What do you think of when you hear the word peace? Do you think of a still lake, a quiet library, or a feeling in your chest? Do you think of the way Christ speaks of peace?
According to Google, peace has two definitions. First, freedom from disturbance; tranquility. Second, a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended. But we as Catholics know a deeper peace. In fact, the American Standard Version uses the word “peace” in 412 separate places.
Peace plays a particularly interesting role in my life. For a long time, it was the only way I knew how to discern anything. Pray about it, and if I felt peace, then I knew the choice was right. And if I didn’t, I knew it was wrong. But this is not a fool proof method – because we are so extremely human, sometimes our own selfish desires can confuse God’s will with our own.
Peace is not constant. Sometimes you feel unsettled for a reason. When I was preparing for NET, I was very anxious. There was so much that I couldn’t prepare for and that was stressful. Once I arrived at the NET center though, that all went away and deep in my soul I found peace. Recently I was discerning a second year of NET and no matter where I looked I couldn’t find peace. I was scared of doing a second year because of what my parents would say, of how tired it would make me, of having a second team to have to relearn and love, and I was scared of going home and potentially ignoring God’s will for me and going back to my old way of being. No matter what, I was very stressed while praying about it. I would ask for advice for discerning, people would tell me to “follow where the peace is” but I didn’t know how, because I didn’t know where it was.
Then one day recently I was praying about spiritual warfare and how I was fighting so hard for God to want what I wanted, not the other way around. I realized this was why I couldn’t find peace. In war, peace is only established in all the lands once one side surrenders, and since God’s pursuit for us is never ending, it will never be Him. So one side would have to surrender, and it would have to be me. Then I would finally have peace.
Once I finally surrendered my discernment to the Lord and prayed about openness – I made space for Him to work in me. When I did, He finally told me what He wanted from me and I finally had the strength to say yes and I have peace again.
In the end, peace can only be achieved when you find it in God and when you allow His plan to unfold. It’s always better than our plan anyway.