Jesus said in John 14:27:
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.”
Yesterday, I spoke to a retirement community on practicing gratitude to know God’s love. I told them stories of how my first marriage was destroyed by drugs and alcohol, my daughter’s bout with OCD and anxiety, and how I walked through my dad dying as my granddaughter was is intrauterine with a serious birth defect. I spoke of how the only way I was able to walk through each of these struggles was not only with gratitude, but with God’s peace. The peace that Jesus gifts us. The group made repeated comment about me smiling and being so pleasant after such difficult walks. I confirmed for them that it is the peace Jesus left and gave to me as a Believer.
I was asked by one of the residents, “What does God’s peace feel like?”. I thought about that for a minute before answering. “God’s peace,” I said, “is like being in a warm therapeutic bath. The water is just the perfect temperature, your muscles are relaxed, your heartbeat is calm, and your mind is serene. You lose sense of what’s happening outside that moment and just feel calm.” To me, that is how God’s peace feels.
The next question I received was, “What can I do for my friend that suffers with anxiety?” Again, I gave myself a moment before speaking. “Does your friend have a relationship with God?” I asked gently. “I don’t know,” he said.” I encouraged him to have her breath deeply when she feel anxious and think of things that make her grateful. When we understand that deep breathing oxygenates the brain and gratitude fills the heart, we become calmer. I also told the group that it is impossible to have a negative and positive thought exist in the brain at the same time. If she can remove the negative anxiety with the positive thoughts of gratitude she would begin to calm herself.
After the group discussion and I was packing up my things, the man brought the woman to me. “This is my friend” he shared with me. I looked up to see a lady with very nervous eyes and restless movements. “Hi,” I smiled at her and said “do you suffer with anxiety?” I of course knew the answer by her movements. She proceeded to tell me she has panic attacks, worries constantly, and never sleeps at night. I could feel her pain in my heart. I knew the struggle well as I was the same many years ago.
I first questioned her about her faith and relationship with God. She said she struggles with faith. She grew up in a Catholic church and never felt she was allowed to be close to God. She said she had to follow the rules of the Catholic church that included praying to saints and confessing to a human man in confessional booth. Please know I am relating what she said and not condemning the Catholic church.
I took a deep breath and chose my words carefully as this can be interpreted by some as incorrect doctrine in many churches. “My friend,” I softly spoke to her, “God wants you to talk directly to Him. He is your Heavenly Father and He wants peace in your life. God doesn’t give fear and anxiety, He comforts these emotions. I know it’s hard for you to hear, but please know you are His and He is yours. You have full access to Him any time you need Him.”
I reached into my bag and pulled out a HOPE prayer stone and handed it to her. “This is a prayer stone. You will see your thumb fits into the curve of the heart. You can hold this prayer stone and pray or just find comfort by rubbing it between your thumb and forefinger. Ask God to ease your worries as you hold it and carry it in your pocket to always have with you when you need it.”
The HOPE hearts are custom made here in Texas by a nonprofit named Coventry Reserve. Adult special needs friends make them out of pottery clay. I share them in our community when I meet someone like this new friend.
Before leaving the community, I prayed over her. I ask God to show her that His presence is with her and gave her permission to call on Him personally in her own words of fear and worry.
Last night as I slept, I woke up about every 45-60 minutes. Each time I was awakened and feeling my peace, I asked God to please let my new friend sleep quietly through the night. I think this happened 6 or 7 times and each time I repeated my request. “Please Father, may (friend’s name) be sleeping and resting without worry. May she wake up in peace and feeling Your love for her just like I do.”
It’s now morning and I don’t know how my new friend slept, but I do know Our loving God and I trust He has this handled.
Thank you for reading my blog post and I pray you are feeling God’s love for you this very day. My love and gratitude-LoLo.
2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.