January 20, 2011

Peace Part 1

This past weekend I was part of a panel talk/discussion on peace. While it was aimed at our joint high school youth group (a larger group from the suburb area and a smaller group from an inner city area), it's relevant for all of us.
Peace is something we need MORE OF in our world!

One youth leader spoke on Peace in Decision Making/Anxiety for the Future, another spoke on Peace in Conflict Resolution. I spoke on Peace in Stressful and Difficult Times. Here are my notes from my portion of the talk. In my next couple of posts I'll include some of my responses to questions as well as some resources/verses/quotes I've complied. Join me in seeking more peace in our lives! Please feel free to comment on your thoughts and ideas for having more peace!

Peace in Difficult or Stressful Times 1/16/11
I don’t think it’s possible in 2011, in this world, to be totally stress-free
However, I know it’s possible to have Peace to combat that stress.
The peace we’re talking about is not the world’s peace when everything is “right” but the peace that transcends all understanding- the peace that can only come from God

Why should we have peace? If not for the benefit of our own lives and that of those around us- family, friends, community, it’s for the world! 
Bringing Christ’s peace wherever we go is one of the strongest witnesses that I know.

Stress is all around us- in relationships with family, friends, in challenges- health, finances, in school, in expectations, in the application process, or try-outs/auditions, in the loss of someone/something important to us, even in the fast-pace busyness of our lives

Satan uses stress and resulting anger, anxiety or depression that often comes from it to separate us from God and others and to tempt us to sin. 
Let me rephrase that: experiencing stress (or anger/anxiety/depression) is not a sin; it’s how we respond to it that could be a sin- such as lashing out in anger at a sibling or parent out of stress. 
*(As a side-note, this is very important for young girls/women in general to hear,-especially those struggling with perfectionism/failure/scrupulosity!) 

I had a lot of anxiety in my life when I was in high school. But it wasn’t until the past few years that I have learned to handle and even prevent it. Stress doesn’t just affect you mentally/emotionally; it affects your body physiologically. It triggers fight or flight, your heart rate and breathing, and other processes that allow your body to function. Having stress built up can be really damaging, and painful- trust me on that.

2 ways that I like to handle stress are  through breathing and prayer. Breathing is a tool that you always have with you and it will calm down your system and allow your brain some clarity. One simple pattern is breath in to count of 5 through your nose and breathe out on a count of 5 through your mouth. You want to breathe into your stomach- like its inflating and deflating to get the best effect. Once I’ve calmed down  a little (flight/flight slowing) I immediately turn to God- it can be a longer, formal prayer like The Lord’s Prayer or Serenity Prayer or something as simple as praying “Jesus, I trust in you” or just “Jesus.” That turning to God in faith shows that you are surrendering in the situation, and claiming God as Lord over your life, not Satan's attack/stress.

I then gave a personal testimony sharing how God has clearly shown me that's it's not really as complicated as we make it- no matter what season of our lives we're in. We are to trust our God by loving Him and seeking His will, and to keep breathing. Trust Him, Breathe. Trust Him, Breathe. We freely have access to the gift of Peace that comes from Him. 

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