greatest, newest thing...
hoping, yearning, wishing with all our might...that surely this will bring the magic....
surely this will bring that sought-after, elusive, hard-to-find...
sense of inner peace.

At the end of the day, when the needle and pill bottles are empty, 
the whiskey bottle lies broken next to our shattered dreams,
our idol turns out to be human after all,
our children walk away, completely burned out 
and sickened by the taste of our aspirations being crammed down their throats,
we find out our adored preachers aren't so pedestal-deserving after all,
we awake to the reality that religion is completely empty and void of substance,
our career meets an abrupt, unexpected dead end,
and we are no closer to peace than we were when we started out...
we come to the age-old conclusions that millions before us have reached.

Peace cannot be bought,
it cannot be replicated,
and it doesn't come from external sources.

I believe peace is a pathway, and these are some of the steps.


#1.  Accept God's forgiveness.
If we are not in relationship with Him, we will not have inner peace.
When He created us, He instilled a need for Him and to be at peace with Him.
It manifests itself early on.
Sin created a chasm between God and man,
but when Jesus came, He built a redemptive bridge that spans the full length of that divide.
He paid the full price for our salvation by giving His very life and shedding His blood on the cross.
He wants to forgive.
"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee."
Psalm 86:5
Coming to Him, accepting His forgiveness for our wrong doing,
and accepting the peace He offers to us is the easiest thing in the world.
Somehow, we have been programmed to believe that God forgives begrudgingly.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
He did not come in to the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  (John 3:17)
Opening our hearts to His gift of forgiveness, redemption, and salvation is the first step to real peace.


#2.  Forgive yourself.
What happened yesterday must stay there.
We can't go back and pluck up seeds we have already planted.
What is done, is done.
What we sow will grow no matter how many tears we shed over it afterwards.
To continually beat ourselves up over past mistakes is a useless waste of time and energy,
because we cannot undo our actions.
We cannot take back spoken words.
This is reality, and it must be faced and accepted in order to find peace.
Regret over the past is a powerful force that robs us of today's blessings.
Once we have accepted the gift of God's forgiveness,
we must let it go.
He casts our forgiven sins into a sea of forgetfulness...
as far as the east is from the west.
If He has forgiven, shouldn't we?
We can go our whole lives trapped in a prison of remorse over mistakes, failures, and past sins.
When God forgives and forgets, He opens the door of our prison house and sets us free.
To remain there, as if we were still shackled, is like a prisoner on death row refusing to leave his cell
after the governor himself hand-delivers a full pardon to him.
It is like stubbornly digging our heels deeper into quicksand,
refusing to take hold of the hand offering to pull us out.
To find true peace, we must put the past where it happened....
pick up the pieces, and move on.



#3.  Forgive others.
Holding on to a grudge hurts no one but the one who clings to it.
Holding a grudge allows the one who hurt you to keep re-injuring you...over and over and over.
Holding a grudge entraps you and keeps you from finding peace.
Life is so fragile...so incredibly short.
To walk through it grasping on to unforgiveness and bitterness pulls a dark, gloomy cloud over every bit of happiness God so faithfully offers and provides...
until one day, we wake up to find that half or more of life is over...already lived...
and we have missed the best parts.
Unfortunately, we can't go back and live them over.
Wouldn't it be better to prevent future regrets, refuse to waste more time, and forgive today?
The other person may never apologize or acknowledge in any way that they have done anything wrong.
They may even take pleasure in knowing they are the cause of your pain.
Regardless of their attitude or mindset, we must forgive in order to have inward peace.
No matter how deep the hurt, how severe the injury, or how far-reaching the damage,
the best way to overcome it is to forgive the one who caused it.
Take it from a battle-scarred veteran...
there will be no inner peace, until you find it in your heart to truly forgive.
And no matter how bad it is, there is One Who forgave more than you or I will ever have to.


