For too long …

The problem:

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been feeling a little off for a while – last term felt really long and a bit brutal.

A lot of the people I’ve spoken to recently feel the same way. Maybe you are waking up in the middle of the night with your heart racing, you might wake up and worry about things, or you might be afraid …. You aren’t alone.

We know the demand for counselling and psychologists is only increasing…

According to some stats in Forbes Health:

Worldwide: [Since 2020], the number of anxiety and depressive disorders grew. 

Depressive symptoms grew from a base of about 193 million people worldwide to 246 million, which is about 28%.

Anxiety disorders grew from about 298 million people affected to 374 million, which is about a 25% increase.

Now because I’m a person who reflects a bit (overthinks) I’ve been attempting to find the source of my decline in mood. While I like to look inside to find the source of things, problems etc, there are professionals who can help with that, and I highly recommend that you seek them out if you are feeling at all like I’ve discussed. In fact, I utterly recommend it. – If you feel you are one of the 246 million people or the 374 million people suffering at the moment one of the crucial things you need to do is seek professional help.

Now I am a Christian, which I hope doesn’t come as news to you, and so after too much introspection once again I remember that I should also seek answers from God. And so, one morning on the way to school when I was having a bit of a read of my Bible app (I was not driving at the time) I came across this verse – which really stood out to me. I was doing a bit of a word search for peace.

Now, all the familiar ones were there and I skimmed over them and then there was this one … and instantly I felt that it addressed where some of us might just find ourselves right now.

A cause:

Now you know what I’m going to do right – break this up … into a few key terms.

Soul can be defined as: your mind, your emotions, and your will, the spiritual part of humans. The essence of who you are, the part of you that lives on after your body passes away, the part of you that will remain, the part of you that loves, the part of you that thinks and feels ….

Dwelling can be defined as where you live or where you are a resident.

And I think we all know what the difference between hate and peace is.

To put it simply  – hate is something that is destructive, and peace is restorative.

Who you are sitting with, where you and your thoughts, your mind and your soul dwell will either contribute to your peace or it will rob you of your peace.

Tim Keller said: Our character is mainly shaped by our primary social community – the people with whom we eat, play, converse, and study.

I think we can paraphrase this to relate also to the soul, and certainly to your peace: Your family, your friends, your church community, your sporting community, your school community, your online community, your social media community, and your gaming community, will shape or steal your peace.

In case you aren’t sure what it is that steals your peace – it’s probably most likely to be connected to the thing that wakes you up at night. The thing that keeps you from rest. The thing that keeps you from peace.

I’ve spent too many hours over the years on social media, reading comments made by strangers and sometimes friends that steal my peace.

Too long my soul has had its dwelling on social media with those who want to argue, name call and bully.

In the past, I have enjoyed more than my share of good ol’ true crime, unsolved mysteries, inside the mind of a serial killer docos …

Too long my soul has been dwelling with serial killers on Netflix ….

I want you to think about what you would put here to fill in your own statement.

Too long my soul has been dwelling with …

And it honestly might be that you are living in parts of the internet you don’t want: your family, your friends, your church community, your sporting community, your school community, your online community, your social media community, your gaming community, to find out about.

The solution:

To put yourself in the presence of those who love peace or better still those who bring peace. You know who they are.

I think that is a great start but there is a longer-term solution.

The first step and most important step is of course – a relationship with Jesus – the source of our peace, which begins with:

  1. An acknowledgment of who He is: The only sinless, and the only perfect, person ever to have lived. The most peace-filled and peaceful person to walk the earth.
  2. An acknowledgement of who you are: a sinner in the sight of God – someone who is not able to able to create or bring about your own peace.
  3. An acknowledgement that His perfection and your sin means that belief in Him and His death is the only way to bridge the gap between you and God which will bring you present and eternal peace.

Then there’s another step you can take:

Now some of you here have taken that first step – and yet you find yourself still in the position that I was saying I’m finding myself in at the moment from time to time. That weighed down, tired, fearful, sad, worried spot, that waking up in the middle of the night with your heart-pounding spot. Maybe you know that Jesus, the Prince of Peace is with you, but you still wake up in the night … the solution is found in Philippians 4: 8,9

Maybe it’s time to stop doing some of those things that you know steal your peace. For example, I’ve stopped watching serial killer docos … for now. Because I’ve run them through the filter – are they true – well yes … but from that point on they fail, they are not honourable, or right, they are not pure or wholesome, they are not lovely, they do not bring peace and they are not admirable.

And so maybe from time to time, it’s not a bad idea to do a purge of your socials.

I’ve started to alter my online algorithms a bit by skipping some reels and watching others. At the moment to be honest what I’m being fed is people slipping on the ice, cats doing something funny, inspirational quotes and a couple of comedians. You’ll notice I’m not saying stop gaming, delete your socials, and throw your phone in the pool. Just be mindful of where your soul is dwelling.

Now for those of you in the audience: who’ve skipped the Jesus step, because you aren’t interested in the Jesus stuff. We are truly sorry. Because as long as you choose a life without the Jesus stuff it will be a life in which you will never truly experience peace. 

And so Christians, if you like me, are from time to time awake at night – I want to challenge you to look more closely at where your soul has been dwelling that day, and run your thoughts through this filter. This filter works in two ways.  Simply looking at it helps you to do exactly what it tells you to, think the verse through and you’ll find yourself focused on what is true. Then you get to focus more on being a person who dwells in peace and who brings peace to others.


This was originally written as a chapel talk for senior school students.

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