I’m reading a novel called Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb. The main character is a white Muslim from Ethiopia.
Before this book, I’d only encountered the word Jihad in the news. I know the media is not objective, but there are still some things I hear and take for granted as true.
Since 2001, the talking heads have told me that the meaning of Jihad is holy war. They said terrorists had declared Jihad on us and innocent civilians in the Middle East.
I had no reason to think their definition of Jihad was wrong.
But in Sweetness in the Belly, one character describes Jihad differently. He says, “Jihad is the holy war we have within ourselves. That is the meaning below the surface. Our eternal struggle for purity... It’s the war of ascendance over our basal instincts. It has absolutely nothing to do with others.”
One of my ongoing psychological struggles is a struggle for peace.
Peace is not something that sticks around when located. It’s a state of being that comes piece by piece.
When I was sick and looking for a diagnosis that made sense to me, I was in a constant state of turmoil. In that state, I thought peace meant finding the answer.
Luckily I did find the answer, but when I didn’t know, I found peace in little pieces.
About a year after I started my first safety net job, I got a similar job with a better company. And a year or so after that, I landed a small promotion, which gave me the chance to do more writing and less typing.
Aside from the regular good feelings that come with being promoted, I honestly felt that my arms were saved thanks to the person who chose me to be on the new team.
By that time, even with the medication I was taking, my wrists and forearms and shoulders and neck were so stiff and sore that I didn’t know how much longer I could keep typing almost non-stop for eight hours a day, five days a week.
That was a pretty big little piece of peace for me. Even though it brought me no closer to solving the problem of my broken body, it changed my life because it helped with the pain. And I took time daily to appreciate my new peace. If you’re a co-worker, you might have seen me do this simply by smiling.
What does peace mean to you? Do you have any little pieces of peace you’d like to share in the spirit of the holidays?