#4.  Apologize.
Are there shattered relationships in your life that steal your peace?
Relationships you really care about and long to repair?
You know, the one(s) that bug you and vex you and plague your thoughts every waking moment?
It is plain to see that you are never going to have peace until you build a bridge.
The bridge starts with two little words that seem so hard to utter.
I'm sorry.
Why is this so hard to say?
Whether or not you feel you have done anything wrong,
does it hurt to apologize?
In your mind, maybe it is 100% the other person's fault, but remember this...
in their mind it is 100% yours.
 Be the bigger person.
Take the low road.
Some of the sweetest blessings are found in the valley of humility.
Call them.
Write them a letter.
Send them an email.
Meet with them face to face.
If you care about your relationship, it is worth saving, right?
And if you care that much, the turmoil will continue until you do your part to make things right.
Chances are, if you make the first move, they will soften.
If not, you will know that you have done your part, and it is time to place it in God's hands and let it go.


#5.  Right your wrongs.
Make amends.
Is there someone you have wronged?
Someone you have hurt?
Someone you have gossiped about, berated, belittled, or slandered?
Guilt is a heavy burden.
Condemnation is a weighty load.
Think about it.
Even though you can't undo or take back what has been said,
you can try to make it right.
You may never be able to completely rectify the damage.
Uttering careless words is like emptying a bag full of feathers in a windstorm.
You have no control over where or how far they will go,
and you may never be able collect them all again or retrieve the ones that are lost.
But, you can do your best, right?
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
Romans 12:18
Initiate every doable effort to make restitution and right your wrong.
Do what is possible.
Don't focus on what is not.
There are things we will never be humanly able to set perfectly straight....
these we will have to surrender to God and trust His grace to cover.
Put your whole heart into doing what you can and giving God the rest.


#6.   Shed toxic relationships.
Let's just face the facts.
Some relationships are not matches made in Heaven.
If maintaining a friendship is causing you more grief than joy,
maybe it is time to gently let this one go.
There are people who inject toxic influence into our lives just by being around them.
They bring us down...leave us feeling defeated, vexed, tainted, and drained.
The longer we perpetuate the relationship, the more damage to our own well-being we will have to repair.
Pray about it.
Give the battle to God.
Tell Him it is His.
Release it to Him fully.
Allow Him to take control, and chances are, you won't have to hurt a feeling or make a move.


#7.  Guard your mind.
There is very little in this world over which you and I have any control at all.
Winnowing what goes into our minds is part of the very little.
In this, we are in complete control.
Not that we can prevent every bad element from being presented to our minds,
but we can certainly control what stays there.
And we can certainly filter out ungodly invasions by reading, watching, and listening to
only what is uplifting, spiritually-edifying, encouraging, and elevating.
I have found that I can absorb very little of the daily news
 without my inner peace being deeply disturbed.
Therefore, I have pulled back and take in very little of it on a regular basis.
Sometimes it is best not to know everything that is going on.
I'm not saying we should bury our heads in the sand and pretend all is well in the world,
but do we really have to know every gory detail about the devil's latest diabolical activities?
 And is it really in our best interest to bombard our minds with the opinions of those whose mindsets
are in complete opposition to God's Word?
Is this conducive to peace-filled, holy living?
The more you listen, the better chance the enemy has to subtly inject his poison and weaken your resolve.
Avoiding gossip is also a good idea, no matter how tempting it sounds.
Politely, tactfully, and gracefully excuse yourself from the conversation, if need be.



#8.  De-clutter your spirit.
I love to de-clutter things.
There are few things I find more fulfilling than straightening messes,
setting things in order,
and disposing of things we don't need.
Just like our homes and living spaces can become cluttered,
so it is with our spirit.
Worry, fear, jealousy, suspicion, and numerous other weights can crowd in
 and become formidable opponents to our inner peace.
Hebrews 12:1 says, "...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us..."
Just as it is hard to have a peaceful home with clutter and chaos present,
it is hard to have a peaceful heart that is weighed down with spiritual clutter.
Sometimes, it is good to sit down and take a thorough spiritual inventory.
What is it exactly that is bothering you most?
There are times I feel so uneasy and the total opposite of peaceful,
and sometimes, I have a most difficult time identifying the source of my apprehension and anxiety.
It really takes some digging and investigating to find the root,
but, once I find it, I can deal with it and cast it on the Lord.
He won't wrench peace-robbers from our grasp,
but He invites us to come boldly to His throne for help (Hebrews 4:16),
to cast all our cares upon Him (I Peter 5:7),
and to lay aside those things that are clouding and overwhelming our peace (Hebrews 12:1).
Following these steps will de-clutter our spirits and restore inner calm.


