“At peace ≠ in control.”
This was all I wrote in my journal the other day. Because as I’ve watched my baby learn to self-soothe, I’ve realized the healthy and unhealthy ways I too tend to self-soothe. In moments of stress or anxiety, my way of coping is to find something to control. They aren’t necessarily bad things – I furiously clean the dishes or push myself during a workout or work on a project I know I’ll succeed at. But underneath the task is an idol – an attempt to fabricate control in order to find peace.
Peace sought through the means of control is always temporary. I might feel calmed down after seeing a clean kitchen or productive after breaking a sweat or satisfied after checking an item off my to-do list. But when the next stressful, unplanned moment comes, I’m no better prepared to cope with it because my peace wasn’t grounded in something permanent.
As much as I think being in control brings me peace, it only brings the illusion of it, like a mirage of water in the desert only caused by temporary conditions of light refractions and heat. As soon as conditions change, the mirage disappears. And we’re left with the disappointing reality that there was never any water to begin with.
Culture only further reinforces this false sense of security, inferring that the more money we have, the more fit we are, the more we know, the more we can manipulate our destiny… the more at peace we will be. This is why in John 14:27 we see the countercultural peace that Jesus offers is “not as the world gives.” It’s peace that’s not superficial, not temporary and, most significantly, not dependent upon anything other than God’s goodness to us, which will never change. And, even when conditions do change, this peace still will not disappear.