#ldsconf Odyssey: Peace

Apr 30, 2016 by

Editor’s note: This post is part of a collaborative effort of Mormon bloggers who are reading and writing about General Conference talks. We call it the General Conference Odyssey. This article at Meridian Magazine explains more about the Odyssey, and includes some thoughts from those of us participating in this project.

One of the things I appreciate about being a part of this effort is to read the words of my fellow brothers and sisters. Their perspectives and experience enrich my experience engaging the words of the prophets. Of course, we don’t want our posts to replace the words of the prophets, but we hope perhaps this project will inspire you in some way, as it is inspiring us, to engage their words with more deliberateness and faith.

The other posts from this week’s reading, which focused on the Sunday Afternoon Session of the April 1972 General Conference, are at the bottom of the post.

(I was having login troubles when it was time to post for this week’s General Conference Odyssey, and even though it’s almost time for next week’s post, I still wanted to share some thoughts, mostly because I need them.)

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In the April 1972 conference, there was a lot said about the priesthood. I love this topic. I love learning and pondering about the priesthood (and the relationship of women to priesthood), for example.

But the past several months, I’ve felt more drawn to talks that can guide me in my personal relationship with God, and in my spiritual health. So it’s not surprising that the talk that caught my attention from this week’s reading was Eldred G. Smith’s talk entitled “Peace.”

In that upper room in Jerusalem where the Last Supper was held, Jesus gave his disciples considerable instructions. Among many things he taught them, he said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.)

Again he said: “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.)

Humans crave peace. It’s been a topic in cultural and political discourse throughout the ages. And yet, as Elder Smith points out, peace is often elusive — at least in the world around us.

I’ve been noticing lately how easily agitated I can be by news stories or social media chatter or things outside of my control that my brain latches onto. I too often want to engage in topics and conversations that, in reality, sap me of energy. As Nephi would say, there is much that can “destroy my peace and afflict my soul.”

I believe in being informed and engaged in the world around me. But there’s a fine line within myself that I’m trying to learn to discern  — that place where I go from proactively choosing to be informed and appropriately engaged to being reactively distracted, sucked in, or even emotionally and mentally hijacked.

I also find that sometimes I do exactly as Elder Smith describes. Sometimes I expect the world around me and other people to make my life peaceful.

How is it that we have not discovered the secret of peace when we have been looking for it all through the ages? I’ll tell you. We are looking for someone to create it for us—to bring it to us. Edna St. Vincent Millay said: “There is no peace on earth today, save the peace in the heart at home with God. … No man can be at peace with his neighbor who is not at peace with himself. …” (“Conversations at Midnight,” Collected Poems, Harper & Row, Copyright 1937 and 1964.)

Elder Smith lists various things that can help foster peace, or hinder it. Rather than repeat his list, I will just invite you to join me in considering a list of your own, things that bring peace to you vs. things that “destroy your peace” or “afflict your soul.”

We all ache for a world and for relationships that are founded in peace. There is only one way to truly live in peace. It is to have our lives based in the principles that the Prince of Peace lived and taught. To have Him as the center of our minds and hearts and lives.

If each person would have peace within his soul, then there would be peace in the family. If there is peace in each family, then there is peace in the nation. If there is peace in the nations, there is peace in the world.

Let us not just sing, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me,” but let us mean it. Make it my goal—your goal.

When the Savior comes again—and he will come—he will bring peace only as we will accept and follow his teachings of service to others and eliminate enmity and unrighteousness. [And, I believe, as we let Him help us become more service-oriented and loving.]

Here’s a song that is helping me recenter when I’m feeling agitated or stressed. I like to also remind myself that God’s will is for me to feel His love and peace. Turning my thoughts to Christ and taking a deep breath can help me hear His Spirit and feel His guidance more in my life.

Just breathe.

All of the posts from this week’s #ldsconf Odyssey are below:

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