Accepting Jesus as my Savior is hands-down the best decision I ever made, and it keeps getting better as I grow closer to Him. Putting Him at the center of my life isn’t always easy because as humans, we’re all selfish, but every time I choose to trust Him he exceeds my expectations.
I used to live a life that was ruled by fear and stress, but now my spirit lives in peace. I am not saying that life is never hard, or that trusting God is always easy. It’s not. What I am saying is that it’s always the better way.
Earlier this week I considered watching the State of the Union, but I didn’t. I read about it the following morning, and I read the news every day. I like to know what’s going on, but I’m very selective about what I let into my mind these days.
The fact is that we live in a nation, a world, that is filled with reasons to be stressed, disappointed, disgusted, and even fearful. Horrific acts of violence are the new normal, and every cable news station has a “breaking news story” about something devastating, or at the very least, disappointing every day. The cycle constantly repeats itself, and the same thing is true about the shows we watch and the things we see on the internet.
Pain and disappointment are constantly being shoved in our faces non-stop, and many of us struggle with letting it crush our spirits, make us fearful, or desensitize us completely. I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to live like that.
Right now, my pastor is preaching a sermon series about getting through the trials of life, and I decided to compile my own list of tips for living in peace:
- Stop watching TV shows that are dark, violent. I used to love shows like Scandal and House of Cards, and I know plenty of people who still do. (No judgments…this is just how I feel.) I didn’t like how I felt when and after I watched them, so I stopped.
- Turn off the 24/7 news cycle. For years I prided myself on knowing every little thing that was happening in politics and around the world. I still think it’s important to know what’s happening, but I read about it and move on. I don’t let the constant stream of drama and bad decisions infiltrate my thoughts and life anymore, and I’m happier as a result.
- Start the day by talking to God. I tell Him good morning and that I want Him to be present in every part of my day. I pray too, but I tend to wake up and start my morning routine before I say much to anyone. Michael and I pray together daily too, but we usually do that at night when he’s tired and I’m wide awake. Ha!
- Read the Bible every day. I spend time with God in prayer and worship, and I spend time seeking to hear His voice by reading His Word. I read the book of Proverbs once a month on top of my other reading too because it’s filled with practical ways to live. You don’t have to read the Bible for three hours a day. Just find a verse and focus on it. It takes some discipline at first, but it’ll become something you love and look forward to.
- Listen to worship music. If you know me, you know probably know that I love Pearl Jam, the Foo Fighters, and lots of other bands and artists who aren’t part of the christian music scene. I just really enjoy the peace that comes from worshipping Jesus. I also love to sing my guts out, so I keep it playing pretty often.
- Thank God for the blessings in your life. I know this sounds simple, but it’s true. When our focus shifts from our problems and imperfections, we’re able to see the good in everything. Again, I’m not suggesting that we should deny our problems. I just prefer to spend time focused on and thankful for what’s good.
- Look for opportunities to be generous. It’s so cool to see the smile on someone’s face when you do something nice for them, but it doesn’t compare to knowing that you did something that pleases God. There are so many opportunities (big and small) to do that every day, and if you ask God to give you opportunities to be generous, He will say yes every time.
- Surround yourself with other believers. Go to church, join a small group, and find something you enjoy doing and share your talents by serving. You don’t have to run yourself ragged, nor do you have to go to a small group every night of the week. Just do something, and watch how awesome and fulfilling it is to be used for God’s purpose. Going to church won’t get you to Heaven. That’s not why we do it. We go to hear life-giving messages from God’s Word and to be surrounded by other people who are surrendering their lives to God, and we learn how to live the kind of life that God designed us to live. It’s so much better together, which is another reason that small groups are so awesome and important.
- Tithe. Michael and I both return the first ten percent of everything we make to God, and that has been life-changing for both of us. Oh, I know…people don’t like to talk about tithing, but it changed everything in my life. God and our church definitely don’t need our money; that’s not why we do it. We do it because we recognize that everything we have comes from God anyway, and we desire Him to be in control of our lives. It’s an act of surrender. For a long, long time finances were a constant struggle regardless of the amount of money I was making. Now, after years of tithing and watching God provide for me and open doors that exceeded my expectations, there’s no way I’d stop. I know it doesn’t make sense, but God’s math is the best! He seriously works out everything for our good when we trust Him, and it takes the pressure off of us to figure it all out.
- Love people. It’s so easy to judge people based only on what we see, but we’re all humans. And we all need grace. Once I realized how much forgiveness I needed, it became much easier to forgive others. I look for the good in people, and I share sincere compliments as often as possible. Again, focusing on the good surrounding me, helps keep my mind free from negativity in a way that I didn’t know was possible until I tried it.
I’m not a pastor or a know-it-all. I know that there are many other ways to experience peace in your life, but these are the things that come to mind when someone asks me how I live a peaceful life. And I’m still a work in progress. Right now I’m focusing on finding my confidence in Christ, and not in myself or my accomplishments (or lack of accomplishments.) But I’ll probably talk about that in another post.
Is your life peaceful? If so, will you please share what you do you do to maintain a peaceful life?