Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Searching for peace in 2021


I went into the Christmas season the day after Thanksgiving dreading it this year and ended up enjoying it very much.  Even if it did take two days to pack up and put away the decorations.  Just yesterday, I was still locating items that I had moved in order to make space for the sparkle.

At first, I had to force myself to listen to the music and enjoy the atmosphere Christmas brings to the house but as time went on, everything I had chosen to see... and hear... and read... had a profound effect on bringing peace.

The process taught me a Truth that will be necessary in 2021.  That is... what I allow in my immediate surroundings will either bring peace or distress, sanity or confusion, and truth or deception in my life from now until I enter Eternity one way or another.

I began to feel peace at Christmas after I surrounded myself with the stuff and sparkle of the season that brought memories of people I care for now and who are no longer present, past seasons that were lovely and those that were tinged with sadness and grief, stories I have read and stories I have told, God's Word and God's people. 

Each ornament, every decoration, the songs I have listened to for decades... they were like altars of remembrance and anchors of Truth in a whirlwind of change.   These people and the values I hold true were not fleeting images of a way life only in memory.  They were and are real.  They are still important.

I had been feeling that I no longer wanted to be part of a world such as we found ourselves in 2020.  It wasn't the pandemic, not really.  While the pandemic brought distress to many people, it was only an inconvenience to me as I have had to stay at home during the flu season for many years, anyway.  

Whenever I was annoyed when that which I needed at the grocery store was unavailable, I thought of the people throughout the world who live with these inconveniences every day of their life.  With more hardship than most of us have ever known. That brought it all into perspective.  

No, it wasn't the pandemic that had made me heartsick by Thanksgiving.

While I found the election commercials annoying, in many ways they were not that much different than we have had every four years in America for a long time.  For decades, by the time the election rolled around, if one believed everything that was said, neither candidate should be running the country.

The events around the world with wars and rumors of war were unsettling but not unexpected if one believes we are near the return of Christ.  Earthquakes in diverse places?  Check.  People living as in "the days of Lot"?  Check.  A world filled with violence as in the "days of Noah"?  Check.

None of the above was something I wanted but honestly, none brought on the heart sickness and the emotional fatigue that I was feeling.  What I realized during those quiet Christmas days was that these emotions were coming from what I see happening in the Church. 

I had already become spiritually fatigued as I saw more and more Christians put down those of us who still hold true to Biblical principals and the Bible as ultimate Truth.  I expected that from the world in general but not from people in the Evangelical and Conservative Catholic churches.

Over Christmas, I came to realize why most of my friends who are my age and older are depressed.  This is not the world we knew.  These are not the values we were taught in these very same pulpits one or two generations ago.  It feels like an alternative universe but this is not a scifi film, it is the world in 2021.

Our finite bodies... and minds... and emotions... are not equipped to handle everything coming at us as it is today. Not when society is changing as fast as it is. It was hard enough on people when there was only the radio during the world wars and newspapers before that.  

I know society has never been sinless and that each country has many imperfections.  Even in the "good old days".  However, there was a very different culture that permeated society.  One can see it when viewing older TV shows.  Most of us really were on the same hymnal page.  Even those of us who did not grow up in church-going homes.

At the same time, there is no looking back with nostalgia for a simpler time because this is the hour and the day and the year God has chosen for us to be alive... to be salt and light in this very fallen planet.  We wouldn't be here if we were not a part of His plan.

How am I choosing to go ahead in the coming year, knowing the challenges that may be faced?  Just as I put everything in place at Christmas that would bring joy to my days, I am laying a foundation for the next months that I hope will help.

I have been making some changes to my social media intake and that seems to be working.  I have been un-following people and organizations that I really like but that have not been a part of my life for a long time.  It helps to streamline and limit all social media that way, leaving that which is most important right now.

I am putting into place some ways that I hope will help draw closer to God and His Word.  I decided to opt out of the Amazon Audible subscription for awhile, especially since I have a backlog of audio books ready to "read".  Instead, I subscribed to receive the material from She Reads Truth for a few months to see if that is a way of studying the Bible that fits my learning style. 

I am not entering a convent, although, come to think of it... that does sound appealing right now.  It wouldn't work because they probably wouldn't let me watch the latest episode of NCIS on Tuesday nights or order a pizza while watching a favorite movie.

I mean, I am seeking truth and peace but I am not ready to leave this world behind completely.  There is still that first cup of good coffee in the morning.  And pizza.  There are wonderful kids and kids-in-law and grandchildren.  And coffee.  And pizza.

Those of us who hold what the world would call "old fashioned" Christian values may be entering an even more challenging time in this country but it has not taken God by surprise.  He knows all about it.  He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, and that God who knows the number of hairs on your head.

Maranatha!  

Image:  The County Road in front of our place after a big snowfall a few years ago.  Very peaceful if one does not have to drive anywhere.

16 comments:

Kay said...

Brenda,
Thank you for the push to stop my Audible subscription. I find that I don't really have the time to listen to books with working full-time. I have several credits to use up and then I will stop my subscription. I will find books that I thoroughly enjoy to listen to while I am sewing.
And Thank you for putting into words why I am feeling as you are. Concerned, uneasy, stressed, tired. And because my world has narrowed due to the loosening of values around me, in the world and in the church.
Please, come quickly Lord Jesus!

Merri Mc Elderry said...

