Nothing really prepares you for the unexpected. You cannot worry enough. You can organize enough. You cannot get your life in order enough. The unexpected is just that – unexpected. When it hits, you do not see it coming. You can only recover.
Sometimes the unexpected blindsides you. Other times you see it coming. Either way, it knocks you off your feet, and how quickly you get back up is deeply personal. We all heal differently. We all handle crisis differently. As such, I am not here to tell you how to heal. I am here instead to explain how you may find peace in the middle of panic.
For some of us, the recent pandemic was not personal. We weathered it like pros because we did not lose jobs. We did not lose income. We did not lose sleep. We did not lose people who mean the world to us, but everyone has at some point found herself in the middle of chaos.
For some of us the current panic (#blacklivesmatter) hits close to come. We understand the experiences of those whose skin reflects the brown of summer under the sun year round.
For others, the panic is an overreaction of extremists.
Others lost everything because of a disease they could not control.
Whether because of a pandemic, panic, or personal strife, people have watched the lives that they worked so carefully to build, and fought so hard to keep, fall apart in the blink of an eye. All the while, there was absolutely, positively nothing they could have done differently. There was nothing they could have done to prepare themselves for this moment. Here, they find themselves attempting to keep going when everything in them needs the world just to stop for a moment so they can breathe, so they can process what has just happened.
As a girl who has lived through moments where she would rather just not, that is the bottom line, “I would rather not.” I would prefer that life take a few steps back. I would prefer an alternate script, a different ending. Yet, here I am, and this is it.
Consequently, I had to learn to find peace because the bottom line is that life goes on so I have to go on too. It was in the midst of these times, the dis-ease that affected only my small piece of the world, that I had to learn to be the calm in chaos. I had to find the “peace that passes all understanding” dead smack in the middle of being angry at God.
For anyone who has ever wanted to know how to find peace with or without a pandemic, with or without panic, I offer you these solutions in no particular order. I am an not expert, but I know what it is like to need peace…and I know what it is like to have it. It makes all the difference when your mind is calm even though the world is crazy, even before you have processed and problem solved your way out.
God is bigger than your anger. He is bigger than your fears, your doubts, and your discouragement. God can handle whatever it is you throw at Him. He simply needs you to keep talking. He needs you hit Him with your best shots. The reality is that as you pray, God starts moving before you can even get the words right. Leave with Him all the broken pieces and broken promises. Leave with Him all the hurt and the pain, and then wait…and watch…and listen. Some of my favorite verses mean the most not because I know all the good Christian things to say, but because I had nothing left but a broken prayer, a broken spirit, and a broken heart.
“The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14)
I tried to stand like the song said… like the verse said, “and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). But, I did not have standing left in me. It was all too much so God responded, “If I can talk to wind and waves then certainly I can talk to your broken prayers, broken spirit, and broken heart.”
“Peace, be still.” Mark 4:39
2. Surrender control
Nothing shows you how out of control you are of your life like the unexpected. Leave your life in the hands on the only One in control. If you have learned nothing else in the middle of this panic, you have learned that no one has any idea what to do or what the future holds. No one knows the right way to handle things. Everyone is simply hoping for the best. The best thing that has ever happened to me is to walk in obedience and watch my world crumble. It was during that time I took my anger to straight to the feet of Jesus, and told Him that He put me in this position. He was going to need to find a way out. He was going to need to fix this unfixable mess!
And I smirked. I even added a, “so there” for emphasis. What happened next was inexplicable. He found the solution to my no solution situation. He worked while I watched in awe. He never asked for my help. He simply asked for my trust.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3: 5-6
When you surrender control, you learn to trust. In the middle of trust is peace.
3. Love more
When life is falling apart around you, revert to love. Default to love. You learn who means the most to you. You learn what means the most to you. You can absolutely get lost in love. There is something magical about doing what you love and even more magical about sharing those moments with the people you love. My fondest memories under the stay at home order were playing with balloons, and playing in the backyard, and dance parties inside, and obstacle courses inside. In my house there was love and laughter. Jesus was there.
In your darkest moments… in your broken heart, and your broken spirit, and your broken prayers, find love. And when you cannot find love, show love. And when you do not have an iota off strength left to show love, then be love because “God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
Life is going to hit us all with curve balls. The events that cause us the most pain and panic are unavoidable. If we could have avoided them, we would have avoided them. Yet here we are.
If we have to live it anyway, we should at least have some peace about it. And while we cannot control the world, we can control our response when we are right in the midst of panic mode. We have never lived this experience before. Our job is not to figure it out but rather submit every single piece of it to the One who has all the answers.
What are some ways you have found peace in a world of panic?
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