Learning to be at Peace

I work in an extremely stressful environment. A dispatch center is full of chaos and each call could be a matter of life and death. We handle all calls for emergency services; Fire, law, and EMS. And we dispatch for the City, small towns, Sheriff’s Office, city fire, and EMS (county fire has someone sitting in the dispatch center as well, and we have to transfer some calls over to the Highway Patrol).

It’s a fast paced, balls-to-the-walls environment at times. It’s loud with the phones ringing, people shouting out information, and (sometimes) people yelling for assistance.

I work with some strong individuals, people with powerful personalities. Where I am comfortable being the unknown face behind the scenes, they are more outspoken, louder, and sometimes overpowering. Part of it is that some of them have been there for years. They are used to the stress of 12 hour shifts, multiple calls holding, and officers who are extra vigilant with their excessive traffic stops.

There are times where I struggle. When I feel overwhelmed. Where it seems like I am just trying to keep my head above water.

But even in those moments, I know I am at peace. I’ve learned to manage my emotions. To keep a level head, to know that even though I may feel off balance, I am still present. I’ve been told that I seem at peace, calm, almost meditative at times. I don’t get angry at calls that come in. I try not to raise my voice at my coworkers. Even when I really want to call them out on their stupidity.

It took me years before I discovered how to be at peace with myself.

Many years ago, a friend of mine was reading a memoir from a monk in a monastery who had devoted his life to prayer. In one conversation, my friend shared that the monk lived in a constant state of prayer. He prayed at all times, especially while he worked. He lived his life and devoted everything he did, big or small to the glory of God. I found it interesting that his biggest struggle was devoted prayer time at the monastery, when all the monks set aside a time of day to devote themselves to prayer.

This monk questioned why he needed to devote a certain time of the day to prayer when every action he made in his life was a constant prayer to God.

Ever since hearing about this monk, I have tried to follow his example of prayer.

This has gotten me through some rough times. It has helped me to manage the stress of disaster response with AmeriCorps, long days on the trail doing conservation work, and the chaos of the dispatch office.

I meditate. I pray. I do breathing exercises. I make sure I recenter myself and constantly rediscover why I do what I do.

And through all this, I am at peace with myself. At peace with the chaos that surrounds me. And at peace with my relationship with God.

My faith is the only reason why I haven’t collapsed under the stress of this life. And prayer is the only strength that has gotten me through some of the darkest nights. When I learned to be still before my God, El Roi, the God who sees me, I learned that everything I do is a form of worship, a praise to the Father above.

I won’t say that the stress ever goes away. Neither does the fear. The worry. The constant questions if I’ve done everything that I can. All of that still remains. They will never go away, but I’ve made my peace with them.


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