Monday, July 25, 2016

Finding Peace in a Troubled World

So, I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints…more commonly known as a Mormon.  One of the things that I have always loved about church, is that we have no paid clergy.  This means that the members of the congregation, young and old alike, give short sermons during our Sacrament Meeting, which we call talks.  I am headed back to Arizona this week, so my dad asked me to speak this past Sunday.  I loved the topic that he gave me, and I have decided to share that with you.

Finding Peace in a Troubled World.

I find this to be so appropriate a topic right now, not only for our world, but also for my life.  Peace is NOT the word that comes to mind when I think of the world.  It is not a word that comes to mind when I think of my life.  That word…would be FEAR.  I have many things going on in my life right now that are making me fearful.  Add to that the disturbing current events that flood our news feeds and news outlets each and every day, and it makes me wish I hadn’t left my bottle of Xanax in Arizona this summer!  :)  (Cue: binge ice cream eating this summer!)

Now, our Savior, Jesus Christ, does not want us to live in fear.  I think so many times, we (not just members of our church, but also all of Christianity), get so caught up in everything we are NOT supposed to do.  We get so caught up in avoiding sin and “helping” others avoid sin (insert eyeroll), that we forget why we are here on this earth.  2 Nephi 2:25 reads, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”  We are here to have joy! 

But, what about Abraham 3:25, which says, “And we will prove them now herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”  Okay, so it’s actually a darn test, and we are supposed to keep ALL the commandments?  Every single one of them?  All the time?  


But y’all, it’s okay! Let’s go back to 2 Nephi 2 and read verse 26.  “And the Messiah cometh in the fullness of times, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.”  And, how about John 3:16… “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

There is absolutely HOPE for PEACE in this troubled world, but only through our Savior Jesus Christ…and that goes for us individually and collectively.  However, if we want peace in our world, we must first start with peace in ourselves, and THAT begins with how we view others.

I have read a book called The Anatomy of Peace, several times, and I always find new nuggets of wisdom.  This last time around, this quote stuck with me the most.  It reads, “So, if we are going to find lasting solutions to difficult conflicts or external wars we find ourselves in, we first need to find our way out of the internal wars that are poisoning our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes toward others.  If we can’t put an end to the violence within us, there is no hope for putting an end to the violence without.” 

With everything going on in our country and the world today, it is so easy to fear.  I am afraid.  Most days, I really am.  However, let’s see what Howard W. Hunter said about fear. 

Fear . . . is a principal weapon in the arsenal that Satan uses to make mankind unhappy. He who fears loses strength for the combat of life in the fight against evil. Therefore, the power of the evil one always tries to generate fear in human hearts. . . .
. . . A timid, fearing people cannot do their work well, and they cannot do God’s work at all. Latter-day Saints have a divinely assigned mission to fulfill that simply must not be dissipated in fear and anxiety.  (Howard W. Hunter, “An Anchor to the Souls of Men,” BYU devotional address, 7 February 1993.)

Satan wants us to give in to our fears, but our Heavenly Father wants us to hold on to hope.  2 Timothy 1:7 reads, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  If we make a point to not be susceptible to all the fear mongering going on in the world right now, we truly will find peace in learning to love others.  But, we must learn to love them as Christ would love them...the actual Jesus Christ.  You know, the one who dined with sinners, healed people on the Sabbath, and did not condemn the harlot?  Yeah…that guy.  He put no conditions on his love, and we should not either. 

I read a post by Glennon Doyle Melton on Facebook the other day about how many times the words “fear not” (or some variation of them) and “love” are repeated in the Bible.  I did a bit of research on dear old Google, and found that this phrase is written 103times in the Bible.  (In my original talk on Sunday I said 365, because that’s that the interwebs had first told me…upon further research while editing this for my blog, I found the correction.)  Additionally, it is written 669times in the Book of Mormon!  In our ancient scriptures it tells us almost 1,000 times to “FEAR NOT.”  And, let’s also take into account how many times our modern day prophets and apostles have admonished us to “FEAR NOT.” 

So, I then got on a kick of looking at how many times certain words, and their antonyms are found in the scriptures.  Y’all.  The Gospel of Christ is one of hope and love.  Positive words are used overwhelmingly more times in the scriptures than negative words.  During your personal scripture study, focus on that positivity!  I have compiled these words into a list of what I will call “antidotes for Fear.”

