What does peace mean to you?

The dictionary defines peace as a state of tranquility or quiet, freedom from civil disturbance, harmony in personal relationships, freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.

Overall peace begins with peace of mind. Duke University did a study on peace of mind and found factors contributing greatly to emotional and mental instability are:

1) Being suspicious and resentful.

2) Living in the past.

3) Wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change.

4) Avoiding the living world.

5) Indulging in self-pity when life hands you a raw deal.

6) Ignoring the virtues of love, humor, compassion and loyalty.

7) Expecting too much of yourself.

We can become vehicles and conduits of peace into this world if we put into practice the way of peace. When we put peace into practice, we WILL find peace in all areas of our lives. We will begin to experience our purpose and God’s purpose for us, deep down inside us.

This time of year, we tend to seek peace in material things, but we won’t find it there. The hard economic climate may be affecting some of us more than others. We may be restless and feel peace is far away. It isn’t in acquiring things, but instead seeking Christ, where we actually find peace.

This Christmas, it is important that we keep the main character the main thing. Jesus should be central, yet so often we lose that focus in preparing for the holidays. We may change our schedules several times to accommodate a dinner party or gift exchange, but we don’t make the same sacrifice or effort when it comes to changing plans so we can attend a church service. We become so focused on not offending anyone by our beliefs in Jesus Christ, that we completely remove him from our holiday preparations and our greetings to others.

How can we keep Jesus the main character in Christmas? How can we find peace?

We can find inner peace through outward action, by practicing peace. How do we practice peace?

When we hear people gossiping about others, we can offer a good word about that person instead of joining in and spreading ill words.

When people are experiencing brokenness of body and spirit, we can do whatever is possible and necessary to help them heal.

When someone is enduring sickness and death is near, offer a moment of life’s joy.

If we have turbulent relationships in our lives, we can do what we can to bring about peace. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Pray for your enemies that they may be blessed and find peace. It’s easy to pray for our friends or church members or good people. If we love our enemies, we release all of that frustration and anger and hatred, and in that, we find peace.

Finally, we can listen to others. To find peace, people need to feel heard and to know they are not alone in their suffering. In all my time working with youth and being a mom to two sons, I’ve learned something about young people of all ages… they just want to be heard. They want to feel important to you, and the easiest way to show them they are special is to listen to them. And while this is something vital to remember when working with young people, it isn’t any different than dealing with adults. People want to be heard. They want to feel important. They want your time.

So this holiday season, let the hope and peace of Christ assure you that no matter the situation, peace can prevail.