Chasing Peace (and skipping the affirmation)

The fear of inadequacy has chased me my entire life. You can blame any number of things from my past or present, but let’s not. Rather, let’s talk about the struggle this presents in the dailies.

Of all the theological concepts in Scripture, grace has always troubled me most. I love the idea of it and I believe in it! But living it is a challenge. Fearing inadequacy, I want to earn my way (even when I know I can’t) and prove my worth (even when I know evidence is scant).

God’s grace absolutely is real.
And so is my humanity.

In that imperfect humanity, fear sometimes out-muscles the knowledge and questions assault me. Is it enough? Are you enough? Are you doing enough?

Comparison almost always serves as a trigger. Oh, that blasted social media!

I see friends making a difference in so many amazing arenas. They’re fighting against poverty, injustice, political crisis, and depression. They’re raising awareness about inequality and disease and literally saving lives with their acumen. They’re bringing beauty into the world. They’re educating their children (and others), raising the next generation of world-changers. I celebrate every single one of them!

But then that nagging little voice asks: What are YOU doing?

Do any of you hear it? Does it plague you too?

Today was one of those days.

The sun rose as I Iay in bed. I checked messages and then, without purpose, scrolled through social media, waiting for my husband to wake. By the time he did, tears silently coursed down toward my pillow. I confessed to him: “I feel so lost. What am I supposed to be DOING? How do I know if I’m doing enough??”

We prayed together (as is our morning habit), then began the day, all my questions left unanswered. After my shower, I grabbed my phone again. An alert popped up on my home screen: the verse of the day.

“And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.”

— Colossians 3:15 (HCSB)

This isn’t the verse I would search for or choose when chasing peace, but it’s the one God gave me.

Why? Why THIS verse? I don’t know every reason, but I want to tell you what I see.

I don’t need affirmation and God knows it.

Affirmation — Oh, you’ve done so much! Here’s a list to remind you and make you feel better. — centers the conversation back on ME and my abilities and accomplishments. That’s not what I need. My focus should be on the Messiah and on the body, not on me.

This isn’t about me or them.

That “body” — the great and global collection of Jesus-followers — includes me. The work we do together matters. It’s not about Kim and Sarah and Cheryl and Latasha or whoever the visible front person is. Because we all have a job to do. Sometimes I’m running lead, and sometimes I get to stand behind and celebrate, encourage, and bolster. We are all part of the body, unified to bring glory to God and His Kingdom to earth.

Gratitude goes such a long way.

Whenever my heart gets out of check, whenever fears and doubts attack me, giving thanks re-centers me. It reminds of all that God has done for me, all He has given me — spiritual, physical, material, experiential, emotional … EVERYTHING! And in so doing eliminates fear.

Maybe let peace chase us.

This verse tells us that peace can “control [our] hearts.” Let me get a little grammar geeky for a moment. Control is an active, not passive, verb. Furthermore, it’s active upon an inactive (passive) object. In other words, our hearts can rest while peace does the work. And who directs that peace? The Messiah.

Our pastor reminded us this week that we are human BEings, not human DOings. Our value is found in who we are — redeemed children of God becoming more Christ-like each day — rather than in the specific activities or titles we pursue.

Maybe we need to rest more in the BE than the DO. Rather than chasing affirmation, maybe let peace chase us for a while.

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