Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter

Today is such a special, sacred day and I am so thankful for it.  The reality is that we are all so in need of the hope, peace, forgiveness, mercy and grace afforded us by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Our morning was not a peaceful, happy one.  Everyone was kind of cranky, unprepared, and out of sorts.  We left for church with tears, hurt feelings and frustration rampant.  Exactly the opposite of what I hope for and strive to achieve. Usually the sacrament helps soothe my troubled heart on days/weeks that I feel that way...but not today.  I felt terrible because I recognize the importance of this sacred day and it was anything but what I want my children to experience...but then the primary sang "Gethsemane".   And my heart began to soften. Then Halee stood and spoke about the promptings of the Holy Ghost and the spirit came and comforted me.  I think it soothed Ella's troubled heart as well.  And Emalee gave a beautiful talk about how we bring Christ joy as we are baptized, keep our covenants, serve, study and strive to become like Him.  That one sentence summary of Halee's talk and one sentence summary of Emalee's talk do not do either of them justice.  Because these two spoke with the spirit, my heart rejoiced and I could feel the love of my Savior. The rest of sacrament meeting and Sunday School were wonderful and the spirit was present.  It was a wonderful day!  We were in need of peace, forgiveness, mercy and grace and that is exactly what we received on this most sacred of days!

In young women's, we had decided to teach together as a presidency on this Easter Sunday.  We didn't really have a concrete plan for what we would teach other than that it would be related to the Savior and Easter.  But I felt the Spirit so strong as each member of the presidency shared her small portion of the lesson...and I felt they connected and were interwoven so beautifully.

My part of the lesson was about our Prince of Peace.  The church has an Easter initiative each year, a video that helps turn our thoughts to the Savior and allows members to share their testimony through social media.  This year's video was about Christ as our Prince of Peace.  It was such an inspiring and touching video and so I decided to share my thoughts about how Christ has brought peace to my life. I brought just brief notes about what to say so I'm sure these words below aren't exactly what I said, but they give the gist of what I said.

I began by stating that we have peace because we understand the plan, we know our purpose, and we recognize our potential.  Christ truly is our prince of peace.

One of my favorite stories of the Savior is in 3 Nephi.  After Christ's crucifixion, there were earthquakes, tempests, and terrible destruction.  The land was covered in absolute darkness for 3 days.  The people must have been scared, troubled and grieving.  In 3 Nephi 8 it says, "there was great mourning and howling and weeping among all the people continually..."

And then Christ comes.  The people hear a voice, but they can't understand it.  The listen closer and hear the Father's voice exclaim, "This is my beloved Son."  They see Christ descend out of the heavens and he says, "Behold I am Jesus Christ whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.  And behold I am the light and the life of the world..."

They had been filled with sorrow and fear.  Imagine the joy and peace they must have felt to see Jesus descend upon them.  Just seeing His light and hearing His voice probably spoke peace to their mind.  Just to hear Him teach would probably bring healing to many troubled hearts.  Yet that isn't all that Christ did.  He ministered to them, one by one.  He let each man, woman and child thrust their hands into His side and feel the prints of the nails in His hands, feet and side.  They came "forth one by one"...and just as He ministered to them individually then, He does the same for us today.  When our hearts are troubled, when we are filled with sorrow or fear, we, too, can and will be ministered to by our Savior, through the Holy Ghost.

I shared 3 times when my heart has been comforted and I have felt peace (although there have been many other times, big and small):
1.  When I was a high school student, about to graduate.  I was trying to decide what college to attend.  I had been offered scholarships to a couple of different universities and I was trying to determine where to go.  There were pros and cons to each.  So I studied it out, visited each campus, and made it a matter of prayer.  I decided to go to BYU and I felt peace about that decision.  It was a decision that richly blessed my life.

2.  When Ella was 4 months old, we learned she had a hole in her heart.  When she was 19 months old, they decided to do open heart surgery.  Having your young child have surgery is scary.  And the doctors have to tell you everything that might go wrong.  But rather than feeling absolutely terrified, I felt peace.  Ella had received a priesthood blessing and was promised that she would be fine.  And she was.  She healed so quickly and left the hospital sooner than the doctors had predicted.  She is completely healthy today.

3.  About two years ago, things had become fairly unbearable at the school I was teaching at.  I don't like change and don't really seek after change, but things were bad enough that I felt like it was time to change.  But (more than probably anyone realized), I agonized over that decision.  I loved the teachers I worked with.  I'd been at that school 11 years and I loved the students and I loved my coworkers.  I also felt like working with children in poverty was making a difference and I felt a bit like I was betraying them by leaving.  Like I was throwing in the towel and quitting instead of fighting to make things better.  I shed many, many tears and didn't feel certain I was doing the right thing.  Nevertheless I prayed and hoped and looked for another job.  I interviewed at several schools.  And then I was offered a job at Ensign.  I'd liked it when I went for my interview but just wasn't sure.  Nevertheless I accepted the job, feeling excited but still unsure.  A few weeks later, I went to meet with one of the teachers and to get a tour of the school.  The secretary, Dani, had been very friendly and welcoming in my interview and she was that day as well.  She showed me around.  I met several teachers and they all seemed great.  And I looked at the work hanging on the wall...and it was incredible and the kind of teaching I wanted to be doing but didn't feel like I could at Parkview.  Suddenly, I felt true joy and peace wash over me...that Ensign was where I belong.  I still shed tears my last week at Parkview...it was bittersweet to leave, although most of my friends left there at the same time...but I felt peace about my decision.  And it has been a blessing to be at Ensign.  I love teaching again.  I feel successful.  I feel my confidence returning.  It has blessed my family.

Jesus Christ truly is the Prince of Peace.  He will minister and speak peace to you too.  I am so grateful for Him!!  I testify that He lives and He loves us.