18 November 2011

Peace is Closer Than We Think


(From Danny...)

We all struggle at various times to feel real peace and love, especially when life gets a little tough.  Hopefully we've noticed at least a few times in our lives where the Divine has stepped in and helped us, either temporally or spiritually.  Many of us are more aware of the times God seems to have stepped in for someone else and yet ignored us in a seemingly similar situation.  Why the difference...if God is no respecter of persons, why does it appear that sometimes He is more generous with others than He is with us?

I don't know if I can fully answer this question, because I've yet to experience all that life has to offer.  But, with everything that's been handed to me so far, I think I've started to figure it out...



What if God really is equally favorable to all.  What if the exact same level of peace, love, joy, hope, energy, enthusiasm, inspiration, etc. is pouring out upon everyone, and I mean EVERYONE...all the time.  We often compare ourselves to others, wondering what we're doing wrong that is stopping us from receiving more of that good stuff they are talking about.

We are sometimes held in awe at the spiritual guidance that is given to some seemingly chosen few (Jesus, Buddha, Eckhart Tolle. etc.).  Take which ever one might be a personal spiritual hero of yours, and consider the possibility that the same amount of light that they receive is being sent to you right now, in this very moment.  You just haven't learned to receive it yet, you're just not as finely tuned.   

In our worst times, we may find ourselves praying for relief for hours upon hours, maybe for days and weeks before it finally comes.  When it does come, it's as if God finally turned on a light switch that He had previously left off.  In fact I often hear people coming to the conclusion that He was just testing our faith to see if we'd continue, and only after enough effort had been put in did he reward us with the Peace that we sought.  Though there certainly is some truth to that concept (i.e. only after the trial of your faith do you receive your witness), I've started experiencing it a little differently the more consistently I apply the principles Mara and I talk about on this blog.

I've experienced that in reality, it may very well be that the same amount of love, peace, and joy was pouring out upon you BEFORE you even started your prayer as when you finally received your answer.  The reason it took you so long to feel that peace is you had to get to a place where you "vibrated at the same frequency" as God's love.
What I mean is, how can you expect to feel love, peace, and joy, when you refuse to give up the emotions of anger, fear, doubt, etc (the emotions that are causing you to seek divine intervention in the first place)?  When our faith is real, to the point that we willfully abandon those negative emotions as we approach God, He cannot possibly withhold peace from us...primarily because He never was withholding it in the first place.  We just couldn't notice it, we weren't in tune with God.

God doesn't take away our fears and doubts and anger, we must choose to give them up.   And in the process we make room for the peace we were after all along...the Peace that was already there. 

There's a story in this book of scripture that tells of a man who had developed complete and total faith in God.  In one of his encounters with the Divine, he addresses God with such faith, that as God stretches forth his hand the man actually sees it breaking through the veil.  The man wasn't expecting that and fell back terrified.  The following conversation leads you to believe that God didn't purposefully reveal himself to the man, but it was because of his complete faith that the man couldn't be kept from experiencing the reality of a living God.

So I imagine it is with God's Peace.  God isn't specifically sending us peace in one moment and not in another.  It is constantly flowing from him, it is the reality of His very nature.  It is we who become aware of that peace, not God who decides to turn it on or turn it off. 

Peace is as close as we're ready for it to be.

22 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. I can't even believe your post. I know it was meant for me. Thank you for writing this. And thanks be to Heavenly Father for helping me listen to the spirit... so that I could get up out of bed... (of where I was tossing and turning because of some hurt feelings that I have been struggling with) and come down stairs to read, and find "peace". My intentions were to get out the conference ensign, and read.. which I am still going to do after I finish this comment. But my computer was open.. and I couldn't help but see your "peace" heading on this post... so I clicked on it. I have only been to your blog once before.. so I don't know exactly why it is in my "top hits" page...but it was there.. and I saw this.. and read it. And now I am printing it out... because I LOVED everything you had to say, and I 100% agree.. and it is exactly what I needed to hear.

    Thank you, thank you. Really. What you talked about isn't always easy to do.. but I am so grateful to have this post, to read over and ponder on. Thank you. May you and your adorable wife be blessed in your endeavors.

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  2. this was great! I once blogged about how I felt God had never answered a prayer of mine. Not one! http://thisgirllovestotalk.blogspot.com/2011/05/answers-like-light.html
    However I totally saw Gods hand in my life and have seen miracles happen. I started to think that perhaps some of us are lead - just lead in the right paths and that life is happy and works out. That indeed is a blessing. I do know that I need to keep working on being better at praying and 'coming into the same vibration' as you say. God is always there. He doesnt turn on and off! thanks for the wonderful words!

