It was late afternoon before she recognized her growing restlessness as a desperate need to get outdoors away from the clutter and clamour. The house was topsy turvy and the children were all engaged in projects other than school work.
But if it was peace she was looking for, she did not find it. From the moment she hopped on her bike she was aware of an unsettling presence. It took many forms over the next couple of hours. A dark shape that resembled a man among the wrecked cars in the neighbours’ pasture… a bit of broken car windshield glass and red plastic from a park light suggesting a decided absence of peace on the quiet road since her last ride that way… the sunlight hitting the shadows on the road ahead giving the appearance of a vehicle perpetually approaching from the north… strange rustlings in the dry grass at the roadside despite the absence of grasshoppers… a crunched up pop can in the old abandoned farmhouse as evidence that someone had been there since her last visit… In fact, the whole drooping demeanor of the house this time gave the impression that it had sunk and shifted even more than before.
She didn’t want to go inside the house, so she sat down in the grass by the laneway at the edge of the field behind the house. Even there the raspy clatter of dry leaves knocking together in the wind… rustling in the grass… the combine humming in the field half a mile away… and the eerie feeling that someone could be in the house watching her… all added to the feeling of disquiet.
She knew the verse. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. She also knew that the Sabbath rest belongs to every day of the week for the Lord’s own. But where was that rest? Where was the secret place? Her prayer did not reflect back from a brassy sky… she knew she had been heard. But where was the peace? And why could she not settle down and lose some of the restlessness?
Maybe she needed a drink of water. She rose carefully and gingerly from her spot confinement between mole mounds and dry thistles and drank from her water bottle. Now, where to sit down again? She walked around the house, looking in the windows. At least it didn’t smell bad as it had on that dark and dreary day she had last been there. But no spot invited her to sit and rest a spell. She could not shake the feeling that she was not alone. There was no peace.
By now the sun was sinking low in the sky and it was time to head for home. Maybe she could find a quiet spot there. In the bedroom perhaps? No. There would be no peace that night.
She knew the unsettling presence was her own restlessness self, and there would be no escape today. “What’s wrong with this picture,” she asked herself. “Why does the peace and quiet of the warm, sunny autumn day not fill me with peace as it usually does?”
The answer did not come.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that we talk to ourselves all the time, and most of it is negative. I’m told that the average toddler hears “No” four hundred times a day. I don’t know if that is true or not. But I do know that from the time we were very small, we’ve received negative programming — from our parents, brothers and sisters, teachers, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders — that takes root and overpowers the positive. And that is what most of us live with, whether we realize it or not. Awareness is the first step toward turning the negative around to the positive.
Today I am on an ongoing quest for peace. But now I not only know where to look, but I know how to get it. Positive self talk!!
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Those words were spoken to His disciples just before He left them, but they are meant for anyone who knows and loves Him. So now, when turmoil and agitation start to threaten me, I say:
“I am at peace in Christ my Saviour. I am at peace in Christ my Lord.”
Are you like me? Do you need peace more than anything else? Try saying those words hundreds of times a day, and just watch things shift and change!
© Willena Flewelling