Being at peace with your life is no small feat. I “bump” into people everyday who are discontent with their life. The bump isn’t always physical, but it is real just the same. You read the discontentment in blogs and status updates. You overhear it at restaurants and grocery stores. You see it in the eyes of the driver next to you as you are waiting at the light. Sometimes in those brief, deep glances through the windows to each other’s soul, I sigh and wonder. It’s like driving slowly down a dark street and you pass by houses with the lights on and the curtains open. It’s only a quick look, but you see the colors of the walls, pictures hung, style of furniture, or the lack there of. And briefly you know you’ve entered that secret, quiet place of another’s dwelling. And then, just like that, with the blink of an eye, the curtains close and you drive on contemplating your own dreams, secrets and tragedies. Peace. There is no substitute for it. No counterfeit to take its place. Men have tried bottling it like it is something you can swallow, shoot up or snort. One of the biggest challenges I have found in my very short 44 years on the earth, as I have observed my own life and listened to those around me, is the practicality of living and being ‘at peace’.
Is it that I am human? Do other nations struggle with discontentment as much as Americans? Is it the notion of the “American Dream” that has set us up for such failure? Or is it just the nature of the world around us that transcends culture, color, sex or age? As far as I can tell, very few people over the age of 25 have everything they dreamed of when they were younger. We envisioned glorious careers at our fingertips, lasting marriages filled with lingering kisses and affection, homes that survived any storm, relationships that were fun and stable and children that lived. We saw ourselves strong and able, overcoming burgeoning bad habits and weaknesses and wise beyond our years. Now what do I see when I look in the mirror? Discontentment, dark wild and unruly, stares back, searching out the deep places within me, the hidden places behind the curtains. Wow! Pretty depressing! Exactly! Life is, at times, depressing. And it sucks! (Please pardon my crude language.) This is evident by the words of our mouth at work and what we put on Facebook at home. We become “one of those people” and curl up into ourselves, blurring the edges of our reality, pulling the blanket of denial over our heads, just waiting and wanting it all to disappear. But that is wishing my life away! Being ‘at peace’ with my life makes me uncurl again, like a delicate bloom slowly unfurling in the hope and wonder of the wet morning sun. So, the road took a turn I wasn’t expecting or ready for. It doesn’t matter if I handled the curve with the grace of Jeff Gordon or fell off the tracks like a derailed Amtrak. This is my life, the only life I’m going to have here on this earth. There is no going back. Accept it. There is no changing what has passed. Accept it. The only right response to life is to acknowledge the hurt and disappointment, deal with it, embrace my life and l…i…v…e. To try to live from any other place than peace is to spread my misery and discontentment to others around me. And to me, that is not living. To live true, is to live in Peace. In the place of peace, I find contentment, even during the most of horrific circumstances, to love my life and those around me.
I have become, ‘one of those people’ and I am endeavoring to find the grace to be at peace with my “new” life.
In this life there are promises made, statements declared, love given and for a moment life is golden like the commitment of the sunrise to make it all come true. But at the end of the day when the moments have turned to hours, the gold has turned to dust, promises broken and forgotten and the night has constricted your heart and lungs and left you for dead, what do you do? You take the hand of the One who loves you. You stand with the ones who hold you. With peace in your heart, soul and mind, you choose to embrace and accept all the day has delivered. You count the stars and look for the sun to rise tomorrow.
There are those, nearby and far off, that count the blessings of their life. They open their curtains for all to see the warm glow of the color of their love, light and laughter. Their lives don’t look at all like they wanted or dreamed. But their hearts and faces are not hardened with bitterness or longing. Their tragic loss, grief or hurt is not hidden nor strewn about but rather put in its right place. In the diverse and ornate curio of their lives you see the barrenness of desolation but you also see the delicate bloom of hope, the gentle comfort of blessing and the fortress of peace.
Yes, I want to be “one of those people”.