The pursuit of peace.
While recognizing there is much more to Buddhists and Christians, I am pondering some concerns regarding the pursuit of peace.
We live in a time and society that drives us with a hectic drum beat. The political situation has escalated fears and insecurities. Violence is prevalent and fills the media. People are pushing against each other in their attempt to increase a perceived sense of security. I see wedges being driven between people unite who with those who hate what they hate.
The heightened level of crime and trauma to individuals leaves a wake of inner despair and anxiety.
We are in need of PEACE. Individually and as a society.
A desire to distance ourselves from suffering and discomfort is inherent within all of us. Our minds are creative in coming up with ways to detach. We easily incorporate our desire for spiritual growth without recognizing that we are rationalizing our driven-ness for denial. We squash full self awareness and limit rich life-giving connections with God and others.
I have heard of the term ‘spiritual bypass’ describing when a person uses their spiritual pursuit as ‘an avoidance of underlying emotional issues by focusing solely on spiritual beliefs, practices and experiences.
Clarke, P. B., Giordano, C. S., & Lewis, T. F. (2013, January ). The Straight Path to Healing: Using Motivational Interviewing to Address Spiritual Bypass. Journal of Counseling and Development
Our need for inner calm is vital. Our pursuit of it can lead to other predicaments if we are not careful. In our attempt to keep anxiety and other negative emotions at bay, we may develop unconscious agendas of controlling others, shutting them and ourselves down, while hindering authenticity and compassion. Rather than developing true peace in secure attachments, we may be like the prophets described who claimed “Peace. Peace” when there was no peace.
Research reveals that one of the strongest predictors of good mental health is a mind that can feel emotions fully and get back to a place of internal calm.
The Buddhist’s life of serenity entices us towards calm.
Jesus desires us to have lives of peace. He beckons us to come to Him and find peace that is different than what the world gives.
Is our pursuit of peace a venture into the ‘dismissive attachment pattern’ or truly growing into true security? Do we present a calm surface when there is turbulence below?
It is wise to ask ourselves if are our pursuits of peace are at times actually a journey into a minimization of significant problems. Are we using our practices of ‘spirituality’ in ways that are actually embracing the dismissive attachment pattern?
Is the Buddhist attempt to gain a life of calm through meditation more of a training in becoming dismissive? The focus seems to be more of dampening emotions than strengthening the individual’s core to be able to fully engage emotionally in life.
What of us Christians? We have many verses that pass among us, encouraging us to trust and not to worry about our future. Are we being encouraged to minimize the full impact of harsh situations and ‘care less’? Does the agenda then subtly become to try to get others to ‘chill out’ more than to join each other on our journeys? Do we justify withdrawing from hard situations and weeping with others who weep by claiming seemingly ‘biblical’ principles?
Is the ideology of ‘trusting Jesus’ at times an encouragement to avoid grappling with the full significance of harsh realities? Do we use our ‘spirituality’ as a guise for denial, minimization and a lack of true faith.
I think the key is in the relationship we actually have with God.
We are told in Isaiah 30:15 that in quietness/ peace and confidence/ trust is our strength. As we focus on our God and who He is, our souls will settle into a place of peace and confidence. And we will have ongoing and increasing strength to enter into the hard aspects of life.
To the degree we have a strong confidence that He is our Savior, Deliverer, Redeemer, Restorer, Provider, Defender… He is the One who ultimately will bring about Justice and Be the Victor regardless the battle- we will have the foundation from which to enter into full awareness of challenging situations. We will be capable of experiencing the full range of emotions that accompany living in this world that has hard trials.
Wrapped in the security of our Interactive Presence, we can have a peace, not like the world gives. We can have confidence and ‘good cheer’, for God has it under control. He has our backs. He will make all things ultimately into something good for us. All is well with our souls. Peace!