The Pretty Picture Kind of Peace


I’ve actually been thinking about peace all this year.  It’s my “one word” that I was determined to claim and intentionally pursue this year.  I haven’t done a really great job of consistently pursuing it, though.  I go through phases…some days I’m really focused and intentional, but other days (dare I say, most days) it’s like I have “soul amnesia” [that’s one of my favorite little phrases from one of my favorite writers, Ann Voskamp…I use it all the time since first reading about it in her book, One Thousand Gifts]…I have soul amnesia…I forget, again and again…I allow circumstances in my day and busyness in my life and worries in my mind control the level of peace in my day.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year about peace – though I live many moments as though I’ve forgotten it –  I’ve learned that peace is not about my external circumstances as much as it is about my internal wellness.

It’s not so much about the outer calmness of my life, but it is very much about the inner health of my soul.

Because…let’s be honest…most days, life is just plain crazy…and messy and loud and a bit chaotic.  Those pictures we have in our heads of what a “peaceful” day looks like – that lovely sunset over a pretty beach somewhere, or that beautiful mountain range seen from a cozy cabin in the woods, or that fire flickering quietly as children are all reading books and being sweet to each other while you sit cozy under a blanket with your love – or whatever picture it is you get in your head when you say the word “peace” – those pictures are rarely reality.  Oh, they are sometimes…and I’m sure for some people, those moments come more often than for others.  I’ve had a few of them this year myself…and sometimes we can intentionally create moments like that, where we can experience external peace…and I think intentionally creating those moments and looking for those moments is a good thing and an important thing (and something I may write about more later in this series).

I love those peaceful  moments.  I mean, if I could, I would just freeze time and stay in one of those moments.  Like one of these, from a trip to the Smoky Mountains we took last year:


Or any of these moments, frozen in time:

Those photos captured some pretty peaceful moments.

Honestly though, life is not a pretty picture like that on most days.  At least, not for me…and I’m guessing not for most of you, either.  Kids fight, deadlines loom, laundry piles up, dogs throw up, kids throw up, bills keep showing up, feelings get hurt, people let you down, things break, mistakes are made, stuff happens, things are lost, people are lost…the storms roll in out of nowhere, and we get beaten down.  So many things happen that don’t fit into those pretty pictures of peace.  And those are just the things that happen within our own 4 walls.  If we look beyond ourselves and around the world, there’s even more that threatens our peace.  There are wars raging, there are children starving, there are women mistreated, there are orphans crying, there are homeless begging, there are people suffering….there are terrible, horrible things happening.

Where does peace fit into all that?

I think so often we strive for peace by striving to turn everything into a “pretty picture” kind of peace.  We tell ourselves that if we could only fix all the problems and make everything calm, then we’d have peace.  Or, if we just put ourselves in a little bubble and just ignore all the problems…look the other way, don’t let it affect us, stay neutral, just keep smiling…then, we can have peace.

But peace isn’t a pretty picture.  And peace doesn’t mean denying reality or avoiding problems.

Life is crazy and messy, and this world is broken and full of problems.  Every day is not going to be a pretty picture of peace…but we CAN have peace in every day.  I believe it with all my heart…Jesus came so that we could have peace.  Peace in Him, peace through Him, peace WITH Him…peace within.

In Matthew 10:34 Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  But in John 16:33, He says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” And earlier, in John 14:27 He says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.”

Jesus did not come to bring peace to the earth…He came to bring peace to our souls.  He did not come to bring peace to our circumstances, He came to bring the peace of Himself WITHIN our circumstances.

In this world, in your everyday life, there will be trouble…there will be problems and craziness and heartache and storms…there will not always be a pretty picture of peace surrounding you.  But that pretty-picture kind of peace…the one based on external circumstances and surroundings…that kind of peace is the peace of this world, and it’s fleeting and temporary and impossible to maintain.  The kind of peace that lasts…the only kind of peace that brings true joy, even in the middle of all the troubles of this life, is the kind that comes from Jesus, from our Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

So today, when the kids are crazy and the house is messy and things don’t go like I planned, I’m going to intentionally put my thoughts on Jesus…I’m going to lean into Him and trust Him and take a deep breath and remember – just because it’s not a pretty picture doesn’t mean I can’t have peace.

I can always have peace, because I always have Jesus.


Want to read the other posts in the series?  You can find them all {here}.

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