Peace and Contention

I found myself at a crossroads recently requiring that an important decision be made in my life. I was to go either left or right. There were no other options, and there was no more time. Many months of pressing torment had culminated into a period of less than 24 hours in which a choice had to be made. The moment of truth was at hand. Fortunate enough to have a clear mind and conscience throughout my painstaking preparation, my choice had at last been made and it was time to act. But before the outcome was clear, I received a bit of counsel from my mother which I feel compelled to expound upon and share.

Whether you are contemplating your resignation from a dead end job, are in the process of making a difficult move, are a spouse in a complicated marriage, living in a less-than-ideal environment, a victim of abuse, addiction, or any other variety of troubling circumstance, it really comes down to feeling one of two emotions: peace and contention. Obviously the cases outlined above are clear examples of contention in our lives. However, we always have a choice. Though it be safe to say that every one of us is seeking peace, do we choose it?

We have to make a choice, and it isn’t always as clear or easy as we think. But one thing is clear: peace and contention cannot coexist, and that is a fact. Too many people in this world choose contention and live their lives miserably because of it. Grinning and bearing it, they are dying inside. These are the trapped employees, the hopelessly indebted, the battered spouses, the addicts, and the phobics. If we choose contention, often in order to preserve a relationship, perpetrate the illusion of stability, avoid judgement, failure, humiliation, confrontation, or hang on to a fleeting past or cherished moment or idea, we are needlessly submitting ourselves to a woeful despair. A whirlpool of worry spiraling downward in the gulf of grief. But I am telling you it doesn’t have to be that way. Like I said before, we have a choice.

We can choose peace. But, just like most any other good thing in life, it comes often at a trying cost. Why doesn’t the disgruntled worker quit his job? Why does the battered wife remain with her offender? Why does the alcoholic relapse, the hermit retreat, and the faithful doubt? I submit that it is because of the unknown. In life sometimes there is no new job on Monday, loneliness is likely, sorrow, physical danger, and offense are inevitable. But despite those happenings there can be peace. An indescribable calm and clarity known only to those who take the plunge. The dissipation of the contention and strife, the parting of the clouds and illumination of the mind, is what propels us to our new successes. Things will work out. They always do. Our souls and spirits are exceptionally sensitive things, and the heart wants what it wants. But we always have a choice. Do we choose contention, or do we choose peace?

So I decided that I did not want contention any longer in that one particular facet of my life, and I chose peace. My decision was made. And, as a result, in an instant I found myself outside on a snowy day carrying a box of my things as I walked away from my troubles, not once looking back. And though that sounds metaphorical for all of us choosing peace for an unknown future, it was quite literal! And though much still remains unknown and my life still troubled in many ways, I am telling you there is peace. And that peace is worth everything it requires. 

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