For most of my life, I have been seeking internal peace. The Christian scriptures call it “the peace that passeth understanding.” Growing up in the church, I was taught that it was something one could attain if they were diligent. But no matter how hard I prayed or worked, or how diligently I followed the rules, true inner peace was never to be found.
Two years ago, on the streets of Berlin, an event took place that was so heinous it jarred my innermost being. In one fell swoop, everything I had ever believed about God, religion, and the life I had been leading was jerked away. A fire and strength I had never known welled up inside of me, propelling me to pack my bags and take the next flight off the continent. Thus began my journey into a world that was truly foreign to me.
I finally realized that the only path to peace is to discover truth. Lies and falsehoods can temporarily soothe a mind that is desperate for relief from an antagonist, but when you have truth, you can settle the heart and mind on what is real.
So, over the past 24 months, I have sought the truth about myself, about God, and about the world around me. This led me back to Berlin to face the demons I had tried to leave behind.
I waited until the third day of my trip because I feared the emotional reckoning that would take place as I walked down the street that had become even darker in my mind than it was during those midnight hours two years ago.
I dilly-dallied along the way, stopping in this shop and that, trying to delay the one thing I had come to Germany to do.
Finally, I was there on the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden. Christmas lights made the street brighter than I recalled. As I allowed memories to wash over me, the hundreds of people swiftly making their way to the nearby train station faded away. I stood stationary in the moving crowd, their woolen coats brushing against me on every side. There was something there for me, and I needed to wait until it came into view.
I realized I was standing in front of a store that had not been there two years prior. I gazed at the window display, and these words came into view:
If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame
I had not realized Leonard Cohen released a new album so close to his recent death. I mulled over the words. They sounded antagonistic toward God in a way that I could identify with, but I wanted to be certain. Pulling my phone from my pocket, I leaned against the store window and Googled the meaning behind the lyrics.
What I learned led me to the next step in my journey. Feeling lighthearted and strong, I walked away from the street that had loomed so dark in my mind these past two years. For most of my life, I thought I had the answers, but didn’t know how to apply them. Now, I see that true answers lead to more questions, and that seeking a deeper understanding promotes peace.
Ginger Lumpkin is an author, motivational speaker, and mother of five. Follow her on Facebook, find her on the web: www.gingeretta.com, or contact ginger.columnist@gmail.com.