“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10
After my slightly less than successful week spent practicing Joy—okay, it was an epic fail—I went into this week’s challenge with a firmer determination to be more at Peace for seven days. Of course, like the other challenging weeks before this one—and I’m sure the ones to come, as well—it was not always easy, and sometimes I really had to work to keep my Peace. It wasn’t just about begrudgingly accepting the circumstances for what they were or trying to avoid at all costs any situation that might disturb my calm; no, I came to realize—and I’m glad I did—that the True Peace I was trying to exhibit and practice this week was all about being able to stand in the midst of a stressful circumstance and still come out unruffled. I honestly had no idea if I would be able to accomplish this, to actually be totally at Peace and tranquil when my human nature is just itching to freak out, but I knew this week was especially important, so I gave it the old college try … Whatever that means (I’m in college, and there are plenty of slackers out there, so I have no idea who came up with that!).
Now, I’m not generally someone who gets stressed-out easily or panics over the little things, but we all know how Week 2 went when I overestimated my optimism and level of Joy, so I was a little wary over what this week of Peace would bring. Little did I know that because I had actually prepared myself beforehand, I was better equipped to handle stressful situations, and the instant I started to feel my calm slipping, I reminded myself that I actually needed to make an effort this week. Somehow, that constant reminder kept me from going over the edge and losing my composure completely, even in situations that normally pushed my buttons. Like I said before, it was not easy, especially when the general insanity of life crept in and wanted to make this week of the challenge an automatic fail. But I kept on it, constantly reminding myself to take a deep breath, count to five before speaking, and to not freak out when I was running late, because panicking was not going to get me to class any faster. And trust me, it doesn’t.
Actually, the longer I stayed at Peace, my Joy level actually began to increase because wasn’t worrying about certain things, and as a result I started to show more Love. I don’t know about you all, but I’m beginning to realize just how connected all the Fruits of the Spirit are and how each one hinges on the other. It might seem intimidating to hear that—I have to emulate all of them?!—but I have said it once and I’ll say it again: It is a process. I didn’t start this challenge as a forceful guide that has to be followed to the T (I also don’t know what that means, either; I gotta get out more). I began this challenge as a way to, well, challenge myself and improve my outlook on life and the way I treat others. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and you shouldn’t expect to excel at each one of these Fruits, either; though if you do, kudos! But if you decide to join me for this challenge, do yourself a favor and remember that nobody is perfect, so don’t stress it! We all stumble and fall, but the important thing is that you’re willing to run in the first place and are determined to get back up.