The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! (NAB, Nm 6:24-26)
There is a saying that peace begins within oneself. The reframe from a popular song states, “Let there be peace on earth; and let it begin with me” which was originally written by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson, a husband and wife team in 1955. The song became famous throughout the years by many well-known performing artists.
There is probably one thing that everyone can agree on and that is that they want peace. The problem is that most of us have funny ways of going about getting peace. Even in trying to avoid confrontation, I myself have an uncanny knack for putting my foot in my own mouth. And many good intentions go awry and easily get misinterpreted.
When I try to summon up peace within myself the well quickly comes up dry. I know another old saying, “You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.” It is clear that I am not the author of peace. This is not to say that the quest for peace shouldn’t be attempted in my own corner of the world. But we all know too well how it is so easy to get bogged down with hurt feelings, rejections, lack of forgiveness, and an accompanying desire for justice and satisfaction.
The Results of Lack of Peace within Oneself
Lack of peace within oneself can lead to all sorts of emotional, physical, social, and spiritual difficulties. Symptoms of stress abound such as back aches, headaches, muscle tension, sleep disturbances, malaise, stomach upsets, loss of appetite, frustration, anxiousness, and an overall lack of joy and negative attitude. Some sources of difficulty in obtaining peace originate in being unable to forgive and to accept forgiveness, placing unrealistic expectations on oneself and others, having an inability to let go of the past, and having a tendency to worry. Many even place blame on God and lack gratitude for life itself.
My own family knows that “if Mommy’s not happy ain’t nobody happy.” I am amazed at how many sayings and puns have emerged from the condition of being just plain miserable!
So Then Where’s the Peace?
According to an article by Lynne Shallcross in the January 2012 issue of Counseling Today, many of the blockages to peace and happiness are linked to some sort of need to forgive. Deep seated grudges result in persons carrying around negative emotions and poor self-concepts. Instead of hurting the object of their frustration, they actually become the prisoner of their own feelings.
Developing the skill of accepting life and others as they are instead of imposing conditional expectations is a key to achieving peace and happiness. Forgiveness is a multi-step process. It is also an act of one’s own free will. The necessity of learning to live in the present moment by releasing the past is also important aspect of healing.
From a psychological standpoint, Mary Grieco, director of the Midwest Institute for Forgiveness, states that a person must first be committed to make a change. Then they must express their emotions in a constructive fashion. Next is releasing any expectations of the situation and restoring boundaries. This process involves opening up one’s heart to receive healing from a higher power (Counseling Today, p. 43).
Help from the Prince of Peace.
This step particularly excites me as a Christian as one can obtain help from the Prince of Peace. From my own experience of having the well of my own resources running dry, it is great to know there is an inexhaustible source of healing from God. The process of soliciting God aids a person to receive and send unconditional love to the people who had hurt them. A very practical way of sending unselfish love is to make the decision to pray for those persons and to actually do it. Such a heart can change very quickly when it prays.The final step involves being able to recognize the good in the person or situation that had originally caused the pain. A person who goes through this can genuinely say that God is love and that God is good.
The World Day of Peace
In the Catholic Church New Years Day is known as the solemnity of Mary Mother of God. Since 1967, January 1 has also been designated as the World Day of Peace. It is interesting that the Mother of God is also known as the Queen of Peace. This year’s papal message highlights the theme of “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace.”
Finally but not less important, if we are Catholic, we also know that not only can we be forgiving but also we can receive forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession. It is interesting that this Sacrament is also called Reconciliation because it repairs one’s relationship to God and others.