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  3. I'm so glad I found your blog. I cannot remember through who, but I am grateful for you two to share your story. It is both touching and enlightening.

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  4. Becky, you're right...this isn't always easy to do. But it gets easier. I think I've always kind of known this my whole life, but my divorce gave me the first real opportunity to truly practice and to practice often.

    Every time feelings of despair, anger, hurt or fear crept up on me...I felt empty and alone. When I purposefully changed those thoughts to gratitude, love, forgiveness and hope...all of the sudden comfort and peace was there.

    The emotions and thoughts God asks us to develop are what bring the peace and joy he promises us. I can't think of a time since I truly learned that lesson where it hasn't been true for me.

    So, yes...it is hard, but sooooo worth it to develop the self discipline that allows you to 1) be aware of the negative thoughts you feel and 2) dismiss them quickly because you know that hanging on to them in any shape or form stops you from feeling something infinitely better.

    Good Luck!

    This Girl Loves To Talk - thanks for sharing your experience!

    Jenn - We're grateful for you too :)

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  5. This is really well written, accessible truth. And a good reminder to practice seeking God. Sometimes I think that it's scary to recognize that we have the choice to feel peace or not, and it seems (ironically) easier retreat into victim mode. We are powerful in our ability to choose, and also responsible not always for our circumstances but for our responses. I appreciate you putting this out there and love your and Mara's blog.

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  6. Well said Birdie - you've nicely summarized one of the most powerful truths...that of Choice. I've often said that more often than not, God is in our reaction (what we choose) and not the circumstance (that which is thrust upon us). Thanks for adding your insight!

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  7. Thanks for sharing this! It reminds me of what my college-attending told me last week. He had just been to a Stake Conference where the Apostle, Elder Ballard had spoken. He had felt the spirit and was happy. Then he got home and found out some disturbing things and felt angry. He told me he felt the spirit leave.

    I've learned from my husband to control my feelings. I grew up thinking that wasn't possible.

    The change that Christ wants us to make is so worth the trouble! Thanks for sharing so articulately how to make these changes.

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  8. Danny - "I've often said that more often than not, God is in our reaction (what we choose) and not the circumstance (that which is thrust upon us)." This. This is so beautiful. I am not a particularly religious person, but I think anyone can see the love, hope and power in that statement. Regardless of how one characterizes "God," we can all work to find that peace and love in our reactions and our choices. It gives me chills! All my best to you and Mara; I look forward to reading every day.

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  9. Carrie, thank you for adding that perspective. These principles are true no matter what one's concept of God is, or even if individuals lack a defined concept of God. I'm so glad you see the power in this even though you don't share our same outlook, and wish the best to you and to any other reader who feels similar to you. Thanks for adding your voice!

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  10. Once again, you articulate a truth that has been floating around inside my head and heart. This is so true. As I read your description of the constant presence of Heavenly Father's peace and love, I related that to how I feel about my children. My love for them is always there even when they misbehave or are out of my sight. Do they always feel and recognize this love? I hope so, but it is easy to take for granted.

    I also loved your advice about choosing to give up the negative feelings we have. That's something I've been realizing lately--that we choose how to spend our emotional energy. I've been working (and praying) to let some old hurts and hard feelings go so that I have more room and time for more positive things. I know that I'm so much more at peace when I do.

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  11. Wow. Just wow. This post is wonderful. Thank you, Danny. I especially like this: "God doesn't take away our fears and doubts and anger, we must choose to give them up." I believe that one of the most important choices we make each day is what our attitude will be.

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  12. I was thinking about this post last night and I wonder where and how grief fits in. When we lose something precious (like a marriage, trust in a person, our health) we often are anxious, and push away feelings of acceptance and God's love and peace. But grieving and facing loss, does not necessarily separate us from peace. In fact that grief may be essential to drawing nearer (along the lines of mourning with those who mourn). But those deep feelings and the sorrow can also feel alienating. I wonder your thoughts on that....

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  13. Birdie - a reader emailed us about a very similar question. I've been toying with a post but haven't quite finished it. Here are some of my basic thoughts that will eventually find their way into a post:

    I think there are some forms of pain/sorrow/sadness that are holy and divine. I think sorrow and peace can coexist, and can be felt simultaneously. That's how I felt when I faced the loss of my first marriage. There was grief and sorrow for the breakdown of the marriage, there was sadness as I watched my first wife struggle to find her way through some very painful moments and make some bad decisions in the process...but there was also peace. The peace came from my total confidence that either 1) my first wife and I would fully reconcile and move forward better than ever, or 2) that life would still be beautiful and other wonderful doors would open to me in the event divorce proved inevitable. I was convinced, either way, that everything was going to be okay, in fact better than okay. Those were my only two options. Since both of those options included an attitude of faith, hope and love - peace was my result. So I felt peace in the knowledge that no matter which future I faced, all would be well...while also feeling sorrow and grief as I watched someone I loved struggle so dearly to find the same meaning in her life.

