Inner peace, I think we all struggle with peace, right?
I don’t know about you, but I certainly have not yet fully garnered the fruit of peace.
It just always seems like something is waiting nearby to rob my inner peace.
Maybe it’s running late, and the anxiety that accompanies that. Or it’s something said to me that gets right under my skin. Perhaps, it’s just feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to get everything accomplished.
There are countless ways that inner peace can be taken away.
We at Spiritually Hungry have been working toward a thankful heart all month long, and maybe you have joined our November Challenge and have been working on your own thankfulness in preparation for Thanksgiving.
Whether you have joined our challenge or not, I bet you want your holiday to be MORE this year. Good memories, great conversation and most importantly, a day focused around Christ.
So how might you go about making your day centered around Jesus?
Maybe you start the day off with a devotional. Maybe you listen to Christian worship or spend time conversing with the Lord. Afterwards, you’re for the day and to make it a great holiday!
And then… the everything begins.
The weight and responsibility of the holiday hits you. There’s a LOT to do.
And that peace you started the day with – wait where did it go? It seems to have disappeared somewhere between stuffing the bird and breaking up a fight between your kids.
“Well there goes that. At least I did have a portion of the day focused on God,” you think.
I hear you. I understand what it’s like to quickly have your peace snatched away and you just don’t have time to have to try to get refocused. The day must go on.
But, you know of course…YOU are the one who is allowing your peace to be robbed!
Circumstances will always occur. Life is very unpredictable. But do you know what is predictable?
God and His gift of peace.
5 steps to foster a peaceful holiday.
STEP 1: Quiet Time
Start off the day with a quiet time.
This is really important.
Starting off your day with God is the absolute point to begin with. This is a time to center you around what is important and where your strength comes from. Here are a couple quiet time suggestions, all of which can be done before you even get out of bed (don’t want you to fall back asleep!)
Quiet Time Suggestions:
-Morning Conversation with God (aka prayer).
-Read a devotional.
-Quiet time as a family during breakfast. Read a piece of Scripture or say a family prayer and ask a simple question for everyone to answer. For example ask, “What do you think God has in store for us today?”
-Put on your favorite worship songs and praise God. This can certainly be done with your family. My sister puts Christian music on the tv and her young boys dance around. It’s really a beautiful thing to see!
-Go for a morning walk (again can be done with your family). If by yourself, use it as a time for prayer with God. Praising and thanking Him as you walk. If done as a family, talk about God on the walk. Here’s an easy conversation starter, “What is the most amazing thing to you that God has made?”
-Read some Scripture and allow God’s word shape and carry you through the day.
-Pray for your guests or the people you are going to spend the holiday with.
STEP 2: Centering Prayer
As you leave your quiet time, keep in the forefront of your mind the purpose of the holiday.
Keep the day spiritual!
If it happens to be Christmas, allow your mind to focus on the purpose of the day, to celebrate Christ coming to the world. If it’s Thanksgiving, keep your mind in a constant loop of thankfulness.
Center your mind around the original purpose of gathering for the day, which is to celebrate something…and just keep linking that to God.
STEP 3: Practicing the Presence
Now that you have prepared your mind and heart by spending time with God and saturating your mind with the reason for the holiday, it’s time to move into the activities of the day, all of which can be done with God!
Throughout the duties of the day (cleaning, preparing, cooking, hosting, traveling, etc) remember that God is with you. Your tasks can be done with the realization that God is with you then and there. Nothing is too small for God. You might be cleaning dishes, wrapping a last minute present, or searching for that turkey baster you only use once a year – no matter what it is, God is with you and offering His companionship to you. You simply just need to join in.
And you join in by remembering and acknowledging God’s presence.
If you would like more information on this awesome spiritual practice, check out the originator of this discipline “The Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life,” by Brother Lawrence.
Here’s what Brother Lawrence says about practicing the presence:
“I make it my business to rest in His (Jesus’s) holy presence which I keep in by habitual, silent, and secret conversation with God. This often causes in me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them, and prevent their appearance to others.”
Could you imagine, realizing God’s presence in the way Brother Lawrence did?
It is possible, I have one more quote to share that perfectly highlights our capacities:
Another great – I mean GREAT resource – is The Believer’s Secret of the Abiding Presence. I found this book through Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence devotional. This is actually what set her into a deeper, or intimate relationship with God. By the way, I love her devotional books; they are great!
But back to Murray and his discovery of God’s presence walking with His believers, Murray states:
“If God could raise the dead Christ, who has died under the burden of all our sin and curse, surely He can fulfill in our hearts His promise that Christ can be so with us and in us in such a sense that He himself should be our life throughout the day.”
It’s really an amazing thought. If you believe God raised Jesus from the dead, then can you not believe that God’s presence is residing in you as well?
STEP 4: Recenter Your Mind
Going through the duties of the day with Christ’s presence alive in you is great, but what about when a curve ball is thrown and a fight breaks out, or the bread burns or your mom questioned your wardrobe choice that day? And there goes everything – up in smoke. Everything you have prepared for all day is gone in an instant.
Well, yes… and no. You can recover from the stress of the day if you regain your composure.
The way to do that is to recenter your mind on something that will ground you back to your inner peace, the peace of Christ with in you. Remember what you did in Step 2, before the day started?
Pick a phrase, word or imagery to center your mind around when things go out of sorts. Maybe it’s thankfulness. Or joy.
Maybe it’s thinking something like, “Today my family and friends are gathered to celebrate the holiday and I want to be actively engaged in that day with the peace and love of Christ ruling in and through me.” Maybe it’s a mental picture of your favorite place in nature or a memory of you and a loved one. The possibilities are endless.
Now turn to God with your thoughts and allow Him to recapture your attention.
Step 5: Celebrate
All of the previous steps are simply ways to guide your heart and mind into the purpose of the holiday, which is to celebrate the day with family and loved ones. So celebrate! I don’t mean by over eating or grabbing a glass of wine, but celebrate your family. Celebrate your loved ones.
Let excitement pour out of you – and this excitement is generated and fostered by you and your discipline throughout the day to fix your heart and thoughts on Christ who is with you, celebrating with you!
And here’s a little chart for your taking, go ahead and pin it for quick access!
Good luck, you beloved of one of Christ, and do not get discouraged or frustrated when you lose your peace or forget that God is with you.
It won’t happen instantaneously; as with anything it requires discipline. You are simply training your mind and heart to react differently and that takes time. So take a deep breath and recenter your heart and go forth with God’s magnificent presence with you.