Hi and such beautiful, remarkable words as always here. God bless you .. and keep you on upward wing.. with all of us.. We are blessed we are tough in Christ.We are blessed we had mothers who taught us how to do things.. and grandmas and grandpas who lived and walked and talked with Jesus. We are blessed to have each other to hear these lovely kinds of foundational realities to bolster us. and help us remember that each breath is a miracle... that each step is peace if God is first in our lives. and we are blessed with the connection to the ONE ,.. the Savior who died on the cross for us.. to take this time, and TURN IT.. " I will overturn, overturn , overturn, it..."
God bless you for your eye of beauty in the small things... which allow us all to pause and regroup and find God first in our lives... that indeed brings the peace we seek. Lots of Love, Merri

Angela said...

It is so much more fun to get things out than put them up! 😊

Rebecca said...

You're right! It isn't the pandemic...🙏

lejmom said...

Beautiful post, Brenda. I think you helped me realize my discontent also. Our churches are being inclusive to the point that the fundamentals are being shoved out the door. We are being "forced" to accept behaviors and lifestyles that are not biblical. Not only in churches, but the world in general. I feel like we have entered the "end times"...

Thanks for your wonderful blog. I look forward to Saturdays and Sundays when you share with us.

Jane

Bernideen said...

Some of my friends are dealing with all the unrest by avoiding it and doing activities so as to not know what's going on. My husband and I are praying and fasting. When I say praying, I mean literally calling the scriptures out to God while playing worshipful Christian music. We print them out from a prayer group everyday so at this point we have pages and pages to turn to. I still am busy sewing and cooking, etc but while doing so I pray these scriptures and declare them. I am pretty loud about it sometimes! When everything is said and done I feel confident that God will be victorious in America. I would discourage any believer from "avoiding" what is going on. The news doesn't have to consume our time but if we go around pretending everything is fine and dandy we are very unprepared. My approach is more about being called to be a prayer warrior. Proverbs 21:22 says we are to be as warriors filled with wisdom ascending into the high place releasing breakthrough, bringing down the strongholds of the mighty!

elizabeth said...

Yes, I see and feel this too.thank you for the reminder of ways to regain peace ❤🙏

Suzan said...

Come Lord Jesus, come.

Our world is moving at such a pace. It is difficult for me to walk into a church. I haven't found a good fit...one day I will but now is not the time.

God bless.

Terri said...

Thank you for this post that struck so very close to home for me. Thanks for putting it into words. God bless.

Marge said...

Yes! Thank you, Brenda, for writing out my thoughts! And this is what we have to remember: "At the same time, there is no looking back with nostalgia for a simpler time because this is the hour and the day and the year God has chosen for us to be alive... to be salt and light in this very fallen planet. We wouldn't be here if we were not a part of His plan." EXACTLY! Now to remember this when things become overwhelming and the world seems to be crashing down all around us. We are here NOW for a reason. To be salt and light! Thank you!

Deanna Rabe said...

Ah friend. Good thoughts here about how to have peace in the midst of troubles. I know what you mean about the church, too.

Tim and I maybe getting rid of our Amazon account altogether.

We are praying and seeking the Lord for discernment and wisdom. Choosing to be light, choosing joy.

Karen said...

sad, tired , lost even at times..., I have come to terms with society going the way it is ...and even lost my 3 sisters just before the election in 2016, cut off without a word...we had always had different beliefs for 35 years, but all of a sudden I became unacceptable...but what has been the very hardest is that once again a new pastor has arrived at a solid church I attended and declared Christians to stop meeting in groups, stop studying the Bible ..stop READING it , because no one knows what it means anyway...this is the 3rd time in my 20 years as a Christian this has happened...and I am worn out from it...I know we are warned of the wolves, but I feel worn and sad...I left..maybe I should have stayed.You have explained it so well.

Alva Lee said...

Because of a situation I put myself into with disagreeing Christians, my health took a hit. I spent much of last night awake, praying, asking God how I can be salt and light with my health conditions and my rapidly advancing age. I hate what is happening among Christians. For now, I pray. And I "fix" myself. I repent. I lament. I fill my mind with God's Word. I read encouraging things, like your blog. And I pray more. And yes, I eat pizza and drink coffee! :) Thank you so much for your encouragement! As I pray, I'll remember to pray for you.

Kathy T. said...

Such an oppressive feeling around me, and I'm not exactly sure what it is - probably just a combination of everything you described. I'm lucky in that I attend a bible based church and our pastor is really good at teaching and explaining the Word. This world scares me now, and I have come to rely on the comforting words of God and turn to Him in all things. I pray we see revival in my lifetime.

Melissa said...

Thank you that you are still Blogging! Yes, I deleted a few accounts that I don't need to read either, I am only following just a few people...how can I remember who is doing what when there are so many on the list that keep scrolling by?! I know others are just going back to Blogging, so that will be a "special invested time" to read their words and enjoy the pictures of beauty, and not just filling up my time.
My husband is teaching on Ezra/Nehemiah this quarter and how very timely it is with our own concerns. The one main point is The Israelites had not been together for such a long time (70 years because of being dispersed/persecuted) and that they would have to learn how to function together again...would they make God their first priority when they got back to "normal".

Sherry said...

especially recently i've been challenged with anxiety over the current state of our country, relationships needing hard considerations, and the future. you've shared what i myself have not been able to put into words. while i lean towards living in a cave, i must be where God has me planted at this particular time - - and moving toward the future in an even more possible move.