Not too long ago a colleague of mine stopped me and asked if they could ask a personal question. She said she had noticed a change in me over the last 3 years that she didn’t quite know how to define but wanted to know. I asked what it was she wanted to know and she asked… “what has changed in you? Did you find Jesus? What has caused you become so peaceful?”
I’d have to say that it set me back a bit. I mean… it caught me off guard. Unexpected to say the least. It did please me a little to have someone else see in me a peace that they had previously noticed was not there or at least was not evident. If in any way someone else noticed that some change had taken place that caused more peace in my life, well, I was happy that this had happened.
So… What was it that happened? What had changed? Had I found Jesus?
I had to say no. That was not what had happened. This was not the change that took place.
So what was the change?
Well, a number of things had happened. Years ago (about 16 years ago now) I had gone through a rough divorce. As a result of that divorce I became ostracized by well-meaning people of my own faith at the time. Too old to be in the “singles” groups. Not married so I couldn’t be in the married couples groups. So… I felt left out. In fact, I was left out. By many churches. Not all of them. Just a vast majority of them. That was around 16 years ago. I then spent some time out of the church all together but not too long. I think it was about a year. I went back and, in an attempt to find a connection somewhere, I found a church willing to accept those people that were or had been divorced. This is more common now but it wasn’t as much 16 years ago.
Wanting love again, I found what I thought might work by looking in a place I felt safe. In the church. I found another woman who had similar interests. We dated and eventually got married. So… I was married again. After only two years of being divorced. Not too bright I know. And it was indeed another mistake. I’m not blaming anyone. We both played our part in causing the problems. The real problem is that it just wasn’t really right in the first place even though I had convinced myself that it was. Looking back I now feel I must have just been lonely. At any rate, that too ended in divorce. That was a bit over 3 years ago.
So… again, what caused the change in me? Though in some ways I’d have to say that the divorce made a difference, the real difference was that I made a decision. It appears to me to be a decision that I will never regret. A decision to live life, on my own terms, in my own way, the best way I know how.
I laid down my claim to be anything but who I am. Accept me or reject me. Your choice. I am what I am. I am who I am. Nothing more and nothing less. No better than anyone and no worse either. Basically, I accepted myself. I began to look at life with a different perspective. With a different view. From a different portal as it were. No more playing church. No more trying to have more than the Smiths or Jones’ or whoever. No more trying to think myself better than someone else. No more regretting who and what I was. There was a new beginning. The beginning process of breaking down the walls that confined me and opening myself to the light that was now before me. I began to be at peace with myself. In my own way I began to be at peace with all things.
I had some help. There were books and friends, videos and articles and more books. But the real truth I found was coming from within me. It was coming from deep down inside myself. My desire became a quest for truth. It meant laying down some of my beliefs that had been ingrained in me for most of my life. It meant laying aside some of the cultural brainwashing that happens to all of us. It meant opening my eyes and my mind to things that before now had been closed off from viewing for fear of some retribution from peers, colleges, friends or family.
Growth only comes as a result of struggle else the growth that has grown is weak.
Spiritual growth is not peace but it can have a great deal to do with whether or not you have it. To me the origin of peace is within you. It is a decision you make.
Freedom is not peace. Peace is not always freedom. Freedom is not free. Peace can have a cost. But at least in my book it is worth it.