How often do you wish you could have peace? Did you know that no matter what, the peace of God is available to us any time?
“Whoever Brings Blessing Will be Enriched” Proverbs 11:25
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Whether you’re used to experiencing anxiety, anger, or fear, I can relate.
Here’s my story.
My love story with Michel
I remember January 31st of 2016, a beautiful cool last day of a special month.
I had a boyfriend. His name was Michel.
I wanted to help Michel feel special, so I prepared a picnic for him. Homemade food and a beautiful view of a fountain on a small lake.
The scenery was breath-taking. It all took place at Perimeter Church late Sunday afternoon.
Why was I with my boyfriend at church picnicking late Sunday afternoon? We were getting ready to go to pre-engagement counseling class Perimeter Church offers called “Right Path.” Michel signed us up for that class because he had told me he wanted to marry me a few weeks after we started dating. He chose Perimeter Church because he graduated from Metro Atlanta Seminary there (according to him).
I said I would need pre-engagement counseling before I could respond to that idea. That’s how we got into the “Right Path.”
We were hungry. We were about to go to class and learn about marriage. A picnic seemed to be the best way to spend our time together to make Michel feel special.
The weather was cool that day, so I brought a blanket. I was wearing a black jacket with a leather belt from H&M to stay warm.
picture of us getting engaged from IG
I was setting up the picnic, turned around, and there was Michel kneeling in front of me with a ring. Are you curious to know my response? First I yelled “What the hell?!” No, actually, I’m not kidding…
After I yelled that, I looked at Michel and saw a future together. I saw the man I respected and loved. Seeing him humbling himself and kneeling before me with the ring, not only did I say YES to his marriage proposal but I also said this:
“Michel, you are the most Christ-like man I’ve ever met. With your behaviors, actions and interactions with me and others, you’ve exhibited the Fruit of the Spirit” – and I named the nine – “I’ll be honored to spend the rest of my life with you.”
Michel worked at a mega-church in Alpharetta at the time and portrayed himself a seminary graduate who loved Jesus. It seemed that God was his priority.
All the qualities I listed verbally as his, he truly exhibited in our dating relationship. Most of the time when I thought about Michel, I thought “Christ-like.”
You can imagine the size of the deception I realized I was lured into when after the wedding night Michel changed completely, switched his priorities, and abandoned our marriage.
I remember as if it were yesterday: our master bedroom, I’m sitting on the side of the bed, he’s sitting on the floor and leaning on the wall. And he is saying to me: “I’m not interested in this marriage, all I want is to be an IronMan and complete in Kona…”
Michel filed for a divorce four months after our wedding.
A mind that is not steadfast
Now, Michel and I were living in two separate bedrooms, and my dog Bruno was confused about the household changes. He wanted to be with both of us at the same time but it wasn’t possible so Bruno was in and out each bedroom all the time.
Bruno is a Red-White Cocker Spaniel. He always ran outside when I opened the front or garage doors of our house. And he’d run right in. In and out! Such a funny cutie!
Running in and out, Bruno would carry inside whatever was outside.
I was the only person who cleaned our entire 1800 sq. ft 2-story marital residence at Adair Park in Cumming, GA.
I had two back injuries from two falls in our four months of marriage. Cleaning was painful and tough. So, I tried to keep the outside clean so that Bruno wouldn’t bring in trash and dirt.
Michel had not been taking care of the house or the yard. Most of the time, our neighbor Jerry mowed our lawn. Jerry did a great job leaving the lawn clean-looking.
One evening, Michel must have felt particularly inspired or something. He got the mower out to take care of
of the grass!
It was truly shocking because Michel didn’t care about the house or the grass most of the time. So, I went to see the miracle with my very own eyes.
I was stunned when I witnessed what he was doing. Unlike Jerry who picked all the trashed grass while mowing the lawn, Michel was leaving all the grass in front of our house on the lawn! I was speechless…
I just cleaned the house. Bruno ran out. And what do you think Bruno brought inside the house with him? All that grass trash! Who was now to clean the house again? Me… with my two back injuries.
I asked Michel to pick up the grass. He refused and said he will do whatever he wants to do. He said the trash grass will be staying on the lawn.
Michel continued trashing our front yard.
l asked him one more time and informed him that if doesn’t stop trashing the yard and the house with that grass, I’ll pick up the grass and spread it all over his wardrobe.
Why wardrobe? His clothes and IronMan medals were the only two things Michel cared about.
He didn’t stop and continued trashing the yard with a smile. I got a bunch of grass he left all over the place and I neatly spread it on Michel’s wardrobe. I then took a picture of it and texted it to him for revenge.
As my hurt and anger were stirring up on the inside, I thought to myself…
Why did I do that?
