Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Peaceful and Peacemaking in IEP meetings and Life

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We … continue to live through the Spirit’s power and wait confidently in the hope that things will be put right through faith. …
The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Galatians 5:5,22,23 (The Voice)

When God reigns, the order of the day is redeeming justice, true peace, and joy made possible by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:17b (The Voice)

After homeschooling my oldest (with ASD) for 8 years, I decided to send him out to school. This was 4 years ago. In that period, he's been to two schools, and I'm thinking about exploring a third option. Now, the biggest reason I homeschooled him was that it was easier than the persistent and painful conversations needed to cajole, negotiate, advocate with the powers that be, for his best interest as I see it. 

Learning a new school takes a lot of time, for both of us. Sometimes I feel the time is well spent, most times I feel the frustration of Sisyphus carrying water in a basket, up hill. Whether to engage a new school, or to remain in the current one, the barest thought has my chest tightening, and my shoulders bunching, as the anxious feelings flood my system before I have even formed a coherent rationale. It seems as if peace is hard to find.

God is wise, and clearly knew that, left on our own, we have no idea how to maintain internal peace, nor peace with each other. The current political climate and racial tensions in the US highlight this integral human struggle: the difficulty with difference, with the other, with not being able to control the outcomes, with being peaceful, peaceable and peacemakers. I'm tempted to wonder why they can't be peaceful and why they can't be peacemakers. The Gracious God quickly reminds me of my struggles to be peaceful internally and how perplexed I feel trying to be a peacemaker while negotiating and advocating for my son's needs.

Peace Inside?

Prioritizing internal peace has been a recurring theme of mine for the past couple of months, and that means building my awareness of my rapid cascade into panic at the drop of a hat. What are my triggers? What am I believing? How can I help myself? What is my gracious Father saying to me in this moment? What tools has He made available? What way of escape has He created that I can't yet see?

Peace Without?

When I'm not aware of my internal state, it's easy for me to navigate relationships and the world at large in a state of fight, flight, freeze! Who knows which option I'll choose if you cross my path! And even when I'm exercising supreme self control, almost completely hiding the fact that I'm close to the edge, my non-peaceful state can be felt by others, whether they are aware of it or not. Like other humans, my emotional state is contagious! And in my home, who knows who's initiating the emotional tsunami? Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed, full of anxiety and fear, and it's downhill from there!

God Does it!

The kingdom of God operates on different rules than our earthly systems. And some days, I remember. I remember that the King of the Kingdom lives in me, and empowers me to live the kingdom way. What's that way? The way of righteousness, peace and joy, made possible by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). After all, peace is a produce (by-product) of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The peaceful, peaceable and peacemaking life is a supernatural reality, available to me as I remain open to the control of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16; John 15:5).

Me First!

So it does start with me. Not to exert extreme control, to clamp down on my panic and not spread it, but to yield to the flow of peace from the Spirit, and to lean into the Peaceful One when I'm wracked with panic and fear of the future. The anxious feeling may not leave me, but true peace is more than a feeling, it's a knowing. And when I know Peace lives in me, I can speak peace and negotiate peacefully, regardless of the struggles, pressures and just miserable behavior from others that I encounter. The Ultimate Source of Peace will permeate my being and flow out to others, hopefully bringing and making peace, whether in my next school visit, IEP meeting or Medicaid interview. Perhaps the healing our families and country need will happen, one person at time, as we all make peace a priority.

Dear Heavenly Father, May Your Kingdom come in our families and in all that concerned them. May your peace permeate my being so much, that I will be peaceful, peaceable and your peacemaker, helping to bring healing to this world you have given us to care for. 

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