The search for peace can be a hard road… but a hard road in which one will be grateful for, even and especially for the difficulties that arise along the way, if one continues searching with an open mind and an open heart.
I was searching for peace in a troubling situation recently, and there was a good bit of time that I questioned the entire process. I didn’t understand why the peace was not already there, as I was questioning the “why” of a really heart-breaking occurrence. I couldn’t understand why this was even happening, and when I considered the idea that there would be an ultimately good reasoning behind i,t I then questioned why that reasoning couldn’t be obvious from the beginning… why did I have to go through all of this pain in order to figure it out? It was the first time in a really long time that I truly felt hope wasn’t even possible, and because of that I was hurting and confused…
But what was important was that I wasn’t giving up in my search for peace.
Truthfully, I was in so much pain that I felt like I couldn’t give up, because I simply couldn’t accept the idea that I had to live with this pain inside me forever. I love God and I know God, so one thing I was able to know and believe with confidence was that pain is not what God wants or intends, so I knew that while He’s allowing me to experience right now for a reason I can’t comprehend at the moment, there ultimately had to be something there that He’d allow me to find in order to authentically address and move forward from this particular situation. I didn’t understand how that would happen or when, but I held onto the hope that it would and simply continued to move forward in my day and in my coping process however I felt lead in my heart to move forward, baby step by baby step.
As my day went on, I was lead to finding one brick of my foundation of peace, and then another. I journaled here and there as revelations came to my mind, and I listened to music that spoke to me. Other times I sat in silence overlooking the horizon and contemplated life quietly. And throughout it all, I was ultimately lead to unexpected circumstances that I couldn’t have anticipated if I’d tried, which spoke to me in ways I could have never imagined prior to experiencing them. And slowly, but surely, my heart began to mend.
I wanted to share that story.
I was at the park really sitting still in silence, just trying to rest from the turmoil I’d been experiencing all day prior and doing my best to be open to peace coming into my heart. Up until this point, I’d begun to feet calmer, but I didn’t feel peace. I was just about to pack my things and leave, accepting what was/wasn’t for the moment and agreeing to turn in for the night and possibly try again tomorrow, when I saw a set of dolphins swimming joyfully in the bay. I ran across the seawall to try to catch up with them and caught the tail end (punny) of their playtime just as I reached the edge where they were. I was grateful for the unexpected distraction and opportunity for me to simply enjoy some of God’s beautiful artwork, even in the midst of an emotional storm.
I turned away and began walking back to the spot I’d claimed for the evening, and that’s when I saw feet sticking out of some bushes. My initial reaction was to assume this was a homeless person sleeping and to keep walking, as this is unfortunately not something unusual to be seen around town and I know they typically do not appreciate being disturbed, even by a well-intentioned citizen wanting to simply check up on them. But then I had to consider the idea that maybe this was a person who needed help, and that I should check on them. I carefully tiptoed closer in order to get a better look, and when I did, I saw that this person seemed to be curled comfortably within these bushes, with a bag beneath their head as a pillow. It appeared clear to me that this person had turned in for the evening for a rest within nature on a beautiful night, and I certainly didn’t want to disturb him. He honestly looked peaceful. So I continued my walk back.
As I walked, I contemplated what I’d just seen… I felt sorry for the man who saw sleeping outside as their best option for the night. But then I felt happy for him that he did have such a beautiful option for rest. I mean, here he is, resting on a beautiful evening within a beautiful, very peaceful, and fairly secluded park on the water, residing in the paradise location that is St. Petersburg, Florida. I was happy for him to have that blessing of an alternative to the standard four walls and a roof.
But as I continued walking, I thought about how badly I wished I had something to give this person. I’d bought myself veggie sushi along the way out to this park on my bike, but I’d already eaten it, as well as drank the water I’d brought. I had no cash, no food, and no water to give. I felt as though I had nothing to offer, and that pained me because here I was seeing someone in need right in front of me, and I didn’t feel equipped to do anything to help. I felt terrible about it, and I began to question why… “Why, God, did you allow me to eat that sushi? Why didn’t you suppress my appetite? Why didn’t you show me this man earlier before I’d eaten it? Why didn’t you inspire me to buy extra food like you’ve done before? Why would this happen this way, it doesn’t make any sense to me?”
