Shalom To You, Too

My husband is on a work trip this week, so I’m flying solo with my girls. It seems like every time he leaves, someone gets deathly ill. And by deathly ill, I mean someone usually ends up throwing up all over me. And that feels like death to me.

This time, I caved and now both of my girls have been sleeping in the bed with me because I just can’t walk up the stairs one more time to check on them in the middle of the night. This morning, I woke up before them. I laid in bed and listened to their soft breathing and watched their little, relaxed faces.

This season of little kids is filled with lots of things. Lots of noises and toys and activities. Lots of refereeing and teaching and talking. There are not very many noticeably peaceful moments in my normal day-to-day. Sometimes I get to bedtime feeling like I will throw a tantrum if anyone else needs anything more from me.

This morning, as I watched my kids sleep, I got to take a deep breath. I laid in bed and read a book. I watched them slowly blink their eyes open. Whisper hi to each other. Snuggle. We eased into the day in a way that doesn’t normally happen in our home. It was quiet and cozy and oh-so-sweet.

Eventually, we got out of bed and hit the ground running. Like most days. But it made me think…  How often do I miss these opportunities? How often am I in such a hurry that these moments of peace get lost in the chaos that I create? The chaos that I choose?

There are moments of peace tucked into our days. These moments don’t demand our attention. They aren’t flashy or invasive or obvious. And in order to find them, they require our full presence. That’s what I’m realizing.

I had a friend in college who would greet people with, “Shalom.” He would say hi and bye with, “Shalom.” He would pat you on the head if you were stressing out and say, “Shalom.” He would toast a cafeteria dinner with, “Shalom.” I always thought it was so funny and weird, but I never really gave it much thought. I’d just say, “Shalom to you, too.”

Oh, how I long for these moments, for shalom to be more of the norm in my little world and also in our great, big, hurting world.

Most people understand the word shalom as “peace.” But that only scratches the surface – it really means complete peace – a feeling of deep contentment, wholeness, harmony. That rare feeling you get when everything seems right and good. Oh, how I long for these moments, for shalom to be more of the norm in my little world and also in our great, big, hurting world.

But how do we experience a feeling of deep wholeness when so much seems wrong?

The good news – our God is shalom. He is perfect peace. When Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…” he says this as a promise. It’s not just a sweet, good idea. It’s not some puzzle that we have to solve, some secret we have to hunt down. As his children, we have full access to the perfect peace that is Jesus. This is part of our inheritance.

I believe part of accessing this perfect peace is in our hands.

He goes on to say, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” I believe part of accessing this perfect peace is in our hands. It’s in the moments that we’re tempted to choose fear, to choose anxiety, to choose defeat. It’s in the moments when we start to look at how the world gives and how the world operates, and are tempted to say, “I’m in trouble.” It’s in the moments that we are tempted to just keep doing and keep going and keep making things happen. It’s in all these moments when we, instead, choose to turn and to fix our eyes on Jesus. That’s when we start to experience the kind of peace that he offers.

And somehow, as we walk closely with Jesus, our feeling of deep contentment becomes less and less connected to our circumstances. We can brave the storms without fear, knowing that God is in it and with us and always for us. We can face the unknown with confidence and assuredness that there is nowhere we can go that he won’t be. And we can face our sometimes brutally boring day-to-day knowing that Jesus wants to show up for us in the busyness and chaos and also in the mundane.

I am such a doer. I struggle with an unquenchable need to be productive and efficient. To have my house clean and my projects done ahead of schedule and my sitters lined up months in advance. I crave order and predictability and calmness. Sick kids, spills on the floor, and random people stopping by during naptime are catastrophic to me. I did not plan for these things! I do not have time!

I can savor this. I can stay right here. Experiencing shalom sometimes means letting go of the constant control.

But that also means that I am so super prone to not notice the little, brilliant, beautiful moments. They are also interruptions. They also require a pause. An acknowledgment. A break in the scheduled things to say – “Oh. There you are, you little sweet, sleeping thing.” I don’t have to rush out of bed and take a shower before my children wake up. I can savor this. I can stay right here. Experiencing shalom sometimes means letting go of the constant control.

These little moments of peace aren’t necessarily life-altering, right? I mean, my few moments this morning watching my girls sleep did not negate the crazy-ness that immediately ensued. It didn’t make their whining and fighting seem all of a sudden adorable. It didn’t make the breakfast-eating and getting dressed any more exciting. But I think this moment at least prepared me a little better for the rest of the moments today. It let me start the day with a sense of wholeness, operating out of a deep breath and a present heart.

And these peace-filled moments help us stay centered and focused on the One who is perfect peace. A great conversation with a friend. That first sip of coffee in the morning. A long, hot shower. Sitting down to eat a good meal. Sometimes it simply requires slowing down enough to acknowledge these moments, however brief they are. Sometimes it just requires our attention, our full presence - showing up and patting yourself on the back and saying, Shalom to you, too.

Colorado Springs, CO

Emilie loves stories. Whether she’s reading, writing, listening, or telling them, she believes that our stories reveal the heart and nature of our God. Emilie lives in Colorado with her two feisty daughters and one handsome husband. She loves all things outdoors and summertime, her neighborhood and her people, and happy hour every day of the week.