I was first asked to give a talk in church a little over a month ago. We were on our vacation in Pennsylvania, all packed in the van just having left the campground when Paul’s cell phone rang. With five kids crammed in a van for long periods of time, things can get rather tumultuous. After numerous reminders and scoldings to the children to quiet down and quit squabbling, I answered. It was a member of our bishopric asking me to speak in a few weeks time, and the topic would be “Peace in the Home”. I chuckled as another outburst broke out in our van, and I thought, “I’m sure our home is very peaceful right now.” After all, “there is beauty all around when there’s no one home….” lol.
Then I received the wonderful news that I wouldn’t have to speak because of a change in the schedule do to General Conference. But that relief was short-lived when I received another phone call.
Since receiving the assignment, I can say our home has been anything but peaceful. In fact, it seems to have grown in chaos, and I began to think long and hard about what Peace in the Home is and how we find it.
Is it possible to have peace in your home in the midst of great heart wrenching tragedy? Is it possible to have peace in your home with children who have special needs and seem to enjoy wreaking havoc? Is it possible to have peace in your home when the children fight and squabble? When you feel stressed and stretched to the max? When you wonder how you will make ends meet and live within your means? When you have to tear your house apart and completely dismantle it? When you work yourself to such levels of exhaustion that you laugh at anything and cry over everything? What about in homes where there is marital strife? Or children gone astray? Is there peace in the home and if so, where can it be found?
As I began to ponder on what peace was, I learned what peace wasn’t. It’s not how well-behaved your children are. It’s not how quietly they sit during scriptures or whether or not they call out their siblings’ bad behavior during prayer. It’s not based on the number of fights or the chaos that might surround your home. It’s not a period free from trials or stress – though it would be nice.
What I believe peace in the home is, is the quiet assurance that Heavenly Father sends to your heart in the midst of all the chaos and madness that everything will be all right – some how, some day. It’s terribly easy to miss – it can get lost in the frustration of dealing with squabbling children, or the hecticness of taxi service. It can get lost in the trials that beset and overwhelm, but if we stop and look for it, and search it out in our hearts, we’ll find it, glimmering there beneath the surface, assuring us, that we can get there, we can get through.
The kind of peace that we are searching for, isn’t the kind where all fighting stops – if you have children, you know that’s impossible. It’s not a halt in our troubles and disagreements. We are told in 2Nephi chapter 2 that there must needs be opposition in all things – so we will always have discord and trials – sorrows and heartaches to teach us about true joy. The peace we can find and achieve in our homes and in our lives is emotional peace – freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. As we turn to our Heavenly Father and, through the atonement, turn our burdens over to him, we will in turn be given peace.
It will still be hard and at times it can still feel impossible. There are many many times when we question how we can possibly manage to continue on and make it through. Satan besets us with thoughts of unworthiness, discouragement, or worthlessness, but if we fight through the darkness and concentrate on the light of Christ and his atonement, we will be able to fight free of the oppressive darkness and find peace. Sometimes it may feel faint and fragile – it might be hard to grasp onto, but it will be there and if we give it room and nurture it, it will grow.
How do we find peace if we feel like we don’t have peace – honestly, this last week we had quite a bit of chaos going on in our home and I had a hard time finding that peace. I wasn’t sure it was there – I doubted my ability to feel or receive that peace. But as I began to look and see and open my heart I saw it – and as I put my trust more and more in Heavenly father I could feel that peace.
As I pondered this topic I thought of 7 key things to help us have and find peace in our homes:
1. Prayer – we can pray for peace, pray to feel it – regular and consistent family and personal prayers will give us the strength and foundation we need to make it through the daily tribulations and the even bigger trials that beset us. Prayer invites the spirit into our homes, and with it comes peace.
2. Scripture Study – as we have focused on reading the Book of Mormon this year, I feel peace has grown in our home – there are still fights and squabbles, I still get frustrated and have “wits end” kind of days – but in general things are just a touch smoother and peace is easier to find- if you look for it. Personal scripture study is just as important – through it I have received the strength to carry on through trials. I am more spiritually focused, and peace is taught and found.
3. Gratitude – I was feeling particularly overwhelmed at the end of this week. I was feeling rather picked on, honestly and having a hard time finding anything to be positive about. I was exhausted – physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I went online and started to read an Ensign talk that happened to be about gratitude. Immediately I began to focus on all the blessings we had – the miracles the friends who have helped us time and time again, our family, and the myriad of blessings that I have in my life. There are so many more blessings than trials. And in that moment I felt the stress begin to melt away and peace enter into my heart. Yes, even if things look rather bleak at the moment, we have so, so much to be grateful for. Gratitude helps us realize all that our loving Heavenly Father has truly done for us and allows the peace he is trying to send us enter into our hearts.
