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Excerpt from Stress Management: Lessons From the Savior
“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). “My son, peace be unto thy soul: thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment: and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 121:7–8). As you recall from the introduction, I said I received one last principle from the Lord the night before the last day of Brigham Young University Education Week that I needed to include in the Education Week presentation. That principle was supposed to be added to the end of the presentation so that it would be the last lesson from the Savior that the students heard. That principle is peace. The same criteria apply to this book—it needs to be the last principle I present. Perhaps the most precious spiritual concept to help us minimize or manage our stress is the promise of peace from the Savior. It is the last lesson for a very significant reason. The principle of peace can sustain us through very trying times if we ask for that blessing and hold on to it when we receive it.
This prompting regarding this principle came with such love and
compassion that it touched my heart. Knowing that it needed to be the last principle I presented so that people could leave feeling peace and love from our Father in Heaven and the Savior confirmed to me that He really does want to bless our lives with peace. Our Father in Heaven wants to bless us with His peace, especially during the severely trying times.
Many people feel that peace and trials are mutually exclusive. This means we think we can only feel peace in the absence of trials, challenges, difficulties, and stress. But think about times when you don’t have major stressors surrounding you, do you automatically feel peace then? Not always. The absence of stress does not guarantee that we feel peace nor does the presence of stress require that peace is impossible to feel.
The world may be in turmoil, conflict, and confusion causing a great deal of stress to surround us, but we still can have the blessing of feeling peace. Bishop W. Christopher Waddell tells us “peace of mind, peace of conscience, and peace of heart are not determined by our ability to avoid trials, sorrow, or heartache. Despite our sincere pleas, not every storm will change course, not every infirmity will be healed... Nevertheless, we have been promised peace.”82 We can feel peace at all times—stressful or nonstressful, trials or no trials.
We are instructed in D&C 19:23 on three simple steps to receive the blessing of peace in our lives. We are told, “Learn of me and listen to my words: walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.” Three simple steps and a very powerful, much sought after promise of peace. It is important to note that in the promise of peace, the Lord is not promising a lack of trials or stress. Often people believe that the Lord isn’t blessing them with peace just because He doesn’t make the trial go away. He has told us clearly in John 16:33, “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.” Additionally, in John 14:26–27 he comforts us with these words: “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.” As the Savior promises to leave His peace with us, he further counsels us to not be troubled or afraid. All too often, we focus on the trouble and fear and chase away the peace that has been given. There is great counsel in a quote that is attributed to Joe Stowell, “When we put our problems in God’s hands, He puts His peace in our hearts.” Whatever the trial, whatever the stress, the Lord is with us and is ready to bless us with peace if we will receive it and hold onto it.
You may be wondering why I have stated, “if we will receive it” or “if we will hold on to it.” Often, the Savior indeed blesses us with peace but we don’t allow ourselves to receive it or hold on to it. We might even acknowledge that we feel peace for a moment but then we go back to thinking stressful thoughts, we go back to letting our hearts be troubled and afraid. Then the peace fades away and is replaced once again by stress. We can do the exact opposite, however. Instead of refocusing on stress and letting peace fade away, we can keep our minds focused on peace and let the stress fade away—a much wiser option.
How can we hold onto peace when we are nervous, frightened, or scared of the outcome of a medical procedure or a desperately needed job offer? As we follow the three steps mentioned earlier from the scripture D&C 19:23 to learn of Him, listen to His words, and walk in the meekness of His spirit, we can then pray for that promised peace. When we pray specifically for peace and then obtain it, we can pull that peace into our hearts, focus on gratitude that the Lord has blessed us with peace and then surround ourselves with ways to hold on tightly to that peace. Some ideas for holding on to peace: express sincere and profuse gratitude to the Lord for hearing and answering your prayer for peace, keep your mind focused on peace and refrain from thinking about the stressful event, keep a prayer in your heart, read scriptures or recite memorized scriptures in your mind, write in a journal outlining the feeling of peace and gratitude that you have, play uplifting hymns in your homes, sing hymns and uplifting songs in your minds, think of ways to bless the lives of others, ponder the atoning sacrifice of the Savior, remember that the Savior has promised us peace when we “come unto Him” (Matthew 11:28) so stay as close to Him as you possibly can in thought, word, and deed.
Returning to thoughts of the trial or stressor is extremely easy to do, but remember it will once again send stress hormones out into your body and stir up the feelings of fear and turmoil. How much wiser is it to keep thoughts of peace vigilantly locked in your mind, allowing the spirit to quietly guide your path and whisper words of peace and comfort to your heart? Timber Hawkeye sums up this principle in this way: “You can’t calm the storm...so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself, the storm will pass.” Kimberly Jones adds to that, saying, “Don’t let people pull you into their storm. Pull them into your peace.”
During the horrendous trials that plagued Joseph Smith’s life, he begged the Lord for answers and understanding while he was locked away in Liberty Jail (dungeon). The Lord comforted Joseph in words that can be comforting words for us as well, “My son, Peace be unto thy soul: thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment: and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 121:7-8). Perhaps this should be the scripture we recite in our minds as we hold on tightly to the peace that we prayed for and received. Now just continue to hold on to that peace. Hold tightly to those precious words of the Savior, “Peace be unto thy soul” (D&C 121:7).