I recently saw a bumper sticker that read: “peace becomes you”* - and I have to agree--it does. Having personally been in and out of various states of peace in my life, I'm sure everybody around me would say that they benefit when I am in a state of peace, and the same probably goes for you too.
Checklist for misplaced peace:
Grumpy--just in general- often times straight up grouchy.
Nothing seems to work right- everything you do is “hard”.
Can’t enjoy life- even the sweet parts seem slightly sour.
Trouble sleeping- you know- the old toss+turn=exhaustion.
Your face shows it--your countenance is less than ideal, furrowed brow, slow to laugh or smile.
Can you relate?
So how do we “regain our inner peace”?
Retrace your steps to see where you lost it. Usually you can pinpoint it if you prayerfully sit and think on it-this may take a while, but don’t give up until you do.
Once by God’s grace you have spotted the incident (for me it usually involves others) ask God to give you objective clarity of vision to look and really see what happened and why.
Take the above findings and place them in your cupped hands and then blow on them (not really-- or really, if it helps) and ask God to remove the stuff that is not of Him but is of the enemy and is just there to “bother you” and to leave behind any nuggets of truth that you may need to deal with.
Then, prayerfully deal with it. If you need to speak to a trusted friend or priest to sift through your thoughts, then do. If you need to go to confession because the incident has caused you to sin- then go. Or if you discern that you need to apologize to another for your part in the incident then apologize--even if it has been a very long time--it is never too late to make things right, just do it, whatever it is. Be forgiven and restored and forgive and restore- get right with God and with others.
Most importantly- once you have dealt with it- “Live as if you have never sinned.”** Yes- go in peace to live a new life with God.
My friends Lauren E. Miller has this advice for you when you have lost your peace: “Don’t give more authority to outside circumstance or people than to the power of God inside of you to overcome, be victorious and regain your peace.”
Fr. Jacques Philippe** says that in order to maintain inner peace we need to practice daily times of silence and have within us a “sort of calm zone”. He quotes this in his beautiful little book “In the School of the Holy Spirit”:
“A Prayer by Cardinal Mercier:
I am going to show you a secret about holiness and happiness. For five minutes every day let your imagination be quiet, close your eyes to everything they see, and shut your ears to all of the world’s noise so that you can withdraw into the sanctuary of your baptized soul the temple of the Holy Ghost. And speak to that holy spirit and say to Him:
Holy Spirit, soul of my soul, I adore Thee.
Enlighten me, guide me,
Strengthen and comfort me.
Tell me what I ought to do
And order me to it.
I promise to submit
To anything that you requirest of me,
And to accept everything
That Thou allowest to happen to me.
Just show me what Thy will is.
If you do this your life will be quiet and peaceful, and comfort will abound even in the middle of troubles. For grace will be given to match any stress together with the strength to bear it, grace that will take you to the gates of Paradise, full of merit. Such submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of holiness.”
Go in peace. Because... peace becomes you.
“The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” John 14:26-27
Peace does become me. And...I need You to help me get and keep it! Please don’t let me be so blind and stupid to think that I can do whatever I want, whenever I want and live as I want-- and that I will be able to maintain inner peace. Only living according to Your will and in Your ways will bring me peace. Renew my mind to truth and let me dwell there. Please help me to choose time daily to sit in silence and soak up the peace found only in You***. Woo me Lord. Help me to choose to live in You-- to live in peace.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
* Disclaimer: I looked up the origin of the bumper sticker- I do not embrace the author’s views on life or the way she has chosen to live it -- but I do like this saying!
** I believe I have read everything Fr. Philippe has written. Out of my top 10 favorite books of all time- he has authored 3, they are life-changing: Interior Freedom, Searching for and Maintaining Peace, In the School of the Holy Spirit.