I have a column due for January 6. I decided to upgrade a previous post for the column topic, especially since I have even more "perspective" now after the horrendous Christmas I had this year.
I usually keep my Christmas decorations up until after January 1, but this year, I ripped them down December 26th. What's so ironic is that from Thanksgiving on, I could feel that old, deep, warm Christmas feeling rising like I hadn't in years, like in the times before I battled depression. Actually, I almost felt giddy.
I never saw what was coming. And I never want a repeat of this year again, although wishing doesn't make it so. So if it does happen again, I hope I can remember that I am connected to the source of all peace, and that some trials only paralyze you if you give in to them. Well, here it is.
Here's the newspaper copy from January 6:
Peace and pain aren't mutually exclusive with God's help
By LINDA CROW
Unless we smell smoke or hear glass break, we usually don't pay much attention to our kids' bickering. Recently, though, we noticed our daughter Kristin reacting peculiarly toward her older brother Jordan, who was taunting her with normal sibling stuff like, "I got the last Pop Tart," or "The dog loves me more than you."
While he rambled, we watched Kristin raise her thumb and forefinger about an inch apart, frame Jordan's head between them, squint one eye, then calmly and with vengeful pleasure compress his head like snuffing out a flame. She then turned smugly and left him standing there with a half-finished wisecrack. Big brothers live for this stuff, but we all cracked up.
Anyway, noting how effective the technique was for Kristin, the rest of us started squashing our own daily irritants. I personally work this magic on rude drivers who approach our intersection, clearly see me backing out of my drive but plow on through the stop just to make sure they don't have to wait a millisecond for me to straighten my wheels.
I suppose the reason it feels so good is that it keeps annoyances in perspective. Once you miniaturize a problem, it becomes laughable and loses its power to frustrate.
Of course, "the pinch" doesn't work on every problem. One night two weeks ago, I wanted to squash Christmas and New Year's Eve, due to a death in the family and other trials that crashed in on us like very unwelcome holiday guests. But I couldn't run, hide or snuff out my pain; I had to live through it.
Lying awake, I felt the relevance of my faith once again: I couldn't escape suffering, but I could still have peace. It seems a contradiction, but pain and peace are not mutually exclusive. My life history has had an undercurrent of peace like a quiet babbling brook, a gentle but constant force because of Christ.
I remembered the scripture, "Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel . . . keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don't ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise. You know the teachings I gave you, and you know what you heard me say and saw me do. So follow my example. And God, who gives peace, will be with you (Philippians 4:7-9).
Resolved for 2007: Don't sweat the small stuff; pinch it! With my mother-in-law's passing, I'm reminded that the summer of life inevitably slips into winter, when the grand picnic will be remembered either as the battle against the flies or the feast of sweet strawberries, depending on your perspective and your connection to the source of peace.
This year, I'm going to focus on letting the Prince of Peace conduct the way I think and feel. May he reign on the world's stage, in our relationships and in our hearts in 2007.
Linda Crow, Muncie, is the mother of three teenagers and works in youth ministry. Visit her blog at www.2nd-cup-of-coffee.blogspot.com.