“Our whole trouble in our lot in this world rises from the disagreement of our mind therewith. Let the mind be brought to the lot, and the whole tumult is instantly hushed; let it be kept in that disposition, and the man shall stand at ease, in his affliction, like a rock unmoved with waters beating upon it.” ~Thomas Boston
“Seek peace, and pursue it.” ~Psalm 34:14
I have many wants in life, but I am grateful to have discovered what I truly need. Wants are often distractions from my greatest need. What I need is a mind and spirit at peace. I need to be at peace with myself. As I have reflected in previous essays, when I feel the urgency of desires pressing in, or I am uncertain how to prioritize or decide, I find I can streamline the process by pursuing peace.
As Thomas Boston’s words urge us, one way of accessing peace swiftly and surely is to bring our minds in harmony with our current circumstances. I agree with Boston that so much of our trouble in this life “rises from the disagreement of our mind therewith.” We stop to ask ourselves, “Am I happy with this situation? Do these particular circumstances suit me? Am I getting my fair share?” So often we answer these questions with, “No, not at all,” and our peace is immediately destroyed. If instead, we can settle our minds with our circumstances, accepting the moment, our present company, the little daily annoyances and trials of our patience, as all part of a journey towards our growth and betterment, we can transcend so much that ails us.
This of course does not mean that we can never make efforts to improve a situation for ourselves or for others. Sometimes pursuing peace means being honest, speaking up, and doing what the tugs on our conscience indicate that we must. But even in these moments, by taking action and speaking up, we are pursuing peace for ourselves and for others..
When I am fully committed to my pursuit of stillness of mind and spirit, what must be done becomes readily apparent. My conscience tells me what needs to be resolved in order to experience peace. I might have to make an apology, offer a service to someone I know to be in need, or speak truthfully in a difficult context. I might need to spend less, talk less, or size down my expectations, focusing upon gratitude for whatever befalls. I might need to give time or resources to a cause or advocate for a fellow human.
On a particularly trying day, the pursuit of inner calm often simply means the acceptance of a day’s aggravations as part of living, focusing on bringing more love and cheer and joy into the lives around me than negativity, anxiety, or irritation. No matter how vexing a day, I find the day becomes immeasurably improved by taking the focus off of myself, resisting self pity, and refusing to “check in with myself” about how I like the circumstances. It matters little whether I like them or not. I must face what is. I can do that with stress and anger and feeling sorry for myself, or I can accept all that comes to me as lightly as possible and focus upon what I can give that day. What relief it brings when I choose the latter.
What circumstances have been troubling your mind lately? How can pursuing peace of mind and spirit, pursuing peace with yourself, help you see your way through the situation and give relief? How can you bring your mind into agreement with your circumstances or take action in order to resolve your circumstances into a state of restful confidence? Ask for the wisdom to know which approach is required.
The following two prayers are taken from Daily Strength for Daily Needs, compiled by Mary W. Tileston.
“O Lord, who art as the Shadow of a great Rock in a weary land, who beholdest Thy weak creatures weary of labor, weary of pleasure, weary of hope deferred, weary of self; in Thine abundant compassion, and unutterable tenderness, bring us, I pray Thee, unto Thy rest. Amen.” ~Christina Rossetti
“Grant to me above all things that can be desired, to rest in Thee, and in Thee to have my heart at peace. Thou art the true peace of the heart, Thou its only rest; out of Thee all things are hard and restless. In this very peace, that is, in Thee, the One Chiefest Eternal Good, I will sleep and rest. Amen. ~Thomas A Kempis