1. a : lack of agreement; especially : inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one's actions and one's beliefs
For the past six or eight weeks, my Bible Study group has been studying several names of God. We've most recently been studying Peace and Healer and I've been pondering what it means for God to be our Peace - what that looks like, feels like and how to seek it rather than resist it.
Concurrent with this study, I've been reading along in the Celtic Daily Book of Prayer. The last ten or so days of May offered readings from one of my favorite books: Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From the Sea. This book is filled with lovely metaphors for life, found in Anne's time spent near the sea. One of her descriptions of having inner and outer harmony struck me as the very definition of peace. "Yes!" I thought when I read it. "That sounds like what peace is! When my thoughts and my actions aren't in battle, but in agreement. When I live the way I believe. When I listen and act." So as I've gone about my days, I've had this image of peace - one of harmony of agreement - floating around in my mind.
There have been periods of my life when I've experienced great peace. There have even been times when I've felt peace and known that it wasn't rational for me to be feeling peaceful: when I spoke at a women's retreat in 2010, the heater went out in my room on the first night of the retreat. It was early March and I'd had the heater on for a reason - there was a definite chill in the room. I called the front desk when the heater went out. I had been laying in bed reading, preparing to turn in for the night when I noticed that my heater wouldn't turn on. A call to the front desk yielded a trip from the maintenance man and a space heater. I put the heater near the bed, turned it on and returned to my book. A few pages in, the lights went out. Another call to the front desk: a fuse has been tripped. They reset it. I read another page or two. The lights went out again. Space heater, tripped fuse. Connection? Probably so. By this time it was a half hour or so past when I wanted to go to sleep. I had to speak in the morning. My stuff was scattered all over the room, unpacked, laid out for rest and contemplation. I didn't want a new room. In other circumstances, I'm sure I would have been angry, frantic, anxious or all three. Instead, I was amazingly calm. I put my book down and went to sleep. The next day I got a room change after I was done speaking. And it never really bothered me that this happened. It was definitely Peace, not just peace.
I've been longing for peace lately. And I've been trying to see where I'm not experiencing inner and outer harmony. Today I received an e-mail from a high school friend who read my blog post about attending our reunion and it made me realize the dissonance I'm experiencing is bigger than I originally thought. What I feel inside is not at all how I'm perceived by others. In my last counseling session, we touched on this. My counselor zeroed in on how even though I feel like I am falling apart, other people don't see it that way. I didn't even understand what she was saying at first because I try very hard to be authentic. My counselor said after the conversation that she wasn't sure why that was important for me to hear, just that she felt in the moment that she must share it.
The reunion has allowed me (forced me?) to examine the differences in how I see things and how others see them. J made a remark after the reunion about me having more influence than I realized. I didn't want to hear it. I mentioned this to friends last week - this idea that I don't see myself as a leader - and several of my friends looked at me with what might have been pity. So when my friend wrote, "I was surprised that you thought you weren’t liked in high school, or that people wouldn’t remember you! You were well liked and one the most known people from our class. You were one of our leaders... I hope you see that now." I was shocked.
No, I don't see that now. I still see a me who was set apart by overachieving. A me who felt an invisible barrier between me and classmates. A me who was considered a snob because I wasn't comfortable talking to people I didn't know well. A me who wondered why any guy would want to date me. A me who was insecure, self conscious and set apart. If that's not what others saw, who is right? Them or me? Am I who they thought I was or who I thought I was?
And regardless of who I was, who am I now? I know what I am: a wife, a mother, a homeschool teacher, a summer activities coordinator for three daughters, a chauffeur, a cook, a killer of bugs, a blogger of thoughts, a reader of books, a student of my Teacher. But how do I connect what I am with who I am? Does it matter whether I see myself the same way others see me? I think it does matter because if there is dissonance, there isn't peace. And I want peace. Even more, I want to be the me I'm supposed to be, whoever that is.
Is this a part of the unfurling process? Letting go of who I think I am in order to be who I really am? I'm not saying that I should let others define who I am, which you might think from reading what I've written. But the people who have made me stop and think about these things know me very well and I trust them. After the reunion, I spent the next day feeling like I'd been blind two decades ago. I saw things I didn't see at all in high school. Am I blind to myself as well? How do I open my eyes?
As I laid in bed pondering all of this and crying out to God asking who I am, the meaning of my name kept running through my mind: small, wise one. I don't feel very wise (although I am short, if not small). Who exactly am I? How can I see myself and live my life with more peace, less dissonance?