I know I’m jumping ahead, way ahead, to the final step—making peace. The word peace is usually associated with healing because peace signifies freedom from anxiety, pain, and fear. It signifies the end of suffering, a place of healing, a state of being. Peace is on every victims’ quest for healing.
It’s called making peace because there is a formula that must be followed to achieve and maintain peace.
Emilism: The formula for living without fear: Gratitude is the attitude, service is the key, peace is the gift.
This year with my personal focus on living without fear, I’ve been praying for things I’ve never prayed for before. Mainly, to be blessed with a grateful heart.
No matter what life brings, it is a gift to walk the path of mortality, discovering spiritual treasures along the way. In all of eternity, there is nothing that compares to this little blip of time. It is the end and the beginning, if there is such a thing. This life ends a period of probation where we lived in the presence of God, and begins the refining process, opening the gate to personal growth.
A few years ago, I read President Hinckley’s book, Standing for Something. In its pages I found one of these spiritual treasures. He said, “Gratitude is a sign of maturity. It is an indication of sincere humility. It is a hallmark of civility. And most of all, it is a divine principle… He (God) can touch the hearts of His children of all lands for good, and can bring into play those forces that lead to peace and justice and human happiness.” (Hinckley, Gordon B. Standing for Something. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000. P 106, 114. Print.) Gratitude is the attitude. Gratitude because surely the good outweighs the bad, and the bad, merely a stepping stone which, if crossed, becomes a bridge to stronger faith and greater blessings. Being able to walk the path of mortality with a grateful heart brings the kind of happiness that proves steadfast in the face of any trial.
As a young teen, my mother taught me this sound principle: that the best way to forget my own troubles is to serve others. This wise council has been taught by many mothers, and is something I am only beginning to understand.
Last August, I was asked by church leaders to participate in helping build relationships in my community through service. Since then, service has taken on a whole new meaning. I’m not just helping my church, but I’ve found my life’s purpose and passion—to help other women who have experienced sexual violence experience love and hope. “The privilege of serving in the cause of the Master can bring great satisfaction and inner peace.” (Faust, James E. A Growing Testimony. lds.org. General Conference, October 2000. 7 April 2015)
At Christmas time, I organized a service advent calendar for my family. We had fun delivering cookies to the local fire station, bringing hot coco to school teachers, or simply giving a compliment to a friend. At an already busy time of year, some days these acts of service were hard to fit in, but those were the days I experienced the most gratitude—when it was a sacrifice. We wanted to keep a good thing going, so set a goal to do a service project every month. Hours spent in service is bonding time for my family, but the truth is, you don’t even need to leave your house to do service. It can simply be thinking about someone’s needs before your own.
In the traditional 12 step program, the last and final step is giving back to the community. Service is an important aspect of the Atonement, and I believe signifies a true change of heart. Service is the key. Service because a heart that knows the joy of salvation yearns for others to experience the same, without persuasion or force, but through the power of an abiding testimony of God’s love. When I serve I feel grateful to be able to be an instrument in God’s hands.
I’ve also prayed for forgiveness. Not because I’ve committed any serious sin, but for the ways I fall short, the things I can’t change and don’t understand. For times I let go of my gratitude and distance myself from God. He never goes anywhere, but sometimes I step away.
I’ve been trying to recognize how fear clouds my judgement. When I find myself down or discouraged, I ask myself two questions: What do you really need and what unhealthy behavior are you doing to prevent you from getting it? Usually the answer is that I need peace, and I am behaving in a way that would only numb my emotions, but not bring back my precious peace.
Following this formula brings perspective and keeps me moving forward, leaving no more room for fear. Nothing about life has really changed. People around me still make their own choices, I still struggle with the things that are hard for me, but I’ve found a formula that works. Peace is the gift. Peace because it clams the storm. Because I can’t survive without it. Because even when I am not happy with what’s happening around me, peace is there to steady me.
“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).