Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ways to Obtain Peace

Do you ever feel like life is hard? Do you feel overwhelmed with balancing life? We have so many responsibilities that pull us in varying ways. I was feeling particularly overwhelmed back in January with life when a friend messaged me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to go to the temple with her the next day. My gut reaction was no but as I paused to think about it I was like why not. So I said yes! I was so glad I did! As I sat in the temple pondering life and trying to take in as much of the peace we can receive at the temple I felt a very strong impression that I just needed to put the Lord first and that everything else would fall into place or off my plate. Feeling renewed I came home and I decided on rededicating myself to daily scripture study by reading all of the conference talks as I discussed here the other day.
The talk I started with was perfect for me another tender mercy from God. I read Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk “Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority”. Elder Scott is a powerful speaker. I feel his love emanate from him as he talks. He is a serious speaker but he does it with love and concern for our wellbeing. His talk opens with the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and how they knew no pain or difficulties. “Because they had never experienced hard times, they did not know they could be happy. They had never felt turmoil, so they could not feel peace.” We discussed this principle in Relief Society at church a few weeks back about how we actually need to deal with our emotions and process all of our feelings to be able to feel the full range of emotions God has given us. While dealing with the pains of this life at times are difficult and overwhelming we can truly come to know and understand real joy and happiness. Thankfully we are not left alone in this world to suffer through our pains. Heavenly Father “prepared a way through the life of His perfectly obedient Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, for His Atonement to overcome every difficulty that we may experience in mortality.” Every difficulty! Not some of them but every difficulty we face in this life, we can overcome it through over Savior’s atonement. I have personally felt this in my life with both large and small injustices of life. I would not be the person I am today without the healing power of the atonement.
Elder Scott continues on “that our purpose in coming here {here being earth} is to be tested, tried, and stretched.” He reminds us of four tools Heavenly Father has given us to help us navigate our time on this earth to help us to be able to find the peace that we need to be able to continue forward in faith. Do you know what the first tool is? Prayer! Elder Scott advises us to “Choose to converse with your Father in Heaven often. Make time every day to share your thoughts and feelings with Him. Tell Him everything that concerns you. He is interested in the most important as well as the most mundane facets of your life.” If you ever feel like you are alone or that no one wants to listen to you, go to your Father in Heaven. There is nothing too small that He doesn’t long to hear about. He is all knowing and can help guide, direct and teach us. It is easy (I know) to get lazy in our prayers. But Elder Scott tells us that one of the blessings of daily prayer is, “your heart will begin to fill with peace, buoyant peace. That peace will focus an eternal light on your struggles. It will help you to manage those challenges from an eternal perspective.” We all can use help in our daily struggles and the Lord is willing to help us if we just turn to Him and constantly reach out to Him. Elder Scott also calls out the importance of daily prayer to safeguard our children before they go out into the world each day.
The second tool is scripture study. I like this quote from Elder Scott, “We talk to God through prayer. He most often communicates back to us through His written word. To know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures, and ponder them.” Have you ever experienced this? It’s a pretty amazing thing how while I am studying my scriptures an answer to a prayer comes to my mind and often it is not related to what I am specifically reading. It is a blessing from doing what God asks us to do and putting ourselves in a place spiritually where God can teach us and bless us. I mentioned earlier that Elder Scott is a serious speaker, he is very direct and does not beat around the bush. In regards to finding time to study the scriptures each day he says, “Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!” That is very direct counsel from an Apostle of the Lord. Notice again though he doesn’t tell us how much time we need to spend studying the scriptures that is up to us and what we feel we can do each day. He promises us though that as we take time each day to study the scriptures, “…peace will prevail in your life. That peace won’t come from the outside world. It will come from within your home, from within your family, from within your own heart. It will be a gift of the Spirit. It will radiate out from you to influence others in the world around you. You will be doing something very significant to add to the cumulative peace in the world.” I want that peace in my home and in my life!
The third tool, and I struggle the most with this one, is having regular family home evening. I know it’s important and I want to do it. I just struggle to execute it. If you have any suggestions for doing family home evening I would love to hear them. Elder Scott’s counsel is to make it a priority and do it regularly. He shares of Sister Linda K. Reeves testimony of the importance of family home evening along with scripture study and prayer. “I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes.” Sister Reeves is a very wise woman. I strongly urge you to earn your own testimony of these three crucial habits.” Elder Scott urges us to follow after her example and gain a testimony of the first three steps so far. I shared this in church today that I love how the leaders of our church don’t expect us to just blindly obey they want us to gain our own testimonies of the truths they share. We can come to know for ourselves if these tools will bless us. How? The best way is to put them to the test and see what fruits come from our labors.
The fourth and last tool Elder Scott shares is temple attendance. He counsels “If you don’t have a temple recommend, qualify to get one. When you have a recommend, use it often. Schedule a regular time to be in the temple. Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from being there.” I am trying to be better at my own personal temple attendance this year. I am working to find what my regular attendance can be and do it. As we attend the temple Elder Scott says, “ are in the temple, listen to the words of the ordinances, ponder them, pray about them, and seek to understand their meaning. The temple is one of the best places to come to understand the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Seek Him there.” Christ’s spirit is very strong in the temple. He is the Prince of Peace so as we regularly go we shall receive more peace in our lives.
Now if we do all these things (prayer, scripture study, family home evening and regular temple attendance) does it mean life will be free from all challenges? No! We are here to be tested and tried and to gain experiences and show to Heavenly Father that we will keep the commandments He has given us and the covenants we make with Him. So life will not be challenge free but if we use these tools we will be blessed with more peace of mind and peace to our heart to be able to face the challenges that come our way. I know this to be true. I am so grateful for my Savior and His willingness to atone for my sins, pains and sorrows. I felt His peace in January as His spirit told me to put Him first and everything will fall into place. I am continuing to strive to do just that as it is a process but I know it will get easier as I try to follow my Savior’s example and turn to Him for peace.