    Here's the trick, sometimes sorrow and sadness turn into anger, jealousy, and bitterness (How easy would it be to go through divorce or death or any great loss and allow your grief to turn to anger at God, jealousy towards those that still have what you've lost, bitterness at the unfairness of life). So even though sorrow isn't ungodly, anger/jealousy/bitterness are.

    It is our duty to make sure that our sorrow doesn't keep us from the best emotions of faith, hope, humility, patience, trust, love, etc. Sorrow is good, but only to the extent that we allow it to help us turn to God for the ultimate source of comfort, peace, love, and even happiness.

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  14. I just wanted to thank both of you. Though I know everything you write to be so true, I'd been struggling to connect all the dots and figure out how to apply it. I've been getting closer everyday, and today I received an answer to my prayers and a very real knowledge of Heavenly Father's presence in my life. Your words bring such strength and have been a huge part of bringing me to the answers I need and the peace that has been waiting for me. I have so needed this peace! Thank you

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  15. thanks for your thoughts. I think that is a crucial distinction between mourning and the potential and terrible side effects of anger/jealousy/bitterness.

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  16. "God doesn't take away our fears and doubts and anger, we must choose to give them up. And in the process we make room for the peace we were after all along...the Peace that was already there." - my favorite part of this post.

    Like one of the other commenters, I am not a particularly religious person, but I love that both of you write in a way that (although you're coming from a religious point of view) the concepts are accessible/applicable to anyone.

    thank you for this post!

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  17. Karen - thank you for your comment, and I'm glad you're not the only one that has said that. Mara and I certainly choose to make our religious worship a big part of our lives and a key outlet for the development of the attributes we discuss here. That being said, the idea that the things we discuss are limited to any one religion, or to religion at all, just isn't true.

    No matter what you believe, or what you call God, or if you don't even call it God...these principles still apply, to ANYONE. I'm truly happy that's evident to you, and I hope the same is true for other readers.

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  18. Wow Thank You for writing this. It is very inspiration and exactly what I needed to read.
    Thank you

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  19. Danny,
    Thank you very much for your incredible post. I think what you said about God's love and peace always being available is incredibly true. I did notice something that you said that triggered the perfectionist in me and I want to say something to those who might be struggling with the same problem. You suggested that Tolle, Buddha and Jesus were more able to receive peace because they were more enlightened and vibrated at a higher frequency. While this is entirely true of course, I think we have to keep in mind that we are not the one's that need to get ourselves to that point. Yes, we need to do some hard work, but ultimately, it is our Savior that carries us across the finish line (and really throughout the whole race!). Learning that the responsibility to be enlightened was not my burden alone but one that I shared with Christ, really brought me peace. I really believe that as long as we are willing; willing to forgive, willing to submit to God, willing to love and be whole, that God will take care of the rest. And we shouldn't view our own imperfect and vulnerable state as we try to get to that point as somehow proof that we are not good enough. We shouldn't judge or condemn ourselves for not being there yet. Rather than demand of ourselves that we be 'perfect' enough for enlightenment, peace, forgiveness, and wholeness, we can affirm within ourselves and to God that these things are what we want, and then be patient and kind with ourselves as God works to bring them about in our lives. Yes, God forever sends out his love, and yes, it is our birthright and destiny to be forever immersed in that love and peace and joy, but it is also okay to be imperfect, to occasionally lose peace, or to struggle with forgiveness along the way. We must love ourselves enough to say "I am worthy of love and peace and joy," but also to say, "I can be patient and loving with myself while I get there."

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    Replies
    1. One thing I say each time we teach these principles about the importance of expressing virtues that I think you'll appreciate is as follows:

      "Now that we've discussed how important it is to develop and express virtues in response to the unfortunate circumstances of life, or the unfortunate actions of others...let me remind you of one very important thing. Just as I have described how others are worthy of a patient and loving response, you must remember that YOU are too. You are just as worthy of your own patience as you struggle to do these things more consistently, as anyone else would be. You are just as worthy of forgiveness and mercy for your personal failings, as I am encouraging you to express for others who have wronged you. You don't need to get it all at once....but you learn a little here and a little there, growing day by day. That's what you must do, and that's what I am trying to do. I think God is less concerned about where we are on the journey, and more concerned about which direction we're heading."

      Anyway, hope that lines up with your experiences as well. Thanks for the great comment and insights!

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    2. I love what you wrote! I can't wait to keep reading.

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