“Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil; joy fills hearts that are planning peace!” Proverbs 12:20 (NLT)
If you’re a King James reader you might be more familiar with the phrase “counselors of peace,” or if you prefer NIV, you might have read it as “those who promote peace.” But I was especially struck by how the New Living Translation puts it: “hearts that are planning peace.” That phrase, planning peace, really stood out to me. It caused me to view peace and joy in a little different way than I ever had before. I started thinking, “How does one plan peace?”
There are a myriad of ways people can define or interpret peace. Peace on a global level, peace in interpersonal relationships, peace between groups of people. But since I am on a journey to learn more about peace and joy in my personal life, specifically as a wife and mother, I chose to think about what it means to plan for peace in my home.
How to Plan for Peace
Here are a few ways I came up with that I can plan for peace in motherhood:
- Spend time with the Lord
This is key #1 for me! The biggest way I plan for peace is by regularly spending time in the Word and in prayer. I am diligent about spending my first moments of the day with the Lord, and I am very protective of that time. I have found that I am so much more peaceful the rest of the day when I’ve started it out in edification. That is the most significant way that I prepare for peace.
- Develop a schedule
I’m a planner and I like routines and schedules. Having a schedule for the day makes me feel more in control – in control of my day, in control of my task list and productivity, and in control of my emotions! One way I can plan for peace is to develop a schedule for the day and stick to it. Obviously being a mother means having to be flexible sometimes, but the more structured my day is, the more peaceful I find it to be.
- Keep a list of Bible verses handy
If you wait until a crisis arises to turn to your Bible, it’s much harder to combat it than if you’re already prepared. Another way to plan for peace for me is to accumulate a list of Scriptures that are helpful to me in various situations. That way they are available as soon as I need them. Examples of lists I’ve made are verses about joy, verses about provision, and verses about worry or anxiety. Other list ideas might be faith, love, how to relate to your children, or … peace! Having such lists already made is an excellent way to prepare your heart for peace.
- Develop a cool down strategy
In the heat of a battle is not the time to figure out how to be peaceful. Be prepared. Know what you’ll do when your husband makes you so angry you could spit or your kids drive you to the brink of insanity. Plan for peace by developing a cool down strategy in advance. If you need some ideas, you can use my steps for inspiration.
- Have responses ready
In general, I’m not one who enjoys thinking on her feet. I like to have time to prepare for things. This includes giving appropriate responses. One thing that helps me speak more lovingly toward my husband and toddler is preparing certain responses in advance. Doing so helps prevent me from saying something thoughtless or unkind just because it’s the first thought in my head. For example, I have certain phrases that I will say to my toddler when he’s doing something he’s not supposed to do, such as, “We don’t hit because that is not nice,” or “I can’t understand you when you whine. Try to tell me what you want with words or signs.” Knowing what I’m going to say ahead of time keeps me from spouting out what I really feel like saying when I’m frustrated. This restraint helps maintain peace and preserve our relationship.
- Always keep the big picture in mind
This is a go-to strategy for me, no matter what I’m talking about in motherhood … or life! That’s because I believe so much in the energizing power of big-picture perspective and vision. This is true with any goal or undertaking or “calling,” if you will, and motherhood is no exception! Motherhood is so demanding, and I can quickly tire of my responsibilities when I fall back into the tunneled vision of the daily grind. When I remember my vision and the “why’s” of raising my children, however, it settles my spirit and restores my heart’s tenderness toward my family.
- Make plans for personal time
You can’t be peaceful if you’re depleted! Plan for peace by planning for space. Space for relaxation, space for personal growth, space for an investment in you. Plan ahead and make the time to refuel and recharge.
- Invest in my relationships
Plan for peace by taking the time to invest in your most important earthly relationships – the one with your husband (if you have one) and the ones with your kids! Your home will be more peaceful the stronger the bonds between the ones who live in it. There won’t be much peace if you’re constantly fighting or you’re like strangers sharing a roof. Invest in strengthening and growing your relationships by learning about interpersonal communication, spending quality time with each other, and regularly performing loving and selfless acts for each other.
- Organize my life
I have a very low tolerance for chaos. It makes me feel frazzled, and when I’m frazzled, I find it extremely difficult to remain at peace with those around me. So another way I can plan for peace is by developing systems that help minimize chaos in my personal life, in our schedules, and in our home. Examples of the kinds of systems I’m talking about include planners and calendars, a variety of totes and bins to organize things and keep them contained, and a spreadsheet for everything! Don’t get me wrong – my house is not pristine by any stretch of the imagination, but I do what I can to keep things in designated places to keep them corralled and easily accessible when I need them.
- Identify my stressors
I’ll conclude with my other biggie. Get to know yourself! Identify what recurring triggers are stressing you and making you less than peaceful. Is it certain people or settings? Is your schedule too full? Are you neglecting your diet and health or skimping on your sleep? Once you’ve identified the things in your life that regularly leave you agitated and joyless, then you can begin to figure out how you can minimize those stressors. Plan for peace by creating a defensive strategy against the stress in your life.
These are just a few of the ways that I have found I can plan for peace in my own life. I am certainly not perfect, or even good, at all of them. As with a lot of my blog posts, creating this list was as much a reminder to myself as it was an encouragement to my readers! Once again, I invite you to join me in the journey. This is a road we travel together, side by side, keeping each other company and encouraging one another to keep going! The destination is beautiful, and even better with friends.