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The Opposite of Peace

The opposite of peace is fear.

My word for this year is peace. I've been working on trying to make my life more peaceful. I am using a journal based on the liturgical year for my Bible readings every day. My prayer time and meditation is critical for the mood of my day.

I've discovered recently that the opposite of peace, the thing that will undo all of my efforts, is fear. When I let myself give in to fear, I am no longer peaceful.

How did I reach this epiphany! Get ready for a ride!

About 6 weeks ago, I visited my Mom because her back and leg were giving her fits. She had a discectomy with wire cages placed at L5-S1. (If you don's understand, that's OK. She had surgery.) The surgery appeared to be successful for a few months, but then things got worse. So, I went down to be with Mom while my brother and his family went on vacation because Mom was pretty much stuck in a wheelchair and not able to do much driving. So, I spent a week, did the driving, cooking, and anything that required physical labor of Mom. And I worried, which is a form of fear. Mom was in severe pain and I was unable to help her. Even after evaluating the surgical risks and feeling like it was the right choice, I was still afraid that it might not relieve her pain. A lot of my fear and anxiety during that time was Mom's physical pain. I've learned to separate from my patient's pain, but not from my Mom's pain.

During my time home I was diligent with journaling and praying. It was a good couple of weeks. I got a lot of productive stuff done but my heart felt peaceful.

Three weeks ago, I went back down. I got there on Sunday. We had to go into Downtown Atlanta to the hospital on Monday for a blood draw. And then back again on Tuesday for the first surgery. Driving in Downtown Atlanta is a definite source of fear and I can't just stop in the middle of the road for a meditation session. But, I prayed a heck of a lot in that car!

Mom had two surgeries - on Tuesday and on Thursday. It's really too complicated to explain. I wasn't really afraid about her being in surgery. Surgical mortality for elective surgery like hers is low. There is some risk of post-operative complications, but we had talked through all of that. I was afraid because I had no control over anything. All I could do was sit and wait. Although I did some Christmas shopping in the gift shop during the first surgery!

I was also anxious about my Dad. Dad has some mild dementia and was anxious about Mom and asking lots and lots of questions about her. He also did something to his knee so I took him to the orthopedist the day after Mom's second surgery and a steroid shot pretty much straightened things out for him. But, that week before the shot was a little nerve-wracking. I was sure that the ortho was going to recommend an injection, but I wasn't sure till it happened

In all of these situations, there were things about people I loved that I couldn't control, so I wasn't peaceful. There were plenty of times that I was busy running errands or shopping in which I felt very comfortable and peaceful (unless I wan in downtown Atlanta traffic!). It's not the activity level that determines my peace level.

My dad watches the news or listens to the news all the time. And it's almost always FoxNews or OneAmericanNews. I did catch him watching MSNBC, once. As I watched these channels, I realized that they are trying to make us fearful. The stories about North Korea are all about how WWIII is imminent with very little talk about the diplomacy that is going on (that I read about in the Washington Post". Everything is bad and we are all going to die now. Now wonder we all have anxiety!

Even CNN with it's attempt to stay more centrist likes to bring 2 or 4 people with different views on things and let them hash it out on live TV. Sadly, this isn't reasoned argument, but people trying to get their talking points said loudest. Again, it's hard to hear anything but Everything is bad and we're all going to die now!

But, I say NO! I'm not going to let fear rule my life or take my peace. I like action plans. So, here's mine:

* Meditate and pray (I've gotten out of the habit and have been sporadic.)

* 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (Memorize this)

*Don't watch many cable news shows. Use social media wisely.

*Call and check on Mom regularly. It's OK to be concerned about her health. Just don't let that bubble into unrealistic fear.

What do you think? How do you develop peace? Are there other scriptures you would recommend (I can think of about 20)!

Catherine