Sometimes we get little pieces of advice that stay with us forever. A friend (who has now become a dear friend) told me she never made a major decision without peace. It was an off-the-cuff comment, not necessarily aimed or directed at me but I examined the word of advice and then I examined her life. By anyone’s observation, you knew she didn’t have an easy life but she wasn’t anxious about anything. I often heard her say, “Oh well, I guess I’ll have to deal with that now, too,” and then she’d give a little laugh about it. Not in resignation but in resolution that you might as well laugh and deal with it, otherwise the blame game doesn’t have long-term “feel good” effects. She has peace within herself and it’s not very long before it becomes obvious to everyone.
I liked what I saw in my friend and I started to emulate her decision making process. (Yes, I know Christ is our perfect example but sometimes a mature Christian who is living it out in our generation is a helpful model.) Before making decisions where I might feel anxious, I wait on it, pray on it and keep still until I feel at peace in my heart. A Bible lexicon describes peace as “to sit down with one’s own heart”.
I’m conditioning myself to maintain peace before major decisions, and that’s great. Rarely, a decision needs to be made on the spot, and even so, since peace is a fruit of the Spirit, God’s grace covers quick decisions too. I give myself a solid ‘B’, maybe even a ‘B+’ in major decision making. (Can I do that? Grade myself? It’s not pride, is it?)
My struggle is not as much in making life decisions but in interactions with people, especially online reactions. It’s easy to send a snap response back to a biting email, or make a snide remark on twitter. I’m confrontational; when I release the fruit of the Spirit, the effect is gentle but outside of the fruit of the Spirit, I used to be downright mean. When I exercise the practice of patience and wait until I have peace to respond, I’m much kinder and resolution is more likely than if I unleashed what is in my heart at first response.
When I keep peace in my heart and only hit ‘send’ on my email response when my heart is calm then I am confident before the throne of grace that as much as it depends on me, I am at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18) That’s when I see the fruit of the Spirit in action in my life.