4. Service – losing ourselves in the service of others allows us to forget our woes and troubles for a few moments and not only brings peace into our hearts and families, but in the hearts and families of others. We have been the receivers of wonderful acts of service many times and I can’t not describe the lifting of burdens it has brought us and the beautiful peace that accompanied every meal and act of service. As I have striven to serve others and taught my family to serve others – we have felt the same peace.
5. Love – allowing ourselves to feel Heavenly Father’s love – he truly loves us, he wants to help us and bless us. If we seek out His love we will also find His peace. As we show love in our families – reprimand with kindness and try to take the harshness from our voices love and peace will grow in our homes. As we teach our children and practice our selves to be more loving, kind, understanding, tolerant, long-suffering, and patient, love and peace will grow in our homes. We won’t be perfect at it, but each day we can improve a little.
6. Laughter & Joy – there was a moment when we were stressed to the max and exhausted – everyone could feel it – we pulled out the scriptures to read and it seemed like every little thing began to happen to keep us from reading – kids talking, hanging upside down in the chairs, pulling faces, we were at the table – so dishes being spilled, dogs nudging and licking toes, everyone telling everyone to be quiet, after numerous starts and even more stops the ridiculousness of the situation just hit and both Paul and I started to laugh. The tension snapped as everyone joined in and it spread through the family. Finally we all sat at the table laughing and joy began to replace the tension and stress – and with that joy came peace. Peace that all would be well and that things would work out somehow. Another day I was impossibly grumpy and frustrated with the children and life in general. Knowing that I can’t dance and be angry at the same time, Paul began spinning me about the kitchen. My dark mood broke and with the joy and laughter came the peace and soon we had boys dancing about (and on our feet). 2 Nephi 2:25 says that Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have Joy. We are meant to be a happy people. But happiness isn’t something that happens to us – it’s something we choose.
7. Finally, and most importantly, remember the atonement. If there is anything that can bring peace into our lives and homes it is a knowledge and remembrance of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Elder Richard G. Scott has taught,
“Be certain that every decision you make, whether temporal or spiritual, is conditioned on what the Savior would have you do. When He is the center of your home, there is peace and serenity. There is a spirit of assurance that pervades the home, and it is felt by all who dwell there.”
Jesus Christ is the bringer of Peace. He suffered not only for our sins, but for our every pain, worry, stress, and heartache. When we may feel no one knows or understands, He is always there to comfort and lift. Philippians 4:13 is one of my favorite scriptures “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” He is our strength – through him we can make it through every trial no matter how defeated we feel he is there, waiting to help us. He will pick us up and carry us through the times when our steps falter. I have a testimony of our Savior. I know he Love us. I know He Lives. I know He lives to bless us, to comfort us, to bring us peace. I think often in the hymn “I Know my Redeemer Lives”. In moments when peace feels hard to find – I turn to that hymn and remember the atonement. Not only does the peace then enter my heart, but strength to pick up and keep moving on.
In a conference talk by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin given in the April 2000 conference he said,
“When you feel tossed by the storms of life and when the waves rise and the winds howl, on those occasions it would be natural for you to cry in your heart, ‘Master, carest thou not that I perish?’ When these times come, think back upon that day when the Savior awakened in the stern of the ship, rose up and rebuked the storm. ‘Peace, be still,’ He said.
“At times we may be tempted to think the Savior is oblivious to our trials. In fact, the reverse is true; it is we who need to be awakened in our hearts to His teachings.
“Use your ingenuity, your strength, your might to resolve your challenges. Do all you can do and then leave the rest to the Lord. President Howard W. Hunter said: ‘If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right.’
“In our own storms in life the Savior is our solace and our sanctuary. If we seek peace, we must come unto Him. He Himself spoke this eternal truth when He said, ‘My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ When our souls are anchored in the safe harbor of the Savior, we can proclaim as did Paul: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.’”
Over this week and the past year and a half I learned what it means to have peace in a home and it surprised me. I thought the fighting had to stop or that I had to be the “perfect mom”. I thought that peace was something that happened in those little blissful moments when everything is the picture of perfectness – where the kids are playing together happily and the trials seem lesser and it’s like a spiritual sigh runs through the house. Those are examples of peace – but if that is what we think peace in our homes is, we will seldomly find or obtain it.
I have learned that peace can be found anytime – any where. It’s part of who we are. It’s our conviction in following the savior, living His gospel, and trusting in our Heavenly Father even when things seem impossible and we don’t understand what he is doing with our lives, we only know that it hurts and we cling to faith and pray for the strength to get through.
I know that in those moments when we feel overwhelmed and beaten down by life’s trials we can find peace. We can bring it into our homes. Our Heavenly Father loves us, he truly does. He will grant us all the things we need to succeed in this life and overcome the trials that beset us. Sometimes we might need to quiet ourselves or look past the chaos that surrounds us, but His peace is there waiting to bless us and our homes. I am eternally grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows and understand our needs. I am grateful for the peace he sends and for the tools he has given us to have and find peace in our homes.