Peace Is Your Beginning, Not Your Destination

Peace of the soul is often looked on as a destination in life’s journey, something that we aspire to and may someday reach if we are wise enough or spiritual enough. After a recent vacation in Rome, I now see peace not as a destination, but as a beginning, as the best place to start each journey of my life.

I had arrived in Rome in a travel group of fifty high school seniors and parents, the last stop in a whirlwind tour of Europe. I was exhausted, still battling a raging stomach virus and losing. I had already lost my day in beautiful Florence to the bug, lying half conscious in a darkened hotel room.

And now my mind was in turmoil. Do I try to push myself out the door and hope that I can keep up with the group’s frantic pace to take in Rome in a day, or do I resign myself to missing my only chance to see the Eternal City?

Although you may never have been sick in Rome, I’m sure you’ve been exactly where I was at some juncture point in your life. When was the last time you felt turmoil in your soul? Was it a financial decision, a work situation, or a relationship quandary? Did you have multiple alternatives competing for your attention, or did you like me seem to have no option that avoided disaster?

So often our temptation when faced with any decision dilemma is to hurriedly choose one path and plunge forward, to avoid that uncomfortable no-man’s land of uncertainty. We choose a path before we’re at peace with it, and then hope that the calm that our soul is craving will show up along the way.

Let me suggest a better way: be willing to stay with the question, with the indecision, until peace comes, because what true peace brings is worth the wait. Let’s be clear: I don’t mean giving in to fear to avoid making a decision, like the gutless man who waits a decade or two to make sure the woman he loves is the one he wants to marry. And I don’t mean giving in to doubt or laziness to avoid all risk or any work.

But when we have the bravery and wisdom to patiently stay with the question until the mists clear, we reap multiple benefits. That morning in Rome, I was able to stay with the question until my mind settled down, and I came to a complete peace about staying behind and resting. A simple decision, yes, but an important one, and letting my soul come to rest and being okay with staying back poignantly illustrated just how valuable peace is to be the beginning of any journey.

First, I saw how peace brings a life nourishing emotion instead of a life draining one. Like it or not, every emotion we experience either nourishes us or drains us. Peace is a supremely nourishing state of the soul, and I immediately felt like a weight fell off my shoulders when I moved into a peace about my decision. Whether I had stayed or went, I could have ruined my day with resentment, doubt, despair, or anger if I had not first let my soul come to rest. Such negative emotions can grow and spread, infecting your entire outlook on life. The remedy? Not allowing them to start by being completely at peace with whatever path you take.

I also realized how peace releases you from following destructive paths. In my case, had I felt compelled to go out, it would have been disastrous. Looking back, I am sure I would not have been able to keep up, and would have been forced to take a cab back to the hotel or worse. But coming to a peace, being okay with acknowledging I was just too sick, released me from my own expectations. How many times do we see people going down wrong paths for them because they feel pressured by society or family or their own limited conceptions of what is best? Peace releases you from that prison.

Likewise, peace gives you the freedom & space to choose wisely. Have you ever had the misfortune of being in a high pressure sales pitch like to buy a timeshare? Whenever a salesman says you have to make a decision right then, he is counting on the fact that people tend to choose foolishly when they don’t have the time to find peace. But when your soul is at rest, you experience freedom that you can achieve no other way.

Along with freedom, peace gives you new vision & clarity. With negative emotions and pressures out of the way, our mind is relaxed and able to fully consider new alternatives and options. After resting the whole morning in the hotel, I had new options open to me, and I chose to venture out at my own reduced pace. This proved to be an excellent decision, letting me see part of Rome without tiring me out. No matter the situation or decision, having peace before you take that first step will vastly improve your decision making ability at every step.

Finally, having peace will allow you to fully enjoy each moment. Having peace meant that I was able to actually enjoy resting in the hotel, being grateful for a comfortable bed and a quiet room and the opportunity to let my body heal. Having peace allowed me to enjoy navigating around a foreign city by myself for the first time in my life, and enjoying the simple beauty of a fountain, of a meal, of walking down a lovely street.

Don’t consider peace merely as a desirable option in your life’s journey, something to pick up somewhere along the way. The benefits of peace are worth your time and effort, worth your patience, worth your commitment to seek it until you find it. The journey that begins in peace will end in joy. May you find peace and joy in all your journeys.

2 comments to Peace Is Your Beginning, Not Your Destination

  • You made your point very well. I especially resonated with the issue of pressure, which steals the unnatural, God-given “peace that surpasses all understanding.” Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your experience about this.

  • Ronnie Gunnoe

    Thanks for that very insightful article. I pray that God will continue to use you as a tool of discernment.

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