***Disclaimer, many of these numbers include variations on the words.  For example, for the word LOVE, I also added in variations like loveth, lovest, etc.  I also did the math super quick in my head while my baby was napping, and I’m not about to go through all the data again!  lol  I have listed the sites I used at the end of the post***

I started with Faith and Doubt.   Faith is mentioned 663 times, while Doubt is mentioned 39 times.  Sister Jean A. Stevens, first counselor in the Primary General Presidency, said, “As we develop greater faith and trust in the Lord, we can access his power to deliver us.”

I, then, went on to Forgive and Grudge.  Forgive is mentioned 139 times, and Grudge is mentioned just 6!  We are commanded to forgive others, not for their sake, but for our own.  Deiter F Uchtorf said, “There is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.”  Be like Elsa, and Let it Go!  J

The next pair of words is Grace and Justice.  Grace is mentioned 201 times, and Justice 98.  As members of the church, we focus a lot on “Faith without works is dead”…on becoming perfect.  Let us not forget that we cannot be perfected in this life, and we cannot become perfect in the next without the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.  Should we keep the commandments and live a righteous life?  Absolutely.  Is it okay to make mistakes?  Absolutely, because we are saved by Grace.  Quentin L Cook said, “We are liberated by the love, Grace, and the atoning sacrifice of the Savior.”

Happiness or Joy is mentioned 413 times, while sadness or sorrow is only mentioned 201 times.  Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something each day to embrace and cherish.  There is something each day that can bring us joy if only we will see if and appreciate it.”

Light is mentioned 371 times, while darkness has 153 mentions.  Vern P. Stanfill said, “There is no darkness so dense, so menacing, so difficult that it cannot be overcome by Light.”  Remember, Christ is the Light of the World.

Now, the last two I want to focus on, are Peace and War, and Love and Hate, as I think they are the most intertwined.  The more we love others, the more peace we will feel in our hearts, and THAT will overflow into the world. 

Peace is mentioned 572 times, and War is mentioned 288.  Love is written 385 times, while Hate, only 220.  Hatred of others is what robs us of peace.  Hatred comes in many different forms as well.  It can be overt or well concealed.  However, hatred is what turns our hearts to war against our fellow man.  Fellow.  Man.  Actual human beings.  Obviously, the antidote to hate, is alwayslove. 

A friend (I’m lookin at you Brenna!) recently shared with me a passage of scripture from the Book of Mormon that has changed her perspective on her fear of those that are different than her.  It is found in Mosiah 9:1.  It reads, “I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers’ first inheritance, and having been sent as a spy among the Lamanites that I might spy out their forces, that our army might come upon them and destroy them—but when I saw that which was good among them, I was desirous that they should not be destroyed.(emphasis added)   Zeniff saw the GOOD in a people that he had always been told were bad, and his heart turned to peace towards them. 

My friend also shared with me a quote whose authorship is unknown. “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly behooves any of us, to talk about the rest of us.” 

There is so much good, and so much beauty in every single person on this planet…but we must see them through our Father’s eyes.  We can do that through sincere prayer and earnest pleading with our father.  CS Lewis said, “I pray because I can’t help myself.  I pray because I’m helpless.  I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping.  It doesn’t change God – it changes me.”

I mentioned to my dad that in the wake of all the recent tragedies that I would never take my kids anywhere again for any sort of celebration…. I now realize that that is the wrong mindset.  If tragedy were to come upon us, I would want it to be because we are living life to it’s fullest and enjoying all of the beautiful people and things that our Heavenly Father created….HE CREATED US ALL…. Muslim, Jew, Christian… White, Black, Hispanic…Criminal, and Cop.  We are ALL brothers and sisters.  We must STOP being afraid of each other and START loving each other.  We must start loving our Savior and HIS atonement and HIS gracemore than we love HIS justice for others.  Thomas S. Monson saidto never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.  THAT is how we will find peace in this troubled world.  We must hold on to faith, forgiveness, grace, happiness, joy, light, peace and LOVE.  We find that through immersing ourselves in the scriptures, going to the temple, and fellowshipping with our neighbors…neighbors both similar to us and different from us. 

Lovewill always blot out hate just as Light will always dispel darkness.