How to Have Peace...When You Don't Feel Peaceful
Updated: May 14
I found out that my precious perfect baby girl had something wrong with her. It hit me like a ton of bricks, knocking the wind out of me without warning.
Before, I was just worried about the little things. Why couldn't we get just one super cute family photo? How would we find a spot for her to have a beautiful nursery in our tiny apartment? How long could I stay home from work with her?
Then, one morning she got the sniffles. We took her to the pediatrician. I was being overly cautious.
Something doesn't sound right. She's struggling to breathe. The doctor is calling 911. She is not okay.
In an instance, I'm being carried down the stairs in a stretcher with my baby girl on my lap. It feels like I am living someone else's life.
Each day in the hospital becomes lonelier and more terrifying. At first, we think she has RSV. Later, it turns out she probably has meningitis, too. Then, her fever spikes and the cardiologist calls us with her results. She has a heart disease. She will need open heart surgery. She may or may not have brain damage as well.
Each word cut into me. I wasn't worried about trying to hold it together. I wasn't flooded with peace. I was a pile of tears on the floor. I sobbed in front of strangers. I begged God to save her.
That night, a Pastor friend at our church texted me this verse:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
I didn't feel like reciting Scripture or trusting or breathing or doing anything that I knew to be right. But, when you are feeling terrified and broken-hearted, it's worth a shot right?
I took a deep breath. I looked up at the drab ceiling and just started singing.
I lift my eyes up. Up to the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from you. Maker of Heaven. Creator of the Earth.
Then, I sang it again and again and again. This story makes me laugh now because I am NOT a good singer and I don't usually sing in front of other people, but I went all out. (Our room was shared with four other babies and their families just separated by thin curtains). Also, it was the middle of the night!
But, something strange happened. That verse filled me with something I don't even know to write down. My body responded in a powerful way. It was like breathing again after you've been drowning and someone has given you CPR. I took a deep breath that filled me with warm soothing air. It was God's grace. It was the unexplainable peace described in Philippians 4:6-7. I felt lifted up. I felt like I was wrapped in a blanket. The situation wasn't up to me. It wasn't up to me to save her or figure out anything. All I could do was lift my eyes up and trust in the God who is still in control and still on the throne no matter how dismal life gets.
I wasn't less sad or even less scared. I was just peaceful.
It's kind of like the season we're in. It is ok to be scared and sad and weary. But God has this gift of peace that He wants to layer on top of all of these emotions we feel. He wants to fill in our gaps with his rich peace that keeps us anchored in any storm.
Can I confess something to you? There have been so many situations in my life where I have felt the exact opposite of peace. I am not a peaceful person by nature. My go to is panic, worst-case scenario, and crippling stress. I am the kind of person who realizes she hasn't taken a deep breath all day. I set alarms to remind me to breathe and pray. I practice breath prayers before I get out of bed.
God is changing me. He is showing me how to choose peace when I don't feel peace.
My Four Favorite Ways to Find Peace in the Chaos
I learned about breath prayers in my Moms Group when I was a new mom. Breathe in and say a name for God. Breathe out a phrase or request.
For example, breathe in deeply and say in your mind or out loud “Holy Spirit,” then breathe out deeply through your mouth and say to yourself or out loud, “Bring me peace.”
Keep breathing and repeating the phrases until you feel that you are truly at a calmer place and really receiving what you have asked for!
One of my kids has really latched on to this and does it all the time, even in the middle of scary movies at the movie theater in front of strangers!
Read more about Breath Prayers here.
2- Sing Peace
Is it just me or is there something so powerful about playing worship music? I remember going through a season of motherhood where every day felt like I was living in a giant mess. It was like groundhog's day. Every day I would clean the same high chair tray a million times, snap at my kids, apologize, and count down the hours until bedtime. An older and more experienced mom gave me the advice to let worship music play in my home every single day.
It's one of my go-to's now. It's kind of like brushing my teeth. I just put on my worship play list every day and let it flow in the background of all that we do. Singing along and letting it play even in times of chaos has added a lot of peace to our home.
I've shared this before, but this is my favorite verse song - The Peace of God by Scripture Lullabies. It's the verse from Philippians 4:6-7. I sing it LOUDLY especially when I feel a lack of peace. It goes like this:
Don't you worry about anything. Instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. And the peace of God, far beyond what we can understand, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus.
Because of this song I used to play for my babies, I have this verse memorized and so do they. This is a great one for your "when-in-a-storm toolbox."
3- Quote Scripture
Pick a few verses that remind you to claim God's peace. Write them down on notecards or print them out and put them all over your house, in your purse, in your car, in your Bible or wherever you can easily pick them up and repeat them over and over again. Here are our Peace pocket prayers if you want to use these!
4- Let Dad Handle It
A few years ago, I was struggling with a situation that made me feel guilty and afraid and overwhelmed. There was nothing I could do. I had already apologized and worked it out with Jesus, but I kept replaying it in my mind. I felt tormented by my lack of peace.
My beautiful friend, Alyssa, who is so close with Jesus prayed over me and she told me that God wanted me to surrender it to Him and to "let Dad handle it." This immediately brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't believe He wanted to carry my burdens. He didn't want me to carry it any longer.
Do you know that you have a loving and compassionate dad who delights in you? He wants to carry your burdens. What do you feel afraid of right now? What do you feel guilty about? What is bringing you a lack of peace? Open up your hands right now and give whatever it is to God. He wants to fight for you and handle it for you.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Let dad handle it. He's got the whole world in His hands and do you know what that means? We are in very good hands!