It can happen so fast, can’t it? I’ve been immersed for months getting ready to lead a women’s retreat on the topic of peace. I’d been reading all that Jesus said on the topic as well as other writers. I’d structured the retreat around entire life habits, the rhythms of renewal, that lead to peace. I was filled with peace and ready to talk all about it until lunch time last Monday when my front tooth broke on the last bite of a pretty soft meal.
Right before speaking to two different groups of women, I found myself looking like a jack-o-lantern and not in a good way. I try to be humble and not fret too much about my appearance, but I pretty much counted on having my front teeth. I went from peace-filled to slightly hysterical in a matter of minutes.
I called my dentist, praying that he would be working on the MLK holiday. He was. Frantically, I told the person that answered the phone I had two speaking engagements and needed teeth fast. They got me in. He fixed it in 20 minutes becoming my new 2023 superhero.
What I learned is how quickly we can be robbed of peace. It only takes a little thing to fill our previously peaceful selves with anxiety, doesn’t it? It can be a tooth, traffic, a flat tire, a cold, the flu or something worse, a too full schedule, a change of plans or something bigger like a new grief, a job loss, financial trouble, a relationship breach.
It can be what we see unfolding in our schools, churches, communities or families as we continue to fight and be divided, right? We are years into these battles now and just that alone has the cumulative power to rob us of peace. I can’t even watch the news anymore except the last few minutes where they share something heartwarming.
It can be as simple as missing a day or two of exercise, healthy eating, good hydration or sleep. Watch out, the peace thieves lurk everywhere.
Good things can rob us of peace as well: planning a big event, anticipating a graduation, trip, baby or other milestone. You could be robbed of peace if you are just in a season–a season of caretaking or overload at work or all your appliances and vehicles breaking at once. Why do they do that? We recently had our car tires, dishwasher and water heater all conspire against us to rob us of peace and money for things that are not fun to buy. It was both rude and cruel.
What is it that’s robbing your peace right now? It helps to name it, notice it and fight against it.
At the retreat we talked about how important it is to establish daily rhythms of rest, restoration, connection and creativity that keep peace robbers at bay and in perspective. We studied the book Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose by Rebekah Lyons.
Jesus tried to warn us about the robbers. He did. In John’s gospel he says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life and have it in its fullness.” John 10:10. Later in the same gospel he says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
God wants peace for you. Jesus teaches it and models it. Do not let anyone or anything rob you of that. Not even a tooth or a dishwasher.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor and Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. To read more blogs, see upcoming events or sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle monthly email go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com.