#9.  Don't over-extend yourself.
Don't try to bite off more than you can chew.
Don't set unattainable, unrealistic goals.
Doing so will only cause undue stress and create utter chaos.
Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and the courage to say no, when needed.
Do what is best for you and your family, regardless of what everyone else is doing.
Don't get caught up in trying to outdo and outshine.
You...and the ones you love most....will get lost in the ratrace.
So what if pretty, little Sis. Annagrace manages to teach a Sunday School class,
head up the ladies weekly prayer meeting,
oversee 12 homeschooling field trips a year,
organize the quarterly church bake sale,
and coordinate and lead the praise and worship team....
all while lovingly supporting her handsome pastor-husband, Bro. Pete,
homeschooling their seven children,
keeping her girlish figure in tact,
hosting weekly home-cooked meals for parishioners,
and maintaining a picture-perfect, clean-enough-to-eat-off-the-floor parsonage.
Whew!
Just thinking about her overflowing plate makes me tired!
Watch closely.
Before long, she will burn out.
No one can maintain that pace and intensity for long.
Something, or more importantly and sadly, someONE, will suffer.
There is no way one woman can do all of that....accurately and completely...for very long.
She may look all "put-together" on the outside,
but I guarantee you, it is a facade that covers a multitude of inner turmoil.
Stop trying to be Sis. Annagrace.
Be you.
And be you with all your heart.
It is all God requires of you.
What a relief!
What a blessing that all we have to be is who we are!
Do what you can.
Don't slack.
But, never take on more than you can handle.
Easy does it.


#10.  Stop caring what other people think.
You can do this without coming across as haughty.
Does it really matter what anyone else thinks?
At the end of the day, will they stand there...with you and God...
and have any influence over His opinion of you?
Do you think He gives one moment's thought to whether they do or do not approve....
of you and your choices in life?
If it doesn't matter to Him, should it matter to you?
We can literally run ourselves ragged, trying to please everyone else,
trying to set a perfect example,
trying to make everyone else happy,
trying to fit into everyone else's molds...
and completely lose ourselves in the process.
The opinions of others are as fickle and changeable as cloud formations on a windy day.
You just can't please everyone all of the time.
Attempting to is a mindless, unachievable pursuit.
People will talk.
They will judge.
They will criticize.
They will condemn.
None of it matters.
The sooner we realize and accept this fact, the better for our own peace of mind.
Just let it go.
Let it roll off....(as my Papaw used to say), like water off a duck's back.
He used to say that other people's opinions didn't matter anymore to him than an old dog barking.
That man's wisdom must have been right up there close to Solomon's. :)
And remember Eleanor Roosevelt's sage-like nugget...
"No one can make you feel inferior...without your consent."


#11.  Be yourself.
Walk the path God has orchestrated for you to walk.
Be who He wants you to be.
Don't berate who you are.
Don't belittle what you do.
Don't feel like you aren't as important as the one whose qualities you most admire.
The one you feel less than may feel the same way about you.
The career woman you watch enviously every morning
from the window over your smeared-with-pureed-carrots-and-cheerios breakfast nook table,
may be longing with all her heart to hear someone call her "Mama" for the 38th time already this morning.
That Susie-homemaker-lookalike-stay-at-home-mom next door who appears as happy as a lark
may wish she could get out of the house and into your working shoes...
if only for one day.
God created us all equally, but He gifted us uniquely and individually.
Comparing ourselves and envying each other takes our minds off what is most important.
"For we dare not make ourselves of the number,
or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves:
 but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
2 Corinthians 10:12
God values you...for who you are.
The work He has given you to do is of extreme value to Him.
He knows what you do best.
Don't ever despise the day of small things. (Zechariah 4:10)
You are right where you are, by God's design and purpose.
Be kind to yourself, and don't ever forget how special you are to God!
Love Him with all your heart...
for this is the way to true inner peace.



