Swigging hot beverages, the patrons gazed at laptops, typing like mad or just staring in a mesmerized trance. Some chatted in easy camaraderie with smiling friends. Others settled back on the broken-in-to-perfection leather chairs, devouring the daily news along with a fresh cuppa joe.
The atmosphere gave the illusion of relaxed nonchalance in this local coffee hangout. Maybe the feeling settled in because I’m really not ensconced in the hubbub of the big city but merely in Chicago’s shadow a few miles away.
And then I begin to notice, despite the soothing notes wafting through the speakers, and the obvious effort to set a serene mood, my first impression missed a few telling signs.
Subtle indicators revealed all moods may not be as peaceful as seemed.
The girl on the barstool typed frantically with her foot jiggling in sequence to the frenetic cadence. The suited man glanced at his expensive wristwatch every few seconds. A nervous laugh echoed hollow from the young man being interviewed for a job. And the unhappy guy next to me expounded on and on with loud animation to his squirming companion about his pet peeve—an unwelcome surprise—no paper towels in the bathroom.
A surprise like the curveball we got when we pulled the old powder bath cabinets down in the powder bath, circa 1980 avocado green walls promised an easy fix with a fresh coat of paint—right?
Wrong—the ugly truth revealed itself as the cabinet crashed to the floor. With an appalled gasp and a disgusted shudder, we gazed on the destruction.
Exposed before us and wrought during years and years of silent queens and stealthy workers, remained an abandoned termite colony. Eaten to pulp and carved solid with mud runs, the ruined sheetrock demanded replacement.
And I think of the secrets we hide so well—
Like living so overloaded we feel we are going crazy, or shrouding our shaky faith, or our fight with depression.
We hide clues behind invisible walls,
We hide behind bright smiles,
We hide signs from our friends, our children and often our spouses.
We may paddle against the current because we run afraid of what others will think.
Or as self-protection because previous hurts run deep.
Or because we buy into the lie hissing, “Everyone else seems to be handling life just fine.”
Or just a rooted stubbornness saying,” I don’t need to let God or others in, I can handle it myself, thank you very much.”
So we suffer in silence. Carving our own mud runs of destruction beneath our coffee shop facades.
When I feel the mounting pressure and the old familiar grip of tension in my shoulder, I know to return to being a Peace Pirate by stealing back what the world takes away and I:
1.Pray for relief -Steal back quiet time; only God knows my needs and how to give it.
2. Breathe deep-Steal back air to fill my lungs and push out negativity and tension.
3. Exercise-Steal back endorphins; anything to get the blood flowing. From a quick trip to the YMCA, a brisk three minute walk every hour, to a few turns outside during lunchtime.
4. Forgive someone (It may be yourself) Steal back peace of mind. Unforgiveness is a black hole of desolation.
5. Be thankful daily-Steal back a grateful demeanor.
Psalm 29:11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
-What is stealing your peace and sanity? Commune continually with God, confide in someone else if possible.
-Work through the five steps.