When you’ve dealt with abusive people, lived with them and have had to unlearn years and millions of layers of abuse, with it comes the uncontrollable desire to appease people, to bend over in an effort to placate in exchange of acceptance, to keep men and aliens alike happy at all times.
Now, this was always the case with me. Throughout my teenage years and into my early twenties, I hadn’t the guts to say no to people, or decline offering help because I was so scared of rejection. I needed to be approved of, to be loved and accepted, to at all times make people happy, or sustain whatever made them happy even it meant being a doormat for as long as they’d have me be. So I’d meet a friend, he or she would ride on the wave, literally drain the life from me till I fell apart and they moved on and lived happily ever after. And like a sheep at the slaughter, I’d keep my cool thinking I was peace loving.
Yet, in reality I wasn’t peace loving. I had storms brewing on the inside.
While I was hell bent on keeping the appearance of the proverbial jolly good fellow, dear ol’ Andrea was a rotting, bitter soul on the inside. I had bottled up bitterness and suppressed my love needs. I even thought I was doing the Christian thing. To live at peace with all men, right?
Religion had interpreted this scripture to mean, putting up with abuse, having no self-worth, not holding people accountable, not demanding that you be respected and treated fairly by others. Just generally being the quintessential door mat all year round.
I got it messed up really. I did the religious thing: enabled abuse and abused when I had the opportunity. This vicious cycle continued till I couldn’t stomach the toxins the lifestyle brought, so I started having these long talks with God. (BTW, God loves gist! And His sense of humor? You have no idea!) I started asking and praying that I’ll truly know Peace – that life-anchoring ability of His that sustains through storms and the highs and lows life often came visiting with.
I needed a revelation of Peace that was often spoken about in churches but was never fully grasped. For me it was a life-sustaining mission. I needed an anchor through the turbulence, and a light to illuminate my path through the never ending darkness that had become one with me.
Sometime in September of 2017, during a personal bible study, I stumbled on Philippians and I had an Aha! moment that altered my life’s course for the better. The more I mediated – literally muttered the words, rolled them over in my head and heart till they took roots and bloomed like wild roses- – the more I was blown off my hinges.
For like a week, God kept on navigating me through experiences that corroborated all that He had revealed to me. For the first time, I was experiencing Peace in its purest form, it wasn’t in the calmest of moments neither was it negated by riotous experiences, it stood firm like a bodyguard, unwavering in its devotion and service to me.
The more I fell in love with this notion of Peace, the clearer I saw all that God intended for man. I’d remember scriptures like where God promised never to leave me nor forsake me, to be my present help in time of trouble, to lead me beside still waters and I realised that, more than anything God, needed me to maintain a healthy head space while on earth and amidst all of man’s indiscretions and complexities. I needed this Peace to be able to lead a decent and fulfilling life in spite of the atrocities that abound in the world.
As I collated my experiences, it was like having a jigsaw puzzle figured out in less than a nano second. From that moment on my life took on hindsight and a lot of stumbling and groping was and has been done away with, not that it did or lacks challenges, but I had found a way out of them, coupled with the knowing that my life wasn’t a spiral wheel that was thrown down a winding road. I had found an anchor and it held tightly to me.
The faith-walk is not a spiritual utopia; it is a day to day relationship between friends, between lovers; Christ and his church. Sadly, most Christians haven’t and will probably never accept the practicality of God’s intent for man. Little wonder the gospel is dubbed news that’s too good to be true.
I found Peace in letting go of all pretenses and notions of being or appearing good before God and men. I came with all my insecurities, my pain and all the dark places I’ve been to that religion with all of her good intentions will dare not be a part of. I came baring all to the all-knowing One. We communed and He soothed, I got angry and He’d let me yarn. He’d hold my hand while I sobbed in frustration, and by the time He was through, I understood his Peace for what it truly is.
This Peace that surpasses all understanding isn’t the faux peace that pretends all is well.
It isn’t the peace that thrives because one is scared of saying no.
It isn’t the peace that’s sustained by another’s tears.
It isn’t one’s ability to lose faith in self while conforming to any and every doctrine.
It isn’t peace that requires manipulation to function.
It doesn’t require pain to manifest its healing ability. It doesn’t.
This peace trust. It hopes,
It endures from a place of freedom and not cowardice.
It embraces life and lives to the highest potential.
This peace doesn’t broker fear, rather it liberates.
This peace is the music that sustains the soul in great turbulence.
This peace is knowing when to walk away from men and situations that breathe death.
This peace is the grace to forgive – self and others.
It is knowing you matter above all else.
This peace is health to our flesh when pestilence arise.
It is solace to our bones when they quake in fear.
This Peace is the One who was, who is, and is to come!