I wasn’t angry with God, but I most certainly was confused and a bit frustrated about it. But, as I continued walking, my mind brought me to realizing, after racking my brain, that I did have something to give- I had a pen and some paper from my journal. If anything, I could write this man something loving and kind that might start his tomorrow off with a blessing, and hopefully bring him toward more gratitude, happiness, and joy in his day after he wakes to it. I figured if I couldn’t feed his stomach, I’d do what I could to feed his heart and soul by bringing him some positivity and encouragement, at the very least. Maybe he’d resent the unwarranted positivity it and throw it away, or maybe he’d love and appreciate it as it makes his day more beautiful… there’s really no way for me to know the outcome, but I knew I felt called by my good, true heart to try. And so I did.
As I got back to my bag, I realized that within my journal, I actually had a blank card. I’d put it in there for the purposes of writing a thank you to a friend a few days prior, but I’d chosen to use a different card that day and the other was left in my bag untouched as a result. I decided this card was here at this time for a purpose, and that purpose was to be fulfilled here and now.
As I began to write, I realized I had no idea what I should or wanted to write… but I trusted my intentions and ability to bring love onto this paper and I simply let it flow. Before I knew it, I was writing front and back on this card a flow of words that I felt were being derived straight from the depths of my innermost heart’s, through the ink in that pen and onto the paper. I prayed the person reading these words would truly be able to feel the love that was flowing within them, and I felt good about it. It felt right.
As I placed the card in the envelope, I thought about how I had nothing to place within the envelope or next to it- no money, no food, no water… just love. Although I felt good about the words I’d written, knowing that at times, kind and uplifting words can mean more to us than food and water, I still felt the need or desire to let this man know that I wished I had more to give, and would have if I did. So I wrote within the envelope flap the words, “I didn’t have anything to give you but my love… I hope today that is enough,” signed with a heart. I prayed he would feel and absorb the intentions behind this card and the words inside and that it would impact his heart and his day, even his life, in a way that brings him to more peace… and as I prayed that prayer, walking away from the spot in which I left the card by sleeping beauty, I came to a realization of my own.
Had I had what might have been the obvious solution at the time- food and/or water and/or money- I likely would have never continued searching for more. I likely would have left one or all of those things, possibly including a brief, but much less thought out, letter along with it of encouragement and positivity. And not to discount that type of a gesture- it’s beautiful, kind, and would have been wonderful in itself- but I was lead to something more on this day that I think could provide something much more meaningful for this person than food may have been. Had I had the obvious solutions at the time I wanted them, I would not have been motivated or inspired to reach deeper down within myself for that something more…
And at that moment, I was grateful for God’s timing.
I was grateful to have not had all of the answers at the time I wanted them. I felt that the journey which brought me to the place of writing and leaving this letter was maybe a bit more difficult and more drawn out to travel, but it was so much better than I could have anticipated or understood on my own in the time I wanted to know it all. And it hit me, that that’s how He works. That’s how God works in us at all times.
We are human. And since we’re human, we couldn’t possibly understand His ways, His timing, or His reasons… and that’s how it’s meant to be. Because if we did, we would do it wrong. But when we allow Him to work without interference of our own, His ways are higher than ours and bring much more beautiful results than we could ever imagine prior to experiencing them. We simply have to trust… we have to have faith, and then simply follow His (sometimes subtle) lead.
This experience brought me to realizing that the peace I was searching for wasn’t there at the time I wanted it, because I was meant to travel this journey. Not only was I meant to travel this journey for the man in the park, but I was meant to travel it for my own sake and for the sake of those who are impacted by the lessons I’ve learned, the strength I’ve gained, and the ways in which the Lord brings me to sharing it all. He didn’t cause the pain I was in, but He allowed me to experience it, rather than removing it how and when I prayed He would, because He knew that had He removed it then, I would have never been motivated and inspired to find my way to the true peace, strength, and blessings I found myself in as a result of that difficult road. I understand the difficult situation I was in much better now, and I have more than I could have dreamed as a result of the journey I traveled to finding it, and I’m grateful for it all… for the struggles, for the pain, and for the beauty that exists within every bit of it.
The journey to peace can be a struggle. It can be hard, painful, scary, and confusing, and no one truly enjoys those things when they’re happening. But what we can do is we can hold onto the hope, that one day we will better understand, and one day the peace will come… but we must have faith in the fact that although we cannot anticipate or control how/when/why, God can, and His ways are better than ours. And that everything will ultimately, always, be okay.
He takes care. Always and forever. Because He loves us. And because love exists, I cannot believe anything other than that there is hope and there is good, in any and all things. God is good. ❤