Monday, September 30, 2019

Embracing Peace

I spent much of my adult life striving, planning, and reaching for self-imposed goals. For many years, I tried to find my worth through my career and achievements. I was lured by the false premise that the so-called American dream must be attained in one’s lifetime for that life to be considered worthwhile. A schedule filled with busyness, activities, and frenzy shows that life is full and rewarding. Right?

I’ve come to realize there’s a difference between an accomplished life and a significant life. I’m not saying that accomplishment is a negative goal, but that a life of significance strives first to glorify God. When our accomplishments honor God they are significant.

Does our striving for significance mean we’re seeking perfection? Only Jesus lived a perfect earthly life because, while Jesus was fully human, He was also fully divine. Jesus wasn’t just a good person who did good deeds and cared about others. He was God in the flesh.

In our humanness, we are incapable of achieving perfection during our earthly lives. But peace results when we strive to obey and glorify God through our accomplishments. While achieving perfection in our lifetime is not possible, I believe peace is an achievable goal.

The formula for peace is simple in theory but not in practice: seek God’s will in all things, confess to those we have harmed and seek their forgiveness, confess our sins to God, and ask for God’s forgiveness. Though challenging, these goals are achievable. But there’s one more part to the formula, and I’m convinced it is the most challenging: forgive ourselves.

Recently, my sister and I were discussing regret. Both of us harbor regrets regarding our deceased parents. I don’t think we’re alone in this feeling. The problem with regret is that it holds the power to block peace. Regret is possibly the most difficult emotion to resolve. Usually, the people we harmed—or think we harmed—are gone from this earthly life, and we are left with if-onlys. If only I had said or done this or that. If only I hadn’t said or done this or that.

I’ve learned that, although it may be too late to resolve our if-onlys with the people we’ve harmed, it’s never too late to seek God’s forgiveness. Believers are promised that nothing can separate us from God’s love, not even regret. When we harbor regret, it’s difficult to accept that God’s forgiveness is both free and final. We keep taking back the regret and carrying it around like a teenager’s backpack filled with heavy books. Regret weighs us down, causing us to drag through our days, maybe even keeping us awake at night, until finally after the tenth time or hundredth time of shaming ourselves, we accept God’s forgiveness, forgive ourselves, and embrace the peace that God has been offering all along.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Her books are available through or

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Meaningful Work

Every September, I enjoy scrolling through the back-to-school pictures posted on Facebook. I’ve “friended” the parents of many children I taught at the Early Childhood Music School and children who participated in my choirs, some as long ago as forty years. What a joy it is to watch them grow up, go off to college, embrace careers, and raise families of their own. It’s especially heartening to see how many are still involved in music.  

When I retired from teaching and choral directing four years ago, I never dreamed I’d be returning to music education. I even embarked on a new career as an author. But I missed choral conducting, and I dearly missed working with young people. So, when the opportunity presented itself for me to teach again, I couldn’t resist. With some trepidation, I accepted the position as director of the high school chorus at Walsingham Academy, known as The Madrigals.

I wondered if I’d have enough energy to work with teenagers again. I prayed about making the right decision both for the students and for me. I worried the job might take too much time away from my husband, children and grandchildren … and my writing, of course. When I walked into the new- teacher orientation and discovered the other new teachers were young enough to be my grandchildren, I wondered if I had deluded myself into thinking I could handle the position at my age.

I needn’t have worried. After two weeks working at this superb school with delightful students, supportive parents, and dedicated colleagues, I find myself energized, motivated, and thrilled to be back in academia, doing what I love, what I was born to do. Since the position is part-time, I still have time for my family, my volunteering, and my writing. The only significant adjustment has been rising and trying to shine at 5:30 am instead of my retirement time of 7:30, but it’s not every day. In fact, the schedule fits my lifestyle perfectly.

When I visit elderly friends in assisted living facilities, they often remark that they feel useless, spending the bulk of their days in front of the television. The hours drag by as they have little more to look forward to than their daily naps, meals, and swallowing mega-doses of meds. After leading full lives of raising families, building and sustaining meaningful careers, and active volunteering, they strongly desire to continue being productive. Their minds are sharp and filled with wisdom that they long to share. Despite still having much to offer, they are often ignored, and their aged bodies fail them, resulting in frustration.

This September, I am reminded of how blessed I am by this opportunity to be productive in my senior years. I understand my time for productivity is limited, accepting that my body will eventually fail me. Every day, I thank God for the blessing of meaningful work.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Her books are available from or