Does life feel chaotic? Do you find yourself wondering how to find peace in the middle of all the chaos and conflict?
As a busy, often overwhelmed, society with responsibilities piled on our shoulders, we have plenty of chaos. But is peace waiting just outside of our reach on the other side of it all? Or is it possible to have peace regardless of what’s going on in our lives?
Pew Research found that 2 out of every 5 people report lacking a feeling of peace and wellbeing the majority of the time. Among those who did not affiliate with a religion, that number rises to 3 out of every 5 people who say they don’t feel a sense of peace and wellbeing more often than once or twice a month.
The truth is, we all get distracted, annoyed, and unsettled. Most of us have yet to find a place where there isn’t at least some sort of conflict. Does that mean peace is an evasive emotion only brought on by the perfect circumstances?
As it turns out, finding peace is simpler than we think. Peace isn’t a fleeting and ever-evading emotion, and finding peace starts with understanding what peace really is.
How to Find Peace in 3 Steps
Step 1: Understand what true peace is
What is peace?
The dictionary definition of peace is defined as the absence of conflict. It’s “freedom from disturbance.”
While that sounds nice, who has ever reached a place where they’re completely free of conflict and disturbance? Even on our best days, I think we can all agree we still feel like we’re chasing an ever-elusive sense of inner peace.
True peace is a state of being found in the confrontation of undesirable circumstances with the mindset and belief that the outcome of those circumstances will turn out for good.
For Christians, this sense of peace comes from the experienced first-hand knowledge that God is in control, and therefore such a peace is a prevalent feature of their walk with God.
For people who know what true peace is, they find peace even when their house is a wreck and their kids are going wild. They know peace when they have no money and bills that are unpaid. Over and over, they report seeing God come through and do amazing things.
They still see bad things play out without what we would consider a “happy” ending. And yet they still have peace in the midst of those times as well.
So, if peace doesn’t seem to be contingent on circumstances, the only explanation is, our culture is misdefining what peace is.
Peace isn’t a bi-product of perfect circumstances aligning where nothing interferes with our desires. Yet that’s what we’re taught in school, at home, at church, and pretty much everywhere else growing up. We’re taught that good things only come from good performance.
We’re taught to do well on tests so we can make good grades. We’re taught to clean our rooms so we can go outside and play. We’re taught to get good jobs so we can be successful. In church, we’re taught to do what God says so we won’t go to hell.
So we naturally assume that peace is the same way. We assume that we will only find peace when we’ve done the necessary actions to eliminate everything undesirable from our immediate environment. Then we wonder why anxiety, depression, and suicide are on the rise.
No, peace isn’t found in the absence of conflict. It’s found in the confrontation of conflict.
In other words, peace is found when we address head on the fact that we can’t fix our brokenness. That realization then drives us to put our hope in Jesus and not in ourselves. That’s where real peace is found.
Step 2: Minimize avoidance
When we do everything we can to minimize conflict and friction in our lives in the hopes that we’ll have peace, we actually end up bring more stress on ourselves. That’s because the world is broken, and the more we try to mend it back together, the more we realize that there’s more that’s broken than we can fix.
Your kids won’t act right. Your boss that isn’t leading well. Your mental and physical health that seems to be fleeting. But the more you try to fix these things on your own strength, the worse they get. Improving these things is a great goal, but fixing them isn’t realistic. And it isn’t your job.
When you embrace the fact that you’re not the world’s fixer, you start to feel free. When you realize that you don’t have to be perfect in order to find peace, it’s like a giant weight lifted off your shoulders. You don’t have to get it “right” all the time. In fact, the more you try to get it right, the more you realize how wrong you really are.
It’s like trying to put a shredded painting back together. It might look good when you start, but it isn’t long before each piece you add is just another reminder of how fragmented the picture is.
Because shredded paintings are a pain to put back together, and they never really look good when they’re put back together anyways. That’s because shredded paintings shouldn’t be mended – they should be repainted. And thank God we’re not the Painter.
Step 3: Give yourself room to be broken
It’s time to embrace the fact that your peace is not found in your ability to do the right things. Peace is found in the fact that even though we’re all a broken mess, the world keeps spinning because we’re made and accepted by God. So we don’t have to be perfect or fix things. Once we embrace that, we’ll start to see that brokenness can’t be fixed; it can only be rebuilt. And God’s the only one who can do that. That realization – which admittedly requires a fair amount of faith – takes the burden off your shoulders.
Contrary to cultural belief, you can have peace in the middle of conflict and chaos. It just requires you to stop trying to remove chaos and start addressing it for what it is: a reminder that your peace was never something to chase in the first place. It’s a gift that only comes by being okay with being broken and allowing God to do the work of restoring you.
Because remember: Peace isn’t found in the absence of conflict. It’s found in the confrontation of it.