Finding Peace In The Midst of Turmoil

Strategies for reestablishing peace within yourself when unsettling emotions suddenly arise.

Have you ever struggled to feel at home within yourself? Have negative thoughts and emotions ever bombarded you like foreign invaders, triggering fears that left you unsettled? When we experience negative emotions to a new extreme, or when jarring thoughts worm their way into our minds, we can be unnerved and unsure how to restore shalom in our lives.

The Hebrew word shalom means “peace.” But it’s not just any kind of peace. It’s one that surpasses understanding, grounds us in the love of God, and produces joy in the face of life’s troubles.

Shalom, however, isn’t the kind of peace that only abounds in the absence of conflict. Rather, it’s a peace that anchors you to Christ in the presence of a storm. Shalom can restore rest to your heart despite any difficult circumstances.

Emotions like grief, depression, and anxiety can surface abruptly in our lives, leaving us feeling trapped and unsure how to feel shalom again. When considering how to reestablish a healthy emotional baseline and restore God’s peace to your heart, consider these tools and resources below.

Explore the Power of Journaling

Journaling is a dynamic tool designed to unscramble your thoughts and emotions, bring you closer to God, and shine light on the root of the issue. There are many types of journaling, but here are a few suggestions:

Artistic Journaling

Get out your paints, stickers, ephemera, and stamps to begin creating a reflection of your inner world on a blank page. Invite God to shine his encouragement and wisdom on the condition of your heart.

Journaling for Self-Awareness

Describe your current thoughts and emotions through writing. Keep writing until you have nothing else to describe and then ask yourself this powerful question: “Why am I experiencing these thoughts and emotions?” Then continue writing. This should be a safe place to explore your internal distress.

Prayer Journaling

Write out your prayers to God by pouring out your heart to him like David did in the book of Psalms. Share with God what is troubling you and remind yourself to place your hope in him. While this can be therapeutic, it also provides God the space to respond in his still, small voice because now your loud emotions are out of your head and on the page. 

Make Time for Self-Reflection

Self-reflection is a lost art in our culture. We tend to have our noses in our phones, neglecting to give our brains a break from the distractions these little devices bring. As a result, many of our negative emotions are stuffed into the bottles of our hearts, only to explode at a later (and often inappropriate) time when our hearts simply cannot hold any more. 

Anxiety, restlessness, depression, and feeling overwhelmed are cues for rest and reflection. These kinds of emotional health issues are warning signs of an impending storm. To change this, we need to learn to be quiet within ourselves. This process includes creating uninterrupted space for our emotions and thoughts to “bubble up” for contemplation. If we don’t take time to course correct, we might sail into a downpour that could leave us shipwrecked. By practicing self-reflection, we can identify our troubled thoughts, allowing emotions to gently rise to the surface like waves rather than thundering down on us like lightning strikes.

Replace Negative Thoughts with Scripture

Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Instead of allowing negative, unhelpful thoughts to run your life, replace them with Scripture. The book of Psalms is a great source for encouragement. 

My personal favorite is Psalm 103 because it reminds me of God’s character and his faithful love toward me. It also provides my soul with instruction. When discouragement clouds my mind, all I need is to read verse 1 and be reminded to “bless the Lord . . . [with] all that is within me” (NKJV). Refocusing negative thoughts into praise has transformative power to shift an inner struggle.

Seek Christian Counseling 

Sometimes our personal struggles are heavier than we know how to carry and work through on our own. We may need others to help us navigate difficult emotions in a healthy manner. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”

Christian counselors are trained to help us become better managers of our thoughts, emotions, and boundaries. They provide a neutral sounding board, constructive advice, and insight into our deep emotional battles through the lens of Scripture.

Never be ashamed to seek professional help when you are emotionally suffering. Not everyone may agree with this choice, but don’t let that discourage your decision. Ultimately, it’s not their job to maintain your mental and emotional health. It’s yours.

Journaling, self-reflection, replacing negative thoughts with Scripture, and counseling are four practical ways to begin restoring the peace of God to your heart when you find yourself in unfamiliar emotional waters. Shalom is always within reach; we simply have to be intentional to reach for it.

Amanda Schenkenberger is a faith and wellness coach, Bible-journaling instructor, coffee enthusiast, and mom of four boys. @movethemountains

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version of the Bible. Verse labeled NKJV is from the New King James Version.

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