Please be advised: this post discusses religion.
As the year draws to a close I inevitably find myself reflecting back on it. The most amazing thing I experienced this year was the birth of my daughter. I was blessed with a very healthy and happy pregnancy, and now with a very healthy and happy baby girl.
At the same time, life has been difficult in many ways. Not just for me personally but I’d venture to say for us collectively as a society – in America and across the world. We lost many incredibly talented and influential people this year including Elie Wiesel, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, John Glenn, Gene Wilder, and most recently George Michael. The list is quite long. And, in addition to the drama of American politics, there is so much economic, racial, and overall cultural strife in our world today. But really, there always has been. Suffering has always been part of humanity.
So how does one find peace on earth? I have struggled with attaining peace of mind my entire life. Even more than happiness I have sought after peace. I think this is largely because of the mental anguish I have suffered at the hands of both bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. I spent many misguided years searching for ways to quell the pain inside me.
I had even heard about the peace that Christ can bring, but I thought that it was not for me. I thought that only people who didn’t know any better found peace in Christ. That the promises of Christianity were all well and good for people who were raised that way or were unencumbered by understanding logic.
Little did I realize that I was the one who didn’t know any better.
My journey towards Christianity and ultimately Catholicism has been long and difficult. I have suffered doubts and disappointment, fear of judgment and ridicule. As Dostoevsky once said, “I believe in Christ and confess him not like some child; my hosanna has passed through an enormous furnace of doubt.”
Following Christ is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for those who want to be accepted on the world’s terms. (Couldn’t the same be said about living with bipolar?) Jesus warned, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22) Can strife bring us peace? I believe so.
As a newly converted Catholic I have spent many long hours cultivating peace in my heart and mind. So many times throughout the Mass the priest reminds us of the peace Jesus gives us. We are asked to offer each other a sign of peace as a symbol of our unity and peace in Christ. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27) We are told, “The Mass is ended, go in peace.”
I take these final words of the Mass to heart each time, resolving to go into the world with peace and impart it to others through my words and deeds. Inevitably I fail at this, being only human, and get caught up in the stress of daily life. I believe most people can relate to this, especially if you experience extra stress or depression around the holidays.
And while I have found peace on this earth by following Christ, it is not an easy path. But by praying to him, listening to him, and submitting to his will, I am constantly reminded of his love. The Gospel according to St. Luke proclaims, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
Please understand – I am not preaching and certainly not judging – I am simply explaining how I found peace in my life with bipolar disorder. There is real hope in Christ for those who seek it.
As the year draws to a close, I pray that you find hope and peace where you seek it, and that the new year brings you a multitude of blessings.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community