Centering On Peace Amidst Tension

It’s been extremely difficult for me to follow the news and watch the political climate of our country unfold over the past three months. Yes, there have been so many hardships and so we’re all becoming news weary. It’s all been very emotional. Unfortunately, because my mental health has been poor to begin with, I am unable to handle emotions very well. The emotional energy needed to sort through current events and various opinions and viewpoints have worn me down. I know that I’m not the only one.

I’m continually learning not to depend on my current mood and my emotional reactions to the world around me. As a follower of Christ for the past 25 years, it’s become ingrained in me that Jesus needs to be my center. When I stray from Center is when I lose balance. Once my balance is lost, unless I’m proactive, it takes time to get back again. 

I have seen our nation lose balance. We’re being pulled in so many different directions. The Coronavirus. The current civil rights movement. The presidential election. It’s a lot. We’re being challenged to make really big decisions about what viewpoint is correct at a time when I’m not sure even politicians even know how to deal with all of this. And all at the same time. 

Because I’ve found myself getting too emotional – too weighed down, too sad, too angry, too overwhelmed, too annoyed – over the tension in the air, I’ve been trying my best to not contribute to it. I have my opinions and viewpoints, for sure, but that’s not what this post is about. I want to share how I’ve been trying to focus my conversation on positive messages that will hopefully bring others back to Center along with me. 

Here are some questions I’ve been asking myself along with messages that have helped me refocus my mind:

Are my words centered on following Christ, or am I creating division by putting someone else ahead of my Savior?

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

1 Corinthians 1

Am I opening the door to dissension or am I helping my brothers and sisters stand up under the stress? 

1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.

6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6

By responding to this person, am I helping the cause or am I making myself a fool?

4 Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
6 Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool
cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.
7 Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless,
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
8 Like one who binds the stone in the sling
is one who gives honor to a fool.
9 Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
10 Like an archer who wounds everyone
is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.
11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.
12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 26

Am I promoting peace?

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;  
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.  
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  
Amen

The Prayer of St. Francis

Let the words of my mouth
Be pleasing to You, pleasing to You
The meditation of my heart
Be pleasing to you, pleasing to You
Oh Lord, my strength
And my Redeemer
Whatever is true
Whatever is pure
Whatever is lovely
Whatever is worthy
Think on these things
Think on these things
Let the words of my mouth
Be pleasing to You
Pleasing to You

Fernando Ortega

When I engage in discussion with others, am I representing Christ?

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3

Am I always successful in staying the course? No. Like I said, my mental health has been poor and sometimes I “step in it,” as my husband likes to call it. However, my efforts have helped me to remain more balanced and err on course more often than not in the past couple of weeks. Keeping my eyes on scriptures and prayers that remind me how to act in times of disagreement, conflict, and tension, have prevented me from doing and saying things I will later regret.

What helps you to remain grounded in times of stress and overwhelming emotion?

What are your thoughts?

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