ISSUES OF FAITH: Find true peace as children of God

IT IS ALWAYS nice to find out about something that improves your day or your life.

It might be a particular author that suddenly grabs your attention; it might be a restaurant that has something that you look forward to; it might be a habit you develop that you find peace in.

Whatever it is, the comfort, joy or peace you experience is something that doesn’t easily leave your heart and mind.

Sometimes we might try and get someone to enjoy something as much as we do and fail. This is not uncommon.

But it shouldn’t keep us from trying — in good faith, of course — and there are times where our normal boundaries might stretch and we are grateful for being “pushed”; you might even say, “Why haven’t I done this before?” or even “heard of this before?”

When I returned from Poland last summer and was talking in-depth about the experience to my mom, with pictures as well, she asked me, “Why haven’t I heard of this before?,” referring to World Youth Day. It is a great question, considering the enormity of the event.

Probably, though, because it was a peaceful event, attended by some 2.5 million youths and hence not controversial. It’s not going to make the nightly news because, if it can be stated, it was too peaceful.

I remember clearly the first time I attended a Catholic Church service and asked myself, “Why haven’t I heard of this before?” and “Why had no one told me about this?”

My wife ventures on a silent retreat (yes, silent) every year at Our Lady of Peace retreat center in Beaverton, Ore., for a few days and nights. I have to say I kind of laughed when I heard she was going the initial time years ago. My wife? Silent? I don’t know.

She talked me into going with her this past month. I didn’t know what to expect, except I knew she always returned home from this retreat relaxed and seemingly at peace.

I jumped in, and it blew me away. It is really all about God and allowing your heart and mind to rest and relax in him.

There are no gimmicks, or tricks.

There were priests, sisters (nuns), some local youths and lots of time to think about your place in the world and where God wants you.

There were no epiphanies, just peace and quiet. In a figurative sense, you look at yourself in the mirror and allow Jesus to form you. I will return next year, God willing.

It is a good thing that we all have different interests, or the world would be a boring place.

Jesus said, “I came so that you may have life, and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).

Our personalities are as varied as grains of sand on a beach.

But one thing we cannot escape or minimize, or fail to understand: We are created by God, hence children of God. We will only find true peace when we recognize this and cultivate it.

A friend of mine used to say, “How’s that working for you?” when our actions kept leading to an undesirable result. It is kind of a flippant question, but there is some truth there.

Your life — how’s that working for you? Are you battling with the same things over and over again? Are there chronic problems that never find a solution? Have you invited Jesus into your life, or is your God something, or someone, else?

Look, Jesus knows you better than you know yourself. Not a cliché; it just is.

Winston Churchill once described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Jesus, on the other hand, is a pretty simple man. If you want to get to know him, read the Gospels.

You may say, “Why haven’t I heard this before?” Pray to Jesus. You may say, “Why do I feel different?”

A couple of weeks ago, I took a group of teenagers to St. James Cathedral in Seattle. We got off the Peninsula for a retreat. It expanded our mind, our vision, perhaps even our world just a little.

Did we find peace? I think getting out of our comfort zone was rewarded.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Seek God, and he will recognize you.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim.

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