When Peace is Scarce
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives, so do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid."
As far back as childhood, my most fear-filled moments have always come in the dead of night. I remember watching The Wizard of Oz as a child of perhaps 7, and that night becoming Dorothy, swirling in a dream vortex of monkeys, a wicked witch, and my home uprooted and falling apart at the seams. I made a bed on my parents’ bedroom floor, and didn’t sleep alone for at least the next 12 months. This was when I started memorizing scripture. Proverbs 3:5-6 was my midnight mantra when I was awake with no company. I believe that in those moments of earnest silence, I began to know God.
Now a pseudo-adult of 26, my nighttime wakefulness is of a different variety. I’m an early riser and a problem solver. Often I lie awake before the sun comes up, all of my realities crashing down on me: problems at work, lack of work, frayed relationships, health concerns, money, the typical assortment of existential questions. As a college Senior, I favored the existential questions, since my relationship with God was on the fritz. I had just gone through a breakup, was still reeling from a study abroad that challenged my worldview, and at the same time was preparing to launch into the working world after graduation. In the midst of all that, I wasn’t sure who God was anymore; He had lost dimension. One fall morning, I woke up and tried to pray, but stopped short because I couldn’t with any intellectual self-respect pray to a God that I wasn’t sure existed.
I remember that moment as one of bone-deep loneliness, that season of life as a dark room. All of my life, when nothing else was working or when people were not accessible, I always had God as a companion, and His presence brought me peace. Now, without any clearly delineated faith to speak of, I had to find peace elsewhere, which was hard to come by. I leaned on people for the most part, and will admit that this period taught me the value of vulnerability in relationships and brought me lifelong friends. But still, I was lonely.
I now understand those years as faith deconstruction. Eventually, I started to talk to God again. Eventually, I learned that a worldview that no longer fits in its box was never meant to be confined in the first place, and so I took the box apart and laid it flat. I rediscovered peace only when I truly let go of all my existing assumptions about who God was, and started to explore the depths.
Have you been through a time when peace was scarce? How did you move through it?
Erin Springer is 26, but a bit of an old soul. She loves classic film, morning coffee, Mary Oliver poetry, and her cats Ollie and Mr. Mona. Erin apologizes for the heavy use of metaphor; as a former English major, she really can’t help it.