Saturday, February 29, 2020

Finding Peace



What is peace? Is it happiness and contentment, or something altogether different? When we feel it, we know it, but can we create it? Or is peace something that happens because we are in the right place at the right time?

Sometimes, we think of peace as the opposite of war. When we are at war, we are fighting against someone or something. Being at peace in this case is the absence of fighting. It is a resolution of our differences to the point that we can live side by side without fearing for our lives.

We may think of peace as quietness, like walking along a beach in the cool of the evening, listening to the sound of the waves as they break onto the shore. It may mean enjoying the stillness of the morning when there is no wind and we hear the chirping sounds of the birds as they welcome the sun to a brand new day.

In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, stress is high, funds are low, and we frequently feel harried and frustrated. In these moments, peace may be the absence of things to do, a moment of relaxation after a busy day, or a hug from someone we love that calms our jangled nerves.

Peace can simply be stillness within the soul, a sense of calm that comes from knowing that all will be well, no matter what happens. This kind of peace comes only from a witness that we are not alone in this world, and that there is a power and influence beyond our own at work in our behalf.

Christ tells us that the only way to have peace is in and through him. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, KJV).

In order for us to have peace, we, too, have to look beyond this world. As we fill our minds and hearts with the words of our Savior, and seek for his Spirit to be with us, it does not matter what happens around us, we will be at peace.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Be Still and Know



Life has a way of knocking us in the head sometimes. We think that we know where we are going and what we are doing, and then something happens that leaves us stunned. We wonder who we really are and what our purpose is in this life.

We stop for a moment and think about what we are doing. We see the people, things, and activities with which we have filled our lives and ask some important questions. Am I truly happy? Is there meaning and purpose in the choices I have made? Am I doing those things that God would have me do?

In her book The Fear Cure, Lissa Rankin, MD, speaks of the space between thoughts, and how our ability to capture and capitalize upon this space allows us to experience peace and happiness in our daily lives, as well as overcome the negative emotions that threaten to consume us.

During a restless night prior to a musical performance, I remembered this principle. Slowing down my thoughts just enough to find this empty space, I suddenly found myself basking in the warmth of God’s unconditional love. It was as if the clouds had parted and warm sunshine was streaming into my consciousness. My anxious heart calmed and I was able to rest peacefully.

Now, in the wake of a family illness, I seek that same reassurance that I am loved, and that there is meaning and purpose in my life. I remember the scripture in Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” For a brief moment, I once again enter that blessed space that has become my salvation, that stillness of mind and heart that allows me to experience God’s unconditional love.

This is the love that is home. We knew it before we came here. We are God’s children and lived with him before this life. It is the love that carries us through the storms and tempests that threaten to destroy us. It is the love that when we leave here, will rise with us into the great beyond as we return home once again to his arms, fresh and new from the rebirth that we call death.

There, time will cease to carry its poignant reminders of our insignificance and nothingness. Our petty worries and the aches and pains of this life will be no more, and what we glimpse in those quiet moments of stillness will be ours, to have and hold, forever!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Finding the Motivation



“I don’t care. I just don’t want to do it, that’s all.” There, I said it, the forbidden words that I have been thinking. Now what? Does that mean that I don’t have to do it? Am I off the hook? Is that all there is to it, just saying “I don’t want to?”

There are many things in life that are difficult. Jim Rohn, success philosopher, tells us that one of the most important aspects of being human is the ability to “make ourselves” do what needs to be done. How does this happen? He says that when we find enough reasons, then our wants and desires change.

Motivation is all about finding the reasons. Dallin H. Oaks indicates that there are basically six reasons for us to act. He lists the following: 1) hope of earthly reward, 2) desire for good companionship, 3) fear of punishment, 4) sense of duty, 5) hope of eternal reward, and 6) love.
Although Oaks lists these as reasons for service, they have a lot to do with our lives in general. 

Reasons motivate action. If we have enough reasons, we will find a way to make happen what we want. If one of our family members is faced with certain death, we find a way to prolong their life because we want them to remain with us as long as possible.

How does this apply to everyday? Our reasons come from our past experience. When we suffer the consequences of inaction, we are more highly motivated to action. In other words, “no pain, no gain!” We don’t decide to set an alarm and get up on time until the boss cuts our pay or fires us for being late to work!

Desiring change is usually the catalyst for increased motivation. If things are going well in life, we have little incentive to change. The Lord tells us in Alma 32:13-16* that being “compelled to be humble” is   good, but it is even better to change willingly “without stubbornness of heart.”

Motivation is increased when we find out that there is a better way, and we want it for ourselves. There it is, that “want” word again! Our motivation changes when we say, “I want to” rather than “I need to,“ “I have to,” or “I should.” Changing because we are compelled to do so rarely brings lasting benefits; rather a lifetime of change comes when it is what we want for ourselves and our loved ones.

The highest motivation of the human heart is to act out of love. When we love God and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31, KJV), we find plenty of reasons. We look forward to each day with newness of life, and go forward, knowing that God will provide a way!

*Book of Mormon, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.