Artist, Author, Mental & Spiritual Health Mentor, Coach for the Creative Mind
How to embrace true and lasting peace from the Christmas Story
How to embrace true and lasting peace from the Christmas Story

How to embrace true and lasting peace from the Christmas Story

It’s one of those words that gets aired at Christmas time. Peace. Peace on earth and goodwill to all men. It’s certainly something that we are reminded of each year. But do we ever actually embrace true peace? Does it ever last? The Christmas Story is of course the reason we talk about peace at this time of year in particular. Peace came down at Christmas in the form of the infant Jesus; peace to a world divided, a world in turmoil and in captivity. And yet, here we are over 2000 years later, still pursuing true peace. All around us we see people, communities, nations, in angst and conflict with one another. So how to embrace true and lasting peace from the Christmas Story might seem impossible after all this time. And yet…

Shalom

Words are wonderful in my opinion. They convey so much, hold so much meaning, and can totally transform how we perceive something or someone. Take the word peace for example. The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. I’m sure it’s a familiar word to many. But do we truly know what it means? I didn’t until today. True shalom, or peace, is not merely an absence of conflict, instead, it is the presence of completeness, of wholeness. It is when something that is complex and made up of many intricate parts is made whole and complete.

Peace takes a lot of work. It’s not just the absence of conflict. True peace requires taking what’s broken and restoring it to wholeness whether it’s in our lives, in our relationships, or in our world.

the Bible project

The word shalom can be used in many different situations to convey this desire to restore something that is broken. It could be in reparation for damage caused to property whereby you make amends and compensate for the damage caused. You bring shalom in order to make whole what was broken.

It could also be used in the context of conflict between two peoples. Shalom is brought about when you set aside differences, lay down arms, and work together for each other’s benefit.

And it can also be used in relationships where you seek shalom when there is brokenness and disorder.

Shalom for our wellbeing

Peace can be taken further still in its true definition and applied to our own lives too. Shalom in our own well-being is something we seek daily. The desire to be at peace with ourselves is often challenging to attain in our hectic and busy world. The world is not at peace, so how do we ourselves be at peace within it? Life is complex, full of many moving parts and when any of these are out of sync your shalom breaks down. You are no longer whole, there’s a chink in the armour and you need to be restored.

But how?

Well, the Christmas Story points us to true shalom. As I said above, shalom is the restoration of something. It’s taking the time to bring about wholeness where there was brokenness. This is not an easy task. It takes dedication and hard work. But more than that it takes patience, humility, and love. The point of the Christmas Story was that God sent His Son to restore peace between man and God. Now, this was no easy feat, as you might imagine. But it was the restoration of this shalom that would be the focus of Jesus’ life on earth. Through patience, humility, and love, he sought to restore peace, not only between people and God but also within ourselves.

Patience

Patience isn’t always something we have in abundance, either with ourselves or with others. And yet, if we are to embrace true peace in our lives, we must practice patience every day. We cannot hope to bring about true shalom if we are impatient with people, if we don’t take the time to really understand them and seek a way together.

Similarly, we cannot embrace true peace within ourselves if we are not patient. How often do you scold yourself, put yourself down, find yourself dejected and sad because of something you struggle with? We are incomplete, evolving, growing, maturing, learning beings that seek to better ourselves. This takes patience. But when we are coping with difficulty, be it physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental, we must learn patience if we are to find and embrace true peace within ourselves. Healing takes time. And so must shalom.

Humility

The Christmas Story tells of how the infant Christ was born in a stable among the cattle and dirt. He came into the world, not in splendour and riches befitting a king, but in quietness, obscurity, and humility. By humbling himself he could get alongside people at their level, really talk to them, know them, and connect. Restoration of shalom was made possible by this act of humility.

This is so true for us also. We cannot hope to embrace true peace in our lives if we do not practice humility. Humility towards others and ourselves. If we always think we’re right, that we know best, that we can’t take advice, and are not open to opposing points of view then we will never know true shalom. Peace requires us to admit when we need help, to seek another way, to challenge our thinking, and to realise that true restoration is only possible when we humble ourselves to greater truths.

For some, peace is found in fleeting moments that they chase around every day. A moment of peace stolen between tasks. But this isn’t real peace. Real peace is found elsewhere, outwith our limited thinking. For me, and many others, it starts in a stable in Bethlehem in the true story of Christmas. It’s something that sees us through the toughest times with grace and a calmness of spirit that cannot be found anywhere else.

Love

To embrace true peace requires love. Loving ourselves and others as we are in that very moment. Whether we are in a state of shalom or brokenness, love is vital. The ability to bring about shalom means that we have to start where we are at; it means we have to love where we are at and accept it. But it also means loving enough to put in the hard work to restore that incompleteness, in ourselves and others. True love means accepting as is, but hoping for the future. It’s about being patient, humble, gentle, kind, unenvious, it is not greedy, is not self-seeking, and doesn’t record wrongs. True shalom requires the best of us.

Embrace true peace this Christmas and all year

If we are to embrace true peace in our lives we must love completely, show true humility, and practice patience every day. No easy task. But if we seek to embrace true peace, we can bring about shalom in its truest definition, both in our lives and those around us.

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