I caught myself drifting off as I tried to actively listen to the bald headed man sitting on the other side of the desk. There were about 6 people crammed into the office, but I was in my own world.
“Quick smoke break after this!” Said the voice in my head.
“No…..no wait, you don’t smoke anymore.” I thought back.
“Oh yea…..we’ll dang, maybe I’ll just go out back and hang with the smokers to get a whiff or two.”
“Well, is that smart? Will it make me want one even more?”
“I don’t know…..it could go one of two ways. It could help the craving or it could make it worse.”
“Maybe just have another blow pop. Yea, that’s what I’ll do, I’ll have another blow pop and take a quick stroll around the building.”
“You’re gonna get fat from all those blow pops.”
“Right…..but I expected some weight gain. It’s better than smoking, right?”
“Not fitting into your pants can’t be good for you either.”
“I have to pick a poison…..I’ll eat now and make up for it after.”
I’m not sure how long the conversation in my head went on for, but the next thing I knew the meeting was over and everyone was scrambling for their things. I had no clue what had just happened. It was like an out of body experience. I shoved another blow pop in my mouth and headed for the door.
Quitting smoking definitely played an impact on my productivity at work. When I should have been engaged and strategizing with my co-workers, I was having very detailed two way conversations in my head instead. Those conversations were more like arguments, or constant banter. There were many times I drove myself insane from being consumed with these conversions.
Have you ever walked to the pantry, opened the door, pulled out a snack, and then threw it back on the shelf and ran away? It’s ok, we’ve all been there! What is going through your mind at that time? If you’re like me, it’s probably a battle between should I, or shouldn’t I? It’s the cognitive dissonance of wanting to do something that you really don’t want to do.
A lot of situations open the door for this internal conflict. For example,
- Quitting a habit like smoking or drinking
- Trying to diet or lose weight
- Debating whether or not to tell someone like it is or be the bigger person and walk away
- Conflict over saving money vs spending money
- Going to church or convincing ourselves God doesn’t care
There are plenty of other situations we can add to the list. Regardless of the topic, the result is the same. It’s a war within. We literally go to battle against ourselves when we argue back and forth in our minds.
The opposite of war is peace and the Christmas season heavily promotes this word. What does it really mean and how do we achieve this state of being?
The word peace is mentioned over 400 times in the Bible. If you look up the definition of the word, results vary from “the normal freedom from civil commotion and violence of a community” to “untroubled; tranquil; content.” In the Bible, the word also has different applications, such as inner peace, peace with God and false peace. It seems like peace (and quiet) are two desires that have been longed for since the beginning of time!
As a person who has overcome several forms of addiction, my definition of peace is a form of freedom. Someone battling addiction is in a constant war within themselves. I would often think, I just want to be free of the prison my mind is in. I want to be free of the time consumed going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth in debate with myself. I want to be free of my racing mind. I just want Peace!
Looking back it seems I was referring to inner peace, but I’ve learned that in order to have inner peace, you must also have peace with God and an awareness of false peace. The Bible refers to false peace as individuals who are deceitful and make promises of something good but don’t deliver them. Clearly, some things never change as many people still do this today, especially corrupt politicians. For me, my false peace has been a form of lying to myself or trying to sell myself on what is often the path of least resistance. If I can sell myself on these ideas, I’ll experience temporary relief in the form of peace.
- “I’ll just do this one more time, then I’m done!”
- “I deserve this!”
- “Speaking my mind will prove I’m not a pushover!”
- “You only live once, right? I’ll spend less next week!”
- “God isn’t a place, I can spend time with him anywhere!”
These are examples of what it sounds like when I chase something external rather than work on my mind and heart, which is the path less traveled by most. Walking down this trail requires the peace of God to be with us. Psalm 34:14 says, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
When Jesus was born into this world He was called the Prince of Peace. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Jesus IS peace. To establish a state of inner peace and peace within our lives, all we have to do is invite Him in. It IS that simple. Invite Him in and be OPEN to receiving His spirit of peace. When I catch myself in a state of mental panic and distress, I instantly call on the Holy Spirit to fill my mind, body and spirit with peace. Whether my dilemma is large (should I take the job or not) or small (should a sweet potato bake make the Thanksgiving menu) I surrender the situation to God.
I’ve learned that God wants us to give Him our problems. He doesn’t want us to carry our burdens, He wants to carry them for us. I tear up with gratitude as I type these words for all the burdens He has openly received from me. It’s hard for me to believe the extra weight I constantly carried around in comparison to the freedom I feel today.
This Christmas season, the greatest gift you can give is to yourself. Through awareness of false peace and with the peace of God, you will find the inner peace we all long for. You will find the best present is His presence within us, winning our war.