This is the 11th of our 14-week program, where we provide Lesson #11, The Path to Peace. Some questions to consider as we kick this off:
- Do you have a sense of peace in your life?
- In reflecting on this program to date, what’s stealing your peace?
- Who’s stealing your peace?
When you boil it down, my thesis (sounds so official…ha, ha) is that being overwhelmed doesn’t allow us to experience the peace, joy, or fulfillment that God intended for us. I’ve shared the life lessons that have allowed me to go from there to here….by God’s grace.
My experience indicates that a full life, an impactful life, the life all of us really yearn for, includes all three…peace, joy, and fulfillment. That said, it all starts with peace.
Several years ago, in a moment of unconscious competence (they ring as true today as they did then), I defined the Path to Peace as Surrender, Gratitude, Humility, and Love. Although the sequence isn’t absolute, my experience would indicate that there’s something to it. Let’s explore each individually.
First, we cannot control life, no matter how much we try. Many might think that isn’t true. With a good plan and solid people around you, it’s possible to control things. Sure, when it comes to planned events, we have a certain amount of control, as long as we allow for contingencies, but even then, things don’t always go perfectly. In fact, most of life is beyond our control. Other people and their choices and behavior are beyond our control. Tragic events, disease, accidents — these things are all way outside the scope of our control.
Second, we have God, who loves us more than we can imagine, who wants to see us happy, who designed us for a specific purpose, uniquely and individually, who knows best for us — the God who made us for greatness.
So why not surrender to the God of the universe, who is all-powerful, almighty, and all-loving? Instead of conceiving of something on my own, relying on myself to get it done, and then facing the consequences alone, I can choose to follow God’s will, discerning what He wants for my life and particular situations, and relying on Him for whatever happens. I use my unique and God-given gifts to do my very best, leaving everything up to Him and understanding that everything in life is part of His grand plan. As long as I know his love, it just doesn’t matter what others think. All of this takes the pressure off of me…..a big win!!!
Be thankful. As important, believe that everything happens for a reason, that there are no coincidences in life. It’s true. Everything is part of God’s grand plan. So, live in a place of gratitude; be grateful for everything that happens, even the crises you experience.
God wants only the very best for us. We can trust that absolutely, regardless of life’s obstacles and challenges. Surrender teaches us to let go of the need to have things our way. Gratitude allows us to look past any short-term pain and be grateful for what God wants to do with it for our good.
Gratitude isn’t just good for the soul, it’s good for the body, too. Experts have indicated the benefits to living a life of gratitude, including being happier, healthier, more optimistic, more spiritual, a better friend, a better boss, etc. A true “attitude of gratitude” is one that allows us to see the hand of God in all things and trust that everything will turn out for our best.
Humility is the opposite of ego, which we previously defined as our false self, the identity that we create that is often very far from the truth of who we are. The truly humble person lives from the truth of who he is and can step back from the chaos of trying to prove himself to others.
A humble person has a sense of self-worth, believes in himself, even loves himself, and doesn’t live in fear. Humility has much to do with self-love. This is because humility helps us know exactly who we are, with all of our weaknesses, yes, and even more with all of our strengths given to us by God. Those who have a healthy self-love, who are humble, have no need to look down on anyone, nor do they look up to anyone except Jesus Christ. We were all created by the same God, with the same perfection, in his image and likeness. To God, we are all “10s”.
A humble person is genuinely happy for others in their successes. He is accepting of others’ ideas and thoughts (accepting doesn’t mean always agreeing), always very willing to engage in dialogue and even friendly debate. The humble person doesn’t always have to be right, doesn’t always have to be in control, doesn’t always have to win. Humility allows us to accept others for who they are, rather than judging them or trying to change them.
Humility means accepting and loving others unconditionally. This does not mean we shouldn’t discern right from wrong, but we must never condemn others. Being humble is understanding that it is only in God working through us that we can perform or achieve anything worthwhile. It is his doing, not ours.
BTW, this isn’t easy stuff. On this journey now for a while, my biggest challenge is humility. It’s that old sin of “pride” that keeps creeping up on me. We’re all a work in process.
The final step (and the ultimate goal of this journey) is love. Above all else, we are called to love. Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, second only to loving God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. We need to love. When we fail to love, we leave those around us empty, and we are empty, too. Yet we certainly can’t love others if we can’t accept them, if we’re always competing with them or judging them. We can’t love them if we always have to be right or always have to be on top.
Without relationships, life is meaningless. True relationship is impossible without love. To love, we need to be vulnerable; we need to trust; we need to care. Having gratitude for the people in our lives is vital to loving them. And gratitude brings joy, which is also essential to love.
As I have learned since my conversion, you cannot truly love others unless you first love yourself. It can be a slow journey, but practicing surrender, gratitude, and humility strengthens and confirms us in who we are, which opens us up to loving ourselves and others.
This blog has been longer than most in this series. As such, let’s wait till this Friday’s video, where I’ll share suggested actions you can take to get on and stay on the Path to Peace.
Please join us next Wednesday for Week #12 when we talk about Finding Your Purpose. As always, please feel free to get to me with questions, comments, or concerns at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.
God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!
Week #1 – Being Overwhelmed
Week #2 – Earning the love of others
Week #3 – Lack of self-love
Week #4 – Fear
Week #5 – False gods, False happiness
Week #6 – Life’s Tragedies
Week #7 – Wounds, Resentments
Week #8 – Discovering God’s Love
Week #9 – Forgiveness and healing
Week #10 – Becoming the best Possible You
Week #11 – Path to Peace
Week #12 – Finding your Purpose
Week #13 – You were made for Greatness
Week #14 – True Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment