To be in a covenant of peace.
To be at peace.
As many of the people who follow me on Twitter already know, I have been having some sleep-related issues as of late. In many ways, I feel like Kenneth Branagh’s character in How to Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog: the insomnia leads to agitation, the agitation leads to emotional trauma, the emotional trauma leads to questions of worth, doubt, and the like…
So, of course, “peace” would be the keyword that has been hanging around my heart and head during my waking hours. God just loves irony.
My biggest problem is that for the most part, I simply can not get my mind to shut down or shut off at night. My thoughts stay at this constant frenzied pace that makes it all but impossible to fall asleep some nights. No matter what I try – stretching, meditation, relaxation music, not ingesting caffeine after noon – my body and my mind simply will not sync up and agree that since the lights are out and the moon is up, it’s time for Sonny to go nite-nite.
During the day, my mind is occupied with Kai. I have to stay one step ahead of him both physically and in plotting my next move, since I have to think about what in the room or on the floor looks tasty, what furniture looks worthy of climbing on to dive off of, what color of permanent marker might go best on the flatscreen TV, and so on. Even when we’re outside playing, sitting down for a snack, or simply playing with blocks or his train set, I have to be there with him. I can’t just sit with him and not engage with him. So for roughly eight to nine hours a day, I constantly have to be “on.”
Parenthetically, I defy anyone who has a full-time job to tell me that there aren’t moments during the day – or even full days during the week – when you’re not completely there, when you can just kind of “check out,” even if you do it accidentally. Even doctors and teachers get breaks during the day. And yes, I get his naptime to have some “me” time, but that time is mostly taken up with writing. …you’re welcome.
Once Ashley gets home, and after we bathe, taser, and wrestle Kai into bed, we try to be there for each other, since those few hours we have before we pass out from sheer exhaustion are pretty much all we have during the week to talk, reflect, and eat cold pizza. Sometimes, we do go into separate corners like boxers, just to have some veg time to ourselves, but those times and nights are few and far between.
Being there requires action. Intentional, focused action.
Being sometimes does not.
To be at peace is an action that requires both.
The biggest problem stems from the fact that we oftentimes don’t seek actual, true peace. Oh, sure – we pray for peace over a decision, peace over a struggle we have, or peace for whatever may be on our mind, but if we were honest…are we actually looking for peace, or for a resolution?
For me and my restless heart & mind at nights, I'm too busy trying to find a resolution to laying in bed and staring at the ceiling fan to accept the peace that comes from the quiet. If I try to simply be in the moment of the quiet, I find that I can relax eventually, but I want sleep to come faster than it does. I want the resolution to my problem.
A resolution is an answer. Something concrete. Not necessarily tangible, but a definite closing. I know that nine times out of ten, I unintentionally look for a resolution instead of peace to whatever is running through my mind and heart. It’s almost comically mathematic: if the answer to X is Y, and Y is the variable, then I need Y.
But sometimes, to God, the answer to the equation I’m asking for help with might read “if the answer to X is Y, and Y is the variable, then I need yogurt covered shoestrings.”
In simpler words, it sometimes don’t make no sense.
In John 14:27, Jesus states “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” In this verse, the term “peace” translates to grace, which affects the character of the person involved. This peace is obtained through reconciliation, not necessarily resolution. “Peace,” as the world would define it, is concrete. An answer. A resolution. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, and will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus according to Phillipians 4:7? That doesn’t really sound, to me, like a peace that some might “get.”
It’s a peace that is okay living with the unanswered. It accepts the unknown. It accepts the unresolved.
It has the ability to wait.
This is perhaps why during this past month, God has been helping me to better understand peace as He might define it. Whether it be over my past, my present, or my future, I am trying – TRYING – to be better at being. To be better at letting reconciliation happen. To be better in living with the fact that I might not get a resolution, but that I can have grace in, through, and over the situation or struggle.
Because I already have the covenant promised to me through my redemption.
I simply have to be to accept the shalam offered.