Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Hello, Living Hope!
I am both nervous and excited to write the blog posts for this month. Blogging has been a way for me to reflect on and record my personal thoughts for years, but it's new for me to share them with others. It's a lot of pressure to think that my words need to carry a 'message,' so I want to write as I would speak in a conversation and share a little bit about myself.
My name is Hwayoung (sometimes I go by Jen if I choose to), I'm 24 years old, and I'm currently working as a 3rd grade teacher at a local elementary school. I can't say I'm an expert at many things, but I am one to enjoy a growing list of hobbies (collecting and listening to CDs, reading, painting, journaling, etc.). I enjoy hanging out with friends and family, but spending time alone engaged in an activity is how I feel recharged, balanced, and at peace.
I don't know if you have a favorite word or a theme word that defines your life, but mine would be peace. I desire and seek out peace; I define happiness as the state of being at peace; I experience God's presence through peace; I feel unbalanced and anxious when I don't feel at peace. The funny thing is, peace is not something you can try harder to achieve--it's actually quite the opposite of striving and straining. The more I scramble around to attain peace and find the perfect balance, the further I get from experiencing the essence of peace. For instance, when something small makes me upset or unhappy, I ultimately become more upset at the fact that I had lost my balance by becoming upset in the first place. Another example would be not allowing myself to become too excited about something because I dislike the feeling of coming down from that "high" back to the normal state, which in comparison feels like a "low." In essence, I try to avoid swaying towards any one end of the emotional spectrum in order to attain that perfect balance in the middle, which I have labeled as "feeling at peace."
As you could imagine, this is not an easy thing to do. I end up spending so much of my energy on maintaining my balance that I often miss the point of those emotions: Why I feel upset, what brings me joy, and how those moments make up who I am and reveal who God is. I daily need to return to the Scripture to remind myself of what Jesus says 'true peace' is.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
In this verse, Jesus speaks of peace, or shalom, which is not a worldly understanding of peace as an absence of conflict, but the idea that "all is well" in one's life by being in a right relationship with God (ESV Study Bible). He offers this shalom to His disciples as he predicts His coming departure and promises the Holy Spirit. He tells the disciples to neither let their hearts be troubled nor be afraid, for though Jesus may leave them, He is going to the Father, who is greater than He. In other words, Jesus comforts the disciples who can only see what is plainly ahead of them, which is the absence of Jesus. Jesus offers us shalom not in letting us hold onto what we see as good and necessary, but by shifting out focus towards the greater things to be done by God. If you love the Father, abide in Jesus, and trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that faith itself is the source of ultimate peace that surpasses the trials of the world.
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107:29
A wise Samonim (pastor's wife) once told me that knowing you are in the right place with God comes with the overwhelming sense of peace. Though you may not always receive a 'clear sign' when making important life decisions, you will experience the peace of God hushing the uncertainties of the world. We experience God's peace in the midst of the storm, not in the absence. Though it is this peace of God I desire to experience, I daily struggle with falling to the worldly ways of silencing the storm. If I just do the right things; if I just surround myself with the right people; if I just avoid the potential problems; if I just find the right hobbies to take my mind off things. I have and still continue to get derailed from the Truth by chasing my own ways of attaining peace. But each and every time I soon realize those roads fall short. The peace of God surpasses all temporary peace the world offers.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7