(To read #1 in this series, entitled "Eleven Ways To Bless Your Husband", click here.
To read #2 in this series, entitled, "Eleven De-Cluttering & Organizing Tips", click here.
To read #3 in this series, entitled "Eleven Steps To A Stronger, Happier Marriage", click here.
To read #4 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Things To Remember During Infertility", click here.
To read #5 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Ways To Make Your Home More Peaceful", click here.
To read #6 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Ways To Be More Frugal, click here.)

35 comments:

  1. "Holding on to a grudge hurts no one but the one who clings to it." Amen!! Wonderful post with so many great applications Cheryl! Blessings to you friend.

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    1. Thank you so much, sweet friend! So happy you stopped by today and most grateful for your words!! God bless you in a special way. :)

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  2. I don't watch the news, either, for the very same reasons. It just got too hard for me to mentally watch and not get down on life. I don't need all that nonsense; because really, most of what they report anymore IS nonsense. I wish they would report good things. Today's news is more like bad gossip to me and I can certainly do without!

    Great post. :)

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    1. Thanks so much! So happy you stopped by. You're right, we don't need all that nonsense. I refuse to allow the non-Biblical, anti-Christian mindset of the liberal media to infiltrate and bombard my way of thinking. It is just one more of the "non-flesh and blood" powers we are having to wrestle with in these end times. Thank God for His armor and one piece of it is a helmet to protect our minds. It is up to us to keep the helmet on and not allow the bad to enter. Have a blessed day!!!

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  3. Thank you for the wisdom you have shared here, and for the beautiful, peaceful pictures. What you have shared in #9 is so very true: "No one can maintain that pace and intensity for long. Something, or more importantly and sadly, someONE, will suffer. There is no way one woman can do all of that....accurately and completely...for very long. She may look all "put-together" on the outside, but I guarantee you, it is a facade that covers a multitude of inner turmoil." I have learned this the hard way and have gone through some difficult valleys. Praise God for His healing.

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    1. Oh, Jennifer! Bless your heart! I, too, have walked that turbulent path, and YES, I, too praise God for His healing!! He gives us the choice...and sometimes we aren't the best stewards over our free will. but, thank God for amazing grace and the way it covers our failures and restores us back to wholeness again. SO very happy and thankful you stopped by today. God bless you!!

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  4. What an amazing post, Cheryl. I have bookmarked it so I can come back and chew on it some more. So much truth you have packed into these steps to peace. I wanted to stop and pray over each one. I was reminded of the old hymn:
    Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
    Coming down from the Father above!
    Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
    In fathomless billows of love! (William Cornell)

    Blessings, Pamela

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    1. Oh, Pamela!! Your precious words brought me to tears! Thank you for the reminder of that dear, old hymn. I LOVE those words. I am so grateful to you for stopping by today and leaving such dear encouragement behind. God bless you!!

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  5. Cheryl, an amazing post full of so much good teaching! I'll just comment on #2. Years ago, there was a *big* something that God had to forgive me of. And others, too. Funny, I was able to accept God's forgiveness, and the forgiveness of the people involved - but I just couldn't forgive myself. You are so right, though, this is not where God wants us to be. The Holy Spirit doesn't condemn us, He convicts us. And that conviction leads to repentance and restoration. It moves us to a place where we can experience once again the freedom of forgiveness. When we stay mired in guilt, we're focusing on ourselves - and there is a certain amount of pride involved when we choose to stay there. And certainly no peace.

    So, great lessons - may the Lord continue to teach us to seek HIS peace, and to accept it when it is offered.

    GOD BLESS!

    (Sent you an email this morning - looking forward to hearing from you!)

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    1. Thank you SO much, Sharon!! So thankful to hear from you and to read your sweet comments here. I will check my email and write you back right away. I can't thank you enough! I can totally relate to your experience of not being able to forgive yourself. Sometimes, that is the hardest thing to do. I loved what you said about there being a certain amount of pride there....that is such a good point. I had never thought of that in that way, but it is SO true. Thank you again, and God bless you!!

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  6. Thanks for sharing Cheryl! I like what you said about shedding toxic relationships. I was just listening to a sermon that said who you hang out with is who you become! All of these are such important reminders!

    I'm going to pin this!

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    1. Thank you SO much, Caroline!! That is such a great point that we become who we hang out with! So grateful for you and your encouragement. Praying for you!!

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  7. loved this! I need to work on #9 and #10 :/

    waitingforbabybird.com

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    1. I know what you mean! I am a work in progress on many of them...SO thankful God is patient with me!! And so happy you stopped by today. Praying for you, dear friend, and sending hugs your way. :)

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  8. Your list is excellent Cheryl! Especially the forgiveness steps in the first 3 entries... I have seen a grudge hurt so many lives, especially the one holding it. This post will certainly be a blessing to others and I thank you for sharing it at the Art of Home-Making Mondays.

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    1. Yes, me, too...grudges are especially hurtful and cause such rifts in relationships. It is so liberating to just let it go and give it to God and let Him handle it. Thanks for the link-up and for stopping by!

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  9. Wow! There's a lot of information in this post. It could be a series in and of itself! Great points!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! So thankful you stopped by today. :) God bless you.

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  10. Your 11 steps are awesome. Thank you for sharing your wonderful post with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” At: http://letmetelluastory.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you so much, Hazel. I removed the other comment because I didn't want to hurt or offend the other Liebster Award nominees. :) So happy you stopped back by. I appreciate you! Love, Cheryl

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  11. #10 and #11 have been only recently added to my repertoire. Many of the others were poignant lessons from other seasons of my life, but those last two? They are as current as the morning news.

    I loved your thoughts here, Cheryl. As always, you are a welcome addition to Unforced Rhythms.

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    1. I know what you mean, Kelli. Every one on the list has been learned and absorbed through the school of hard knocks...in different seasons of life so far. I falter and fail so many times, but thank God for all of the second chances. I SO appreciate you coming by and leaving sweet encouragement behind. It is such a blessing to walk this Christian journey with you, and your link-up and blog is a consistent blessing. Lots of love to you!

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  12. Great post with tons of great tips... currently I am trying to remember to not overschedule and to give myself that time needed to unplug and, as you said, declutter! Visiting from Jennifer's place tonight... Telling His story with you!

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    1. Thanks, Karrilee! So happy you stopped by today. :) You are a blessing.

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  13. Great tips. There is nothing comparable to the peace of God on a life! Many blessings.

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    1. Thank you, Cathy. You are so right! It is a peace that passes all understanding and sustains through the darkest moments of life. Many blessings back to you! So happy you stopped by today. :)

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  14. Cherly, you always have such good points and beautiful pictures to go along with what you are sharing. Forgiving others and not holding grudges are things to constantly work on and guard against doing. You are such a blessing to who stop by.

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    1. Thank you ever so much, Judith, for stopping by and your kind words! I agree, it is a constant battle to guard against grudges, for truly we are the ones who suffer and are held captive by them. I trust the Lord will bless you richly for your encouragement to me!

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    2. Thank you ever so much for stopping by and for your kind words! You are so right, we must guard continually against grudges, for we are the ones who suffer and are held captive by them, if we hold on to them. So thankful for you, dear friend!

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    1. Thank you so much, Julia! So happy you stopped by. :)

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  16. Cheryl, I came upon your blog from Wise Woman Builds Her Home. I am a homeschool graduate who has a blog for young women. I LOVE this post- it spoke to me right where I am at with a friendship in my life - a very 'toxic relationship'. I loved this concerning accepting forgiveness: 'To remain there, as if we were still shackled, is like a prisoner on death row refusing to leave his cell after the governor himself hand-delivers a full pardon to him.' If I can't forgive myself, I can't forgive my friend, and vice versa. Loved your blog! I'll be back.

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    1. Oh, Phylicia! Your words and encouragement blessed me today more than you will ever know!! Thank you ever so much for sharing your thoughts and encouragement. I am so sorry to hear of what you are going through, and I do trust God will give you the courage & strength to take the needed steps to find inner peace. So happy to have met you, and I look forward to many future visits! God bless you!!

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  17. Hello Mrs Cheryl..I have a problem forgiving myself on things.
    Shed toxic relationship this I have so done.
    Blessings,Renee

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    1. I can surely relate to this. If God forgives us, it is hard to understand why we cannot forgive ourselves...but sometimes that is the hardest thing for us to do.

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