Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!” John 20:21
Saturday mornings are awesome in my house! My kids love it because they get complete control of the remote control, taking turns choosing cartoons to watch while they chill out on the couch. My husband loves it because he can have a slow start to his morning, and then roll into “Rock ‘n Roll Pancake Breakfast” with our kids. I love it because it’s my day to sleep in a bit, then retreat to my bedroom with hot coffee and oatmeal, to relax, write, and pray. Everyone gets to recharge from the chaos of the week; everyone is happy.
But then you get those crazy Saturdays that throw a monkey wrench into the equation. This past Saturday was a perfect example. Zack had his first karate tournament ever, and my husband’s track club had a “fun run,” followed by a big breakfast and Easter egg hunt. So by 7:30 a.m., he was pulling out of his garage bay with Mason and Jocelyn in his mini-van, heading east; I was pulling out of my garage bay with Zack in my mini-van, heading west.
We met back at home in the afternoon. Despite the fun things we got to do that morning, everyone was burnt and cranky. A minute after we got in the door, my kids started bickering. Despite the threats and punishments, they continued to do so for the remainder of the day. As I was finally about to eat my lunch, hours after I should have, Mason accidentally knocked my lunch plate over, sending french fries and ketchup radiating across the kitchen floor. My tank was so low, I didn’t even have the energy to flip out. I literally just stood there while my husband cleaned up the mess.
That’s just the short list of negative emotions that we were feeling. That list doesn’t include Jocelyn’s whining, her greedy question about why she didn’t get a toy from McDonalds, Zack’s disappointment that he didn’t place at his tournament, my husband’s frustration that my kids just wanted to stay in and play screens rather than go outside to play, etc., etc. Bedtime couldn’t come fast enough – for any of us!
After Jesus was crucified on the cross, His disciples hid away in a locked room for fear that they would be taken away and made to suffer the same fate. They were grieving the loss of their friend and teacher. Moreover, they were confused and disappointed, wondering why Jesus didn’t save Himself, not yet understanding that He would be resurrected. That’s just the short list of negative emotions they were feeling.
When Jesus appears to them in that locked room for the first time, not only are His first words, “Peace be with you,” but after He shows them His hands and side, He says it again, “Peace be with you!”
Peace. Peace is a word and a sentiment that has so many layers to it. It is the antidote for everything: disappointment, fear, anger, greed, frustration, depression, exhaustion, war, pain, grief, confusion. I can’t think of a single negative emotion that it doesn’t cure. Peace is a state of being that is the emotional equivalent of heaven: a place where all is right and good. It’s no wonder that Jesus wishes that for His disciples. In fact, that’s what He wishes for all of us.
Although peace is a powerful word that can transform everything, it is also a passive word. It cannot impose itself on us. We have to be open to it. We have to be willing to receive it. We also have to make space for it.
What I’ve discovered about my family is that constantly being on the go, with no downtime to unwind, closes us off from receiving God’s peace. That’s not okay. When I look back at the punctuation in this scripture passage, I see an exclamation point. That tells me that this isn’t just a statement; it is a command. Jesus may be offering the peace, but my part is to create the time and space for my family to receive it. I’m the mom. I set the tone. More importantly, I set the agenda, fill the calendar, agree to the commitments. If our life is too full, that’s on me. I’m the one who has to make the changes.
I wrote this post on Sunday, the day after the chaos and negative emotions. It was Easter morning and the docket had been cleared. We all relaxed, let go, and rested in God. It was astounding how everything shifted: the angst from Saturday was completely gone. God’s peace was received.
After we got to that place where we could live out Jesus’ command, we celebrated His victory over death. Because the word “alleluia” is not used during the forty days of Lent, we had put each letter on a paper plate and had hidden them around the house on Ash Wednesday. After our peace-filled time on Easter morning, we “unburied the alleluia,” strung the letters together, and hung them from the fireplace as a reminder that Jesus was dead, but now He is risen. We lost our peace, but now it is restored. Alleluia!
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oh Claire….. I needed this more than you know. My life is so crazy busy right now and I struggle to find the balance every day. Each and every time I read one of your new blog posts I can literally feel the peace wash over me, yet I didn’t realize it until I read this and actually felt my shoulders relax away from my ears. Every time I have ever been in your presence or read something you’ve written it calms me right to my core. It brings me peace. You are truly gifted Claire and everyone that is lucky enough to be touched by you in some way is blessed.
Sandra – You just made me cry!!! I am SO touched by what you wrote. Thank you! And I’m sorry to hear that life is so busy and hectic for you right now. But I’m sure you’ll figure it all out. I’ve watched you juggle a lot over the years and always come up triumphant. But during the “figuring it out phase,” I do wish you peace 🙂
Wow, Claire! You truly do shift my perspective. We are always in a hurry in my house. I tend to shut down when I’m overwhelmed, but not in a good way. I let EVERYTHING leave my mind – not good – I tend to forget things I shouldn’t. The key is to make time for Jesus. Peace always come when I spend time with Him. The truth is, no one is too busy to give ten minutes a day to God. I spend that much time wondering how I’m going to accomplish all I need to do. When I get myself in a state it really does affect the climate in our house. Thanks for remindng me how to find calm in the midst of confusion.
Elaine, I love your comment that no one is too busy to give ten minutes to God. I have found that that’s all it takes sometimes to refocus, refuel, and reconnect to Him. Once I do that, everything else just falls into place. And so, my coffee now brews, and I’m going to go get that ten minutes. Thanks for reminding me 🙂