A couple of years ago a bumper sticker caught me off guard. I am almost too embarrassed to share with you how dumb I was, and how slow to understand the pessimism of its message. It said this: "Visualize Whirrled Peas". For a brief moment, I tried to take its suggestion literally. Quickly I jumped out of linear thinking mode and realized its subtle message, that the yearning for World Peace is hopeless and it is an idea whose time will never come, that it is fruitless to even consider.
I was actually a little offended by its hopelessness. I know that our world faces dire circumstances. I know the outlook is bleak, and frightening, and seemingly futile. But I have been taught that if we fail to have hope we indeed have nothing.
I often feel quite helpless regarding my role in the pursuit of change in the world. I have heard it all about the power of one person's vote; our need to get involved; the danger of passivity. And I do agree that we can't sit at home hoping someone else will stand up and make some noise. But that doesn't seem to be what calls to me. What does call to me is making the effort toward peace in my family, in my children's lives, and in my own heart.
A modern-day Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin writes this about personal peace:
"The value of peace within our hearts cannot be measured. When we are at peace, we can be free of worry and fear, knowing that with the Lord’s help, we can do all that is expected or required of us. We can approach every day, every task, and every challenge with assurance and confidence in the outcome."
This is the kind of peace that I can visualize. Even though at times this may seem as hopeless as "World Peace", I know this is attainable and is a principle of truth.
Elder Wirthlin continues:
"Despite dismal conditions in the world and the personal challenges that come into every life, peace within can be a reality. We can be calm and serene regardless of the swirling turmoil all about us."
That is my goal, to be calm and serene amidst the chaos that surrounds me. Am I always successful? Sadly, no. But I understand the source of peace and I try to tap into it daily.
I love the imagery of the Savior calming the tempests. I own a beautiful painting that hangs in my living room. It is one of the many that have been created to capture this remarkable miracle. We all look at these types of artwork, seeing beyond the physical representations. Rarely do we find ourselves on a boat in the middle of a storm, being tossed about and fearing for our lives. Often, however, I think we all feel beaten by the storms of life, the daily tempests that pound us against the rocks. And just as the Savior calms the waters in the paintings, He puts forth His hand with the same confidence, power, and infinite love to calm our troubled spirits.
"The phrase “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39), that the Savior uttered when he calmed the storm-tossed sea, can have the same calming influence upon us when we are buffeted by life’s storms."
This powerful directive goes hand in hand with a related one found in Psalms 46:10: "Be still, and know that I am God". Sometimes the storm is within us. Sometimes our anxiety, anguish, and fear create internal turmoil that threatens our peace. When the Savior admonishes "Be Still", perhaps He is not calming the outward influences like the wind and the waves or the mean people or the money problems. I hope we recognize that sometimes the only one we can calm is ourselves. It would be nice if we could make everyone else do what we want them to do so that our lives can be full of peace. Not. going. to happen.
Thanks for letting me share some of my thoughts. I am not trying to calm the storms that rage around me. I am working on the ones I have most control over. Mine.