When I looked up an antonym for peaceful, all I found was “unpeaceful”. Okay, that’s fair but I was thinking of something a little more descriptive than that. How about “chaotic”, “draining”, “tense”, exhausting”, “scary” or “stressful?” I’m sure you could add other words to that list. What emotions do you feel when your home doesn’t seem to be peaceful?
Depending on your life, there are so many situations that could create exactly the opposite of a peace full home. Maybe someone you live with is struggling with a physical or emotional illness; maybe that person is you. Maybe you’re in a relationship that’s toxic (or even dangerous) and home is the last place you want to be. Maybe you’re alone and lonely (or worse not alone and lonely). Maybe this year you’ve lost someone very dear to you. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with juggling a job and the house and the kids and an aging parent. Maybe your home is filled with so much physical stuff that you don’t have room to breath, let alone experience calm and peace. Maybe you’re over your head in debt, can’t pay the rent, or put food on the table, let alone buy gifts.
When we don’t know how to create a home full of peace we often decide that it’s the other person should change. We just know that the other person would be so much happier if he/she was more like the way we wanted him/her to be. We think things like, “If only those people could see themselves through my eyes”; “if only they knew how much happier they would be if they did what I think.” Then we sit back and wonder why we don’t feel peaceful. And what’s funny is that chances are good that those very people are thinking about how much more peace full the home would be if we would change!
Rabbi Harold Kushner said, “when we look upon the story of our life, we will not think about the job we had, or how much money we had in the bank. We will ponder our relationships and reflect on the people who mattered to us. In the end, it is all about love.
“Love, what if we were able to take a deep breath and work on love? If we did that would we experience more peace? Sadly, during the holiday season, people often tend to experience even less peace in their homes. Of course, the irony of that isn’t lost on us. We’ve traded the joy of the holiday with the “stuff” of it. We’re impatient with others. We become exhausted. We get caught up in the “wow, look at how wonderful everyone else’s life is” phenomena, and that robs of even more peace.
This prayer was written by Teresa of Ávila in the 1500s. Its timelessness inspires me.
“May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”