Troubled Is My Heart’s Middle Name

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
— John 14:27

This invitation from Jesus is really hard for me. Troubled is my heart’s middle name, and its default setting is afraid. Receiving the peace that Christ freely offers does not come naturally to me.

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How do you not allow your heart to be troubled or afraid, especially if it wants to default to that setting?

Jesus says that he gives us his peace, but it’s not the same as what the world gives. It seems to me that his kind of peace is more than just a feeling. It’s not about finding an equilibrium or a sense of calm or avoiding conflict. The peace of Christ has a certain grit to it. It’s trusting that Christ is with me, even when it doesn’t feel like it. It’s keeping the word of God and doggedly following the movement of the Spirit, even when I don’t know where it’s going.

So, true peace comes from Christ, but a troubled heart comes from something else. Good to know. When my heart is anxious, I can remind myself that whatever that is doesn’t come from God and work against it. The thing is, difficulties in life will always come. Jesus never said he would save us from those. In fact, what he said was that we’d always have trouble and that we’d have to pick up our cross if we want to follow him. I’m not trying to be pessimistic. I’m just keeping it real. Stuff happens. It’s how I respond when it happens that matters. Do I allow my heart to revert to its default settings? Or, do I pause and reflect on what’s happening and then try to work against anxiety? Trouble in life doesn’t have to mean a troubled heart.


My default may be anxiety, but the deeper I go in the spiritual life, the more I see how God is at work in me, changing my default settings. God helps me to work against fear and despair to come to the peace of Christ. How do I work against a troubled heart? Well, prayer helps. It helps a lot. Sometimes it can even lead to a feeling of peace to accompany the deeper peace of Christ. Talking with another person helps me too. Sometimes I can’t open myself to the peace that Christ offers me in prayer, but I can receive it through someone else. We’re in this together, and giving each other peace is one of the many reasons why we need to do the spiritual life communally. When one of us can’t find peace, another person can.

So, I’m working to not let my heart be troubled or afraid. I woke up today with some worries in my heart, but that’s alright. Even if that’s my default, I don’t have to maintain that setting today. I can modify it. And God is always at work in me, rewriting the code that I can’t even decipher and changing my settings from troubled to peaceful.


  • What are your default settings?

  • What does a troubled heart feel like for you?

  • What helps you to not let your heart be troubled or afraid?

  • How do you open yourself to the peace that Christ offers you?

by Sister Leslie Keener, CDP

Sister Leslie Keener, CDP is the director of God Space, a community-building spirituality ministry in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. She’s a Sister of Divine Providence with a Masters in Ministry and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction and Retreats from Creighton University. She directs retreats, meets with people for spiritual direction, and serves as the vocation director for her community. She also serves on the Coordinating Council of Spiritual Directors International. She enjoys music, meaningful conversations, and dancing.