I knew that Michel was trashing the yard and the house on purpose because he had practiced mental cruelty on me very openly in various ways for some time by then.
I felt hurt because he wouldn’t clean the house and I had to do all the cleaning all over again despite my injuries.
I felt confused seeing him trash the place I just cleaned and was wondering if he had a heart inside his chest at all.
I felt furious witnessing the “Christ-like” seminary graduate and at-church-working “good man” I just married a few months ago turned to be a cruel deceiver.
I let my anger out and it only compounded it into rage.
Isaiah 26:3 says this:
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
Was my mind steadfast in trusting God? No. My mind was not trusting God, it was too preoccupied with my emotions. Did I have peace? No. I was in turmoil and it was long-lasting.
I would have surely preferred peace to that self-imposed trouble.
Why was that trouble self-imposed?
Because I already knew that I dealt with a cruel deceiver. What was the point of asking him about the things I knew he did with the purpose of hurting me?
I got hurt but I could have chosen peace instead.
Trouble in this world
Why as Christians don’t we just have a peaceful life all the time? Why can’t we just have a drama-free existence? Why do we need troubles to begin with?
God wants us to have faith, hope, joy, peace, and intimacy with Christ. God wants us to be Christ-like.
But how can we possibly develop His virtues if we have everything we want and don’t have to work hard for anything?
How could we possibly stretch and grow beyond our comfort zone if we were kept in the comfort zone all the time?
How would we develop our perspective, grow in faith, change our ways, and glorify God by the results of our transformation if we didn’t have challenges to overcome?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus has overcome the world! He conquered death! Why be so concerned about Michel’s evil-doing? I thought that peace was not available to me while Michel was mistreating me.
I didn’t know where peace was supposed to come from and I naively thought that Michel’s actions were supposed to be my source of peace.
Where peace comes from
Peace is like a gift. When we give our lives to Christ, we inherit His perfect peace.
Have you ever walked into a room with a beautiful Christmas tree there seeing clearly the gift wrapped beautifully and marked with your name?
And then you got distracted and left, forgetting the gift…
The gift was already yours. It had your name on it. It belonged to you. It was assigned to you so you can have it. Its purpose was for you to enjoy it.
The only reason why you still didn’t have the gift is because you didn’t accept it. You didn’t take the gift that was yours, so you couldn’t enjoy your gift.
I found out from studying the Bible that the perfect peace of Christ was already mine because when I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior I was given the gift of peace.
The only reason why I had not yet had the peace was because I never reached out for the gift to take it and have it.
Once I understood where peace was supposed to come from, I reached out for the gift that was already mine and I begun to enjoy peace at all times in every way.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 says this:
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”
If we know the source of peace, we can have peace at all times and in every way because the Lord of peace Himself gives it to us.
Lord’s peace is available to us on-demand like Netflix. We just need to switch to the right mode intentionally.
Who takes care of trouble
I was so anxious about Michel, his cruel actions, our short marriage, his divorce proceedings, the grass he left outside, the cleanness of the house on the inside…
Being anxious became my habit and I mastered it to perfection.
I had no peace.
Philippians 4:6-7 says this.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
If I could relive that evening in accordance with Philippians 4:6-7, I would have still noted what Michel was doing. I would have still known his cruel intentions from his smile. But! When anger would have began making its way into my heart, I would have guarded my heart with prayer.
I would have shared my anxiety with God, thanking Him for all His goodness, and I would have asked God to take away the rage I felt on the inside and give me His peace that passes all understanding.
And I would have peacefully enjoyed the rest of my evening.
Peace as a gift from God
In my conversations with God about that incident, a Biblical poem was born called “God’s Peace.”
It reflects the difficult but rewarding journey I traveled from having a turmoil-filled inner life to being at peace finally.
You’ll often hear me say: “I love my life!” I have peace, the gift from God I enjoy having, thanks to the divine realization that the gift was already mine.
Your peace rules now in my heart,
With love and joy and full devotion.
I don’t pursue or seek it hard –
From abiding in you comes this sacred emotion.
I cast my anxieties on you in prayer,
Because you care and your son for me you sacrificed.
I don’t do wrong for wrong and evade every naysayer,
Your peace guards my mind and heart in Jesus Christ.
You bless me with your peace in every situation,
So I’m not overcome by evil but by good.
My Everlasting Father, you gave me my salvation
And covenant of peace for earthly livelihood.
Have you reached out for the gift of God’s peace? If you have, memorize the Biblical affirmation below and practice it often.
I am peaceful
I have peace in every way.
It is perfect. It is sacred.
All the time my Lord is near,
And by Him my life’s directed.
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How is life different when you don’t allow external circumstances get the best of you but choose the perfect peace of Christ instead?
Share with me in the comments below so I can rejoice with you.
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Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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