I am a recovering control freak.
For much of my life, I would be anxious about the future. I would succumb to stress or overthink various matters and circumstances. My heart would be full of questions, and I would wonder or worry about people or events beyond my control. Not only that, but I would try to pretend that I knew exactly what God was doing in my life, and then become stressed if things did not go according to what I thought God was planning.
Despite my desire for control, and in the midst of stress or anxiety, I have often heard about the importance of peace. Messages of peace spill across the pages of Scripture. During the Christmas season, the message of tranquility is exuberantly proclaimed by church leaders and Hallmark cards alike. Countless articles in magazines and on the internet provide ways to “find peace in a busy life.” So, listening to all of these messages, I’ve tried to do this very thing. I’ve tried to cram time in for silence, so that my heart and mind can be at rest. I’ll occasionally let go of activities or commitments to simplify my life. These are good techniques, but during Sunday Mass a week ago, I realized that my perspective should change.
Just before the Gospel, the choir led the congregation in the Alleluia. The words of the verse hit me like a brick:
“Let the peace of Christ control your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Col 3:15A, 16A)
For the duration of Mass, this verse swirled around my thoughts. I’ve sought Christ’s peace in my heart and my life. Over the years, I’ve tried to let go of my desire to be in control, and instead let my life calmly rest in God’s hands. However, I have often let God’s serenity become a matter of convenience. Just as countless articles discuss, I look for ways to fit peace into my lifestyle. It often becomes more of an afterthought, a nice idea that takes second place to my desires.
However, this directive from St. Paul looks at peace in a different light. “Let the peace of Christ control your hearts,” he writes. Not “Let the peace of Christ find a small place in your heart.” Not “Let the peace of Christ reign when it’s convenient for you.” No, instead this exhortation shows us that we need to give God’s peace priority in our hearts and lives.
This summer, how can we let the peace of Christ control our hearts? How can we grow in trust and center our lives on His will, instead of on our own anxieties, busyness, and apprehension? These are questions that we need to ask ourselves. Letting go of our control and worry may seem daunting, but making God’s peace a priority will truly transform our lives and our world.
“The more our soul is peaceful and tranquil, the more God is reflected in it, the more His image expresses itself in us, the more His grace acts through us.” —Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching for and Maintaining Peace