Grace Bennett (a young Melbourne spiritual seeker) tried everything to find peace and happiness, yet it eluded her. Though growing up anti-religious, she decided to see what church might offer. A beautiful story of a woman who googled churches in her area and found more than she ever expected.
This conversation was recorded in partnership with Darebin Presbyterian Church.
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Bigger questions asked in the conversation
Today we’re talking with Grace Bennett about finding peace. So in today’s smaller questions, I thought we’d test you on how much you know about “finding peace in the world”.
Grace’s spiritual quest - non-religious background
Now Grace, finding peace is a key part to your story. So why don’t you share your story - why not start at the beginning? What was life like growing up?
Did you have any religious education?
Did you ever go to church at all?
DId you ever think about God or any ‘bigger questions’?
What did you think about the church or religions at this point?
Grace’s spiritual quest - The quest begins
Then when you were in year 10 something happened which began a quest for you. What happened?
You studied philosophy in Year 10? What kind of school did you go to? In year 10 at my high school our English teacher made us play Perfect Match - philosophy was a long way from our curriculum.
How did you react to studying philosophy?
The question of the meaning of life is a pretty big one. Your philosophical journey lasted longer than the philosophy classes though? What options did you consider?
But why couldn’t you just create your own meaning?
What were you looking for?
Grace’s spiritual quest - first visit going to church
Now your spiritual quest took you in a fairly surprising direction. What did you do?
But why church? That wasn’t any of the options given by the Huffington Post to find peace of mind and from your background you thought that religion was a tool for causing violence and oppression - atheist Madeline Murray O’Hair called religion ‘anti-peace’, so how did you think you could find peace at church?
What about other places to find peace? Did you go searching on mountaintops? Meditation? Remote islands? Long hikes?
So what was that experience like of that first church service? Had you ever been to a church service before?
What were you expecting?
So was it what you expected?
So well done for taking a plunge into the unknown. When you left church that day and you were travelling home. What were you thinking?
Grace’s spiritual quest - engaging the Bible
You came back to church and what made you come back?
Then you started looking at the Bible. What did you expect when you read the Bible?
What did you make of it?
Did reading the Bible surprise you? What surprised you?
Was it hard to try to retain an open mind throughout your quest? Or were you supercritical?
How were your family throughout this process - were they thinking you’d been brainwashed or becoming some religious nut?
What was it about Jesus that attracted you to him?
Grace’s spiritual quest - accepting Jesus
So you decided to make a decision - was that hard?
On Thursday 12th April you prayed - was that a strange or difficult experience?
What did you pray?
There is a passage in the Bible, written by the apostle Paul in the New Testament book of Philippians which talks about peace and prayer and he writes in Chapter 4 and verses 6 and 7,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
How do you resonate with this passage?
This passage talks about the ‘peace of God which transcends all understanding’, what do you think this is? Is this what you were searching for?
How does Jesus bring peace?
This passage encourages people to not be anxious, but to prayer and the peace of God will help. How has this been true for you?
So how has this peace of God - changed your life?
Brad Pitt claimed to become more unreligious and said, ‘There’s peace in understanding that I have one life here and now, and I’m responsible’. Why couldn’t this philosophy satisfy you?
What advice would you give to any spiritual seeker, or someone struggling to find peace in their lives?
The Big Question
So Grace, where can I find peace?