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By Dani DeMello-Johnson
For Coffee Hour this past Sunday, I was asked to talk about peace. Peace for me has been a process more than just a feeling or emotion at some point in time. To truly be at peace with God, oneself and one another is not something that occurs overnight.
My experience started in middle school – 6th grade to be exact. Starting a new school gave me the opportunity to form a smaller group of friends that I was thankful for and who accepted me for who I was at the time. Then high school came about with three middle schools converging into one large new building called Bloomfield Hills High School. As our small group started to expand, so did my friends, as well as my morals on the high school experience. I started to fall off the path; changing my views on myself, my academics, and especially those who surrounded me each and every day. I began to feel like I was directing my energy in all the wrong places and was truly not at peace. There was much anxiety, frustration and even thoughts of depression at times. My group started to call me names which I thought was just their unusual way of showing their affection for one another. It took me to the end of the first semester of my junior year to realize that I desperately needed to make a change – that I needed to be at peace. I started reaching out to my family and became more involved in Christ Church Cranbrook to help me get back on the right path. When I tried to remove myself from the group, it resulted in both verbal and even physical abuse from my “so called friends”. Once I ultimately removed myself from them, I found myself leaning on God more to help guide me in the right direction. And he did just that! I formed a new friendship with a girl I had known since freshman year but for some reason we were not very close. She knew about everything that happened between me and my old group and vowed to genuinely be there for me. After a couple of weeks her friends started to grow on me and became the most positive aspect of my social life.
I finished my junior year (online) with straight A’s and more involved with my community than ever before. Most importantly, I have a newfound sense of peace. Instead of name calling from the past, I am surrounded by words of kindness and acts of love. “You are beautiful, smart, funny” and we end each group chat and hang-out session with telling each other how much we appreciate and love one another. It took a journey for me to trust in God in order to find peace with him, myself and others. And I hope this journey never ends…