By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Our modern lives are packed to the brim! We shuttle around from work, school, activities, social engagements, home, and all over again. Even our downtime is packed full of entertainment options. Quiet is not something we are accustomed to. We are in constant motion.
It's so interesting that God commands us in his word to 'be still and know He is God' (Psalm 46:10). God is aware that it's so very hard for us to sit still. Busyness is how the enemy distracts us from a peace-filled life. In our culture, being overworked and overwhelmed is a badge of honor. A mile-long to-do list and living with no margin is called success. Striving is the only way we know how to be.
How do we find peace in a life that is filled with hectic days? What does intentional living feel like when you are being pulled in ten different directions at all moments of the day?
I feel like the last decade of my life has been a long hectic day! Thankfully God has been gracious in teaching me how to be a peace-filled person, even if I can't curate a perfect schedule that leaves enough margin. With four kids, I think I will forever end every day know how much I still need Jesus!
Finding peace in the chaos of our lives requires thoughtful patterns and practices that help ground us on the craziest of days. Here are a few practices that help cultivate a peaceful heart, even in the midst of this hectic life:
1. Implement the Daily Practice of Gratitude
Ordinary life where our most extraordinary God shows up. When we feel things are spiraling, it just takes a few moments of reflection to see that God is still working amid the details that make up our days. Maybe he is there in that perfectly brewed cup of coffee that your body desperately needs to stay energized through this crazy day. He could be in the sweet hugs and kisses your kids dole out before heading to school. It could be an encouraging conversation you have with a coworker during a demanding workday.
In my experience, God's grace is always present, but we have to participate in order to have the ability to identify it.
Humans can easily explain away the divine we encounter in our lives. Was it God's provision or a lucky break? Was it providential protection or our smarts that kept us safe?
If we want peace during our most crazy days, we must practice identifying God's grace, beauty, provision, and love daily. That way, when we need his mercy, a little extra, we have already trained our eyes to look for it. The practice of writing, photographing, painting, sharing, or praying about things we are thankful for on a daily basis is such a powerful practice. It's training the eyes of our hearts to see the Lord at work in the mundane details of our lives every day.
2. Pause to Pray
I am not a big fan of the idea that the holiest way to engage with our God is through "quiet time." Not to say there isn't value to silence, prayers, and intentional reflection, but I think we can experience God in profound ways even with our less-than-perfect hit-and-run prayers. At least, I sure hope so because most of my prayers over the last decade of motherhood have been just that!
When we face chaos or start to feel like our day is becoming more than we feel equipped to handle on our own, that is the exact moment we need to pause and pray! It can be as simple as 'Jesus Help!' and if you yell this out in front of your spiraling kids, you are likely also to get their attention. They may actually get it together for you, as they might start to worry if Mom has finally cracked!
All joking aside, it's so easy to forget that we have access to God's helping Holy Spirit all the time. Pausing to pray is the best way to open our hearts and minds to what God has for our day, rather than just feeling overwhelmed with the idea that we alone need to navigate the endless list that lies ahead of us.
3. Calm the Fight-or-Flight Response
When we feel overwhelmed, our bodies kick into fight-or-flight mode. That's when it gets much harder to calm our emotions, respond with patience, and feel a sense of peace in our situation. Being mindful of our bodies is essential if we want to experience a peaceful life.
One way to calm our bodies is through deep breathing. Take slow, deep abdominal breaths to combat your sympathetic nervous system's automatic triggers. Exercise can be an effective way to work out some of that anxious energy. Even walking around the block or the house can help bring your body down from a high-stress response.
Pay attention to triggers in your life that can make you more anxious on hectic days. I had to give up my beloved cups of morning coffee because they contributed to my anxiety. Also, when and how I ate significantly impacted my capacity to handle my duties as a parent. Everyone's triggers are different, but taking the time to note how you are feeling and lean into the things that promote a healthier mind and body is important.
Self-care is a key part of being able to experience God's peace in our lives.
Here is one key thing to remember when you feel the day is getting on top of you: God is for you! (Romans 8:31) Sometimes, when we feel circumstances pile up in our lives, we can begin to feel alone, that God has forgotten us, or that we are stuck to figure out this mess on our own! This is not what the Bible teaches. God invites us to 'cast all our care unto him' (1 Peter 5:7). He tells us that he has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control (1 Timothy 1:7). And he says he will provide all that we need (Philippians 4:19).
God's Word is our rock when everything else feels uncertain. Remember his promises when your mind wants to count the reasons to worry! Peace is found in the presence of our great God.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.