It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.
This quote describes where I'm at most of the time. Don't get me wrong, other than the rowdiness of my dog there's not a lot of noise or trouble happening in my house. I'm talking about the noise in my mind, the trouble in my body and the hard work of keeping moving despite the effort it takes most days.
It's taken me a lot of years to get to a place where I can feel accepting of my life as it is and as it will be. There were so many years of fighting to be who I had imagined I would be at this point in my life. And the fighting turned out to be more exhausting than the accepting. It reminds me of a story I heard at church once about a man who didn't want to die and leave his home and his family. He was sitting on a beach thinking about his life and holding on so tightly that when he died, he had in the palm of his hand sand from the beach on Earth.
The man sat outside of the gates of heaven, but they wouldn't let him inside until he had let go of all he had been clinging to. But he refused to let go of the sand from the beach. It was his connection to his life, his family and his loves. One day he grew weary and decided it was time to move on, so he opened his hands and brushed away the sand he had been holding.
The moment he did this simple gesture he found himself on the beach he loved surrounded by everything he cared about. That was heaven. It was everything he wanted, but before he could have it he had to let go.
I found that experience when I let go of trying to be something I used to be. When I let go of my earthly ideas of who I should be and how I should live, I got everything I really wanted. I have authentic relationships that are based on real connections. I am closer to my family. I have opportunities to be creative and expressive, it just came in a different form than a job. I am loved and respected and cared for and cared about.
What else is there that I could need?
Now, the reality is that the noise and trouble creep in all the time. There are moments when I keep the shades drawn because the sunshine outside is just a reminder that I can't be outside and a part of it. There are those moments when I see myself in a new photograph and am startled that I don't see the same face I always knew... it's a face that's a little swollen and medicated and sick. Sick with a smile, but sick nonetheless. There are moments of watching people dance and longing for the days of being carefree.
But that's where the Peace comes into play. If you read that quote at the top of this post, you notice it doesn't say that peace in your heart wipes out the noise and the trouble and the hard work. It just makes them bearable. It makes them the background noise to everything that's important. And what is important is that God gave me gifts and I used them. And if I don't have those gifts anymore I believe it's because He doesn't have a need for me to use them anymore. But that doesn't stop me from seeing the gifts that remain. The gifts that come from the hard stuff. The gifts that allow me to have peace in my heart while the noise and trouble and hard work rumble on.
I got everything I really wanted, once I let it all go.