by @SaundraDalton Smith in Leading Hearts magazine
THE MORE DOORS GOD OPENS IN MY LIFE for ministry and leadership, the greater my understanding of Paul’s comment in 1 Corinthians 16:9:
“For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (KJV).
As leaders, our peace is constantly under attack. Busy schedules and family obligations daily vie for our attention. Rest becomes an afterthought, and our time with God is sacrificed for doing more work for God. It takes courage to set healthy personal boundaries. It takes strength to have a plan for ongoing self-care.
For years I have fought to find work-life balance. Little did I know, I was fighting a losing battle. To balance work and life would mean I would have to place my career on one side of the scale and my family on the opposite side.
The only way for there to be balance would be for me to divide myself between the two, half-heartedly giving of myself in my work and in my relationships. This is not God’s best. This is how families get torn apart. This is how gifted people get burned out. This is not life more abundantly.
Work and life cannot be balanced, but rather they should exist in harmony with each other, integrated in a way that allows each to mature and blossom to its fullest potential. They should create a beautiful melody in your life. They should echo God’s grace and stand as a testimony of God’s mercy. Work and life cannot be balanced, but they can be at peace with one another.
Our work for God is more satisfying and joyful when done in a state of inner peace. Resist the temptation to be a victim to your momentary reactions to everyday ups and downs. Pull away during those times you feel overwhelmed and incorporate a few of these simple life hacks. They will enable you to return to a place of peace.
1. Practice Peace in Motion —
Walking is a great way to get rid of the tension you build up each day. As little as 30 minutes of moderately paced aerobic exercise will improve blood flow all over your body and give you an emotional boost from the endorphins released. You will instantly feel a sense of peacefulness as your body cools down from the exertion and as your muscles release.
2. Blend Up a Peaceful Concoction —
Does going to the beach or the pool make you want a frozen beverage like a virgin daiquiri or piña colada? The psychological connections between water and peace are wonderful. You can enjoy the relaxing feeling of sipping on a frozen blended drink on any stressful day. I suggest the following healthy versions below, full of ingredients which have been shown to increase a peaceful mood.
3. Focus on the Peacemaker —
Whatever you focus on in life becomes the gateway through which your perspective originates. If you focus on your battles, you will become discouraged and filled with hopelessness. But if you choose to focus instead on the One who fights for you, you will find yourself feeling strengthened and empowered.
4. Make Peace with Yourself —
While you may fear criticisms from others, your harshest critic may be the one staring back at you in the mirror. Nothing disrupts inner peace like internal negative self-talk, so pay attention to your thought patterns, and notice when your inner critic rears up. Be quick to practice self-compassion and allow yourself the same grace you extend to others.
5. Pray Peace-filled Scriptures —
Prayer can be difficult when God seems far away and you cannot feel His presence. When you don’t know what to pray, pray God’s Word. Praying the Scriptures is a powerful way to transform your prayer life. Below is a sample prayer using four peace-filled Scripture references.
A Prayer for Peace:
Father, I thank You for Your peace You’ve given me. Do not let my heart be troubled; neither let it be afraid. In this world, I will have problems, but I will never be without hope because You have overcome the world. You will keep me in perfect peace while my mind stays on You because I trust in You. So, I will be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let my requests be made known to You. I gratefully receive Your peace which surpasses all understanding and know it will guard my heart and mind through Christ Jesus. Amen. (See John 14:27, Isaiah 26:3, John 16:33, Philippians 4:6-7.) LH
Peace Colada Smoothie (serves 1)
1 1/4 cups fresh pineapple chunks 1/4 cup light coconut milk 1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut 1/2 tablespoon honey 1/2 cup ice cubes Blend until smooth and enjoy.
Berry Peaceful Chiller (serves 2)
2 1/4 cups frozen berries 1/2 cup water 1 tablespoon honey 1 large lemon or lime, squeezed 1 fresh banana Blend until smooth and share.