I am at a place in my life where one of the things I long for most is peace. I have always disliked drama and politics. I have never understood why people can’t just get along. In my mind, it is simple—treat others the way you want to be treated. Or, at the very least live and let live, as the old saying goes. (And, yes, I do get the irony that I am a theatre nerd, was president of drama club in high school, and have two degrees in theatre—or drama as it is sometimes called.)
At 43, I am officially middle-aged. I hate typing that. In my brain, I feel more like 28. But sadly, my body often reminds me that I am far from 28. Anyway, I have been thinking a lot lately about “the peace of God which transcends all understanding.” This is from Philippians 4:7. And, this is what I want in my life.
So, how do we experience this peace? Where can we find it? How do we get it?
If you read your Bible, you will find the answer. John 14:27 tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Jesus left us His peace. It is one of His many gifts to us. We don’t need to ask for it. He has already given it to us. He left it for us a long time ago. Peace I leave with you. We just need to take it. Grab it. Step into it. Breathe it in. Soak in it. Heck, marinate in it!
God is peace. He is even referred to as the Prince of Peace. (See Isaiah 9:6) Once we know God, we can know peace. The more time we spend with Him, the closer we draw to Him, the more of His peace we can experience and benefit from!
Have you ever heard the saying that goes something like, “Who you spend the most time with is who you become”? I have heard it quite often. But, honestly, I am not sure if it is true or not. However, I hope and pray that I become more like God every day. It only makes sense to me that the best way to become more like Him is to spend time with Him.
When we remember to seek God in all things, He becomes our refuge, our sanctuary. God tells us that we can cast our cares, our worries, our problems, our sorrows, and our fears on Him. Then, we can let them go. (See 1 Peter 5:7) Being able to do this gives us peace. Once we learn how to do this, we start to grasp that, His peace really does pass all human understanding.
Now, this can and does take some time. It is not something that magically happens overnight. (At least, that wasn’t the case for me.) It was something that I had to work for. It is something that I still work for. I often have to remind myself that Jesus left me His peace. I just need to reach out and grab it!
As I grow spiritually, and just as a female in general, I am realizing the value of self-care. Life can often be full and time-consuming and tiring. Sometimes it can even be crazy and daunting. But, as I age, looking out for number one--that would be me, is becoming more and more evident.
I have mentioned my “mystery” illness before. It is something I have been contending with for more than eight years now. I get tired and worn down easily from anything physical and/or stressful. And, while I don’t like it, I have learned to adjust my life accordingly. I sleep longer each night than I used to. I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables—more natural foods and a lot less processed foods. And, while adjusting my life has been tough, I have learned two very important lessons from it.
This week, I thought I would share both with you.
First, while it may be frowned upon by some, there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting yourself first. As a matter of fact, I would argue that taking care of yourself first takes priority over everything and everyone else in your life. I know you have heard this before, but I love it and I am going to share it with you again, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
If this makes others mad, so what? If this is upsetting to others, who cares? Trust me, they will get over it. God wants us to take care of ourselves. He wants us to be happy and healthy. Happy. And. Healthy.
By-the-way, being healthy includes your physical health, mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Paul tells us, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.”
Make sure your cup is full—put yourself first. Take care of yourself. Then, you can do all the other things in life that you feel are required of you.
Second, when I am weak, God is strong. When I am struggling, God pulls me up. When I am bone-tired, God refreshes me. When I can’t do anything, but cry from anger or frustration, God whispers in my ear that it’s ok.
This “mystery” illness, has brought me closer to God. This “mystery” illness has allowed me to rely on God more and more. And, He has never failed me. Not once! Over the course of the past eight years, I have seen first-hand just how much God loves me and looks after me. I have witnessed God do some pretty spectacular things. Day after day, He is there.
After all this time, my perspective of my “mystery” illness has changed. While I used to despise it, I am now grateful for it. Without it, I would not have the relationship with God that I have. And, there is nothing in this world that I would trade for that. Nothing. (Not even my old body.) God certainly works in mysterious ways, doesn't He?
My every day self-care now includes spending good, quality time with our Father God. Every day during lunch at work, I go outside and listen to a meditation devotional for 15 minutes. It is one of my most precious times of the day. It is something that I look forward to. It is something that replenishes me. It has turned into something that I yearn for. It is like needing food and water. I need time with God every day.
You do too. Start taking better care of yourself and your soul. Start by spending more time with God. And, start right now. You are worth it!
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.