Peace Like a River

Vanessa Riley here.

I want to thank Keep the Faith Magazine for the opportunity to address their faithful readers. I am an American author of Regency Romances featuring the intersection of powerful peoples of color and the high society Ton.  As you can tell I am a big-time lover of British history—the good, the bad, and the diverse. I bring you greetings from the States and herald of a message of peace, peace to you for these uncertainty times.

Anxiety is everywhere.

I can taste it, sticky and tart on my tongue. Whether Brexit on your shores or a government shutdown on mine, there’s a spirit of tension settling upon us. Anxiety is a tool of oppression. It strangles words and thoughts of kindness. It makes everything feel heavy and joyless. It starves us of empathy, making us choose self over the plight of your neighbors. The result is anxiety that isolates us, making us feel alone and tired.

But you’re not alone.

You’ve not been forsaken or forgotten.

The lifter of your head, my head, the one who holds this crazy world in His hand remembers us. He’s available. His comfort is a mere pray away. His arms are open wide. Let him cover you, head to toe, in the balm of His peace.

But you have to reach for peace.

Peace may not be across the room. It could be. Changes of venues and views can do wonders to change perspectives. I know in my own walk, when I focus on the good instead of the lack, on my brother’s care more than your own, I know my grip on my sanity strengthens.

Here’s the roadmap I follow to keeping my peace.

1.    Be Thankful! – Colossian. 3:15

2.    Be Fruitful! – Galatians 5:22

3.    Make an Effort!  – Hebrews 12:14

4.    Turn from Evil!  – 1 Peter 3:11

5.    Avoid Retribution! – 1 Thessalonians 5:15

6.    Sow Peace! –  James 3:18

Thankfulness: Focusing on being thankful diverts my thoughts from all the things that are wrong in my world. There’s an old spiritual that goes—He woke me up this morning and started me on my way. If you can think of nothing else but the fact that you are awake and in your right mind, that’s a solid foundation for your peace. An attitude of gratitude can change one’s perspective.

Fruitfulness: It is often said the devil’s playground is an idle mind. Being busy and productive is one of the best things you can do to shake the doldrums. If I’m not doing anything that is an opportunity to wander and wallow. Keeping busy doing good works gives me peace.

Effort: Everything changes when you say yes. Yes, I will do good things today. Yes, I will live in harmony. Yes, I will pray for more people. Yes, I will not allow anyone to provoke me and steal my peace.

Turn: The more that I am on social media, the more I find unfollowing and blocking accounts a tool of peace. Not seeing hatred or strife on a daily or hourly basis, keeps me from dwelling upon it. I try to avoid water cooler gossip or anything that is going to steal my attention from what is important—friends, family, ways to help others, the good stuff. This does not mean to be to blind to the wrongs of the world. It means paying more attention to what is right.

Avoid: Sometimes, your buttons will be pushed. You want to lash out to protect your honor or preserve your dignity. Many times, the feeling of triumph is short-lived. The magic of every action has an equal and opposite reaction is true. Karma can be a terrible thing but so can injunctive orders, legal fees, and pettiness. I believe those that sow evil will reap tenfold. I don’t have to act out or give my peace away for that momentary high of getting even, only to live in fear of retribution for the chain of events I set or motion or perpetuates. I am working hard to allow God to fight my battles. Rest in the fact that if you do right, He will remember you. He will order your triumph.

Sow: The opposite of returning evil for evil is offering peace. When I give peace or grace to my friends, family, or co-workers, I’m giving them the gift to be less critical to themselves. If I do my part on turning down the notch on the tension dial, I am sowing peace. Giving grace means I will reap grace, and we all need more grace and patience.

Use this roadmap. Protect your time, your heart, your values. Seize and keep your peace. Nothing in this walk is easy, but know you deserve peace.

May God keep you and protect you.

Vanessa

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