By Justin D.
I am a 16-year-old sophomore in high school. I have a few hobbies including playing basketball, playing video games, cooking, and watching sports with my dad. My family and I have been members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for about eight years.
Lately I’ve pondered the question, “What does it mean to be a peacemaker?” Other questions I had were, “How have I been a peacemaker?” and “How does being a peacemaker relate to being a child of God”?
What it means to be a peacemaker. What is the opposite of peace? I think of hostility. Beginning with the fall of Adam and Eve, there has been hostility, war, and unrest on the earth. Today