You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
– Isaiah 26:3, NKJV
This weekend at church, a fellow Wesley Alum and I found out that we attend the same church. After catching up on the latest in our post-seminary lives, she said something like, “Patrice, when I met you at Wesley, you were so angry. Now, you look so peaceful. What happened?”
I hadn’t really thought about it. I knew that I felt different, but I had not analyzed why. So, for the rest of the weekend, I wanted to understand what had changed me to the point where people noticed.
First, I realized that I was no longer trying to be perfect. For as far back as I can remember, I’ve always tried to be perfect and do everything perfectly. But, for the past three years of my life, nothing has gone perfectly. And, in the last six months of my life, everything has definitely been the opposite of perfect. Yet, I am in peace.
I am still unemployed, but my bills are paid. I am still waiting on God regarding ministry, but I am living on purpose. I am still unmarried, but I am no longer concerned about it. I am still not the perfect daughter, but I am still loved. I am still not a published author, but I am still able to share my writing talents. Things couldn’t be more imperfect. Yet, I am at peace because God has been keeping me.
Second, I have changed my focus. Besides a few things here and there, nothing much has changed in my circumstances, but I have changed the way I look at things. More importantly, I have stopped looking at other people and have started looking at myself.
I no longer blame the company that won’t hire me. I no longer blame the denomination or the church that won’t ordain me. I no longer feel rejected when men play games. I no longer feel blamed when women betray sisterhood trust. I no longer get caught up when I hear false facts floating about my name. Simply put, I just don’t care about what I can’t change. I have changed my focus to what I can change – me.
Finally, I realized that my prayer walks are purchasing my peace. Back in July, I got really sick, to the point where I couldn’t walk or breathe. I went to the doctor and she found that I had all this fluid built up in my body – edema. She tested me for the major stuff, but found nothing. When I went home in August, my aunt encouraged me to start walking with her. While I was not able to walk the 8 miles she and her friend did on that first day, I was able to walk 4.5. When I got back to my Mom’s house, I felt like a million bucks. I have been walking ever since. Now, I am able to walk 6 miles each time. During those walks, I listen to worship music, podcasts, or I just talk to God. But, for the most part, I listen to God. In the midst of my walking, my breathing pattern has changed and my head is clearer than it has ever been.
I am still overweight but I am no longer burdened with constant negative thinking. And, when I do get a negative thought, because I am thinking better, I am able to see the enemy’s hand in the mess and stop it immediately instead of marinating on it. What I realized is that because I am an introvert, I need more time to think and process life before I respond. These walks have taught me to be patient with the thinker in me, who often has wisdom and creativity to share.
Finally, all of these things have kept my mind focused on God, the only one who is perfect. God is the only one who can change people. God is the only one who can renew my mind. God is the only one who can keep me and you in perfect peace. As Isaiah reminds us, there is a benefit to focusing on God.
Are you looking for the perfect pathway to peace? Consider giving Jesus a try. The more you focus on Him, the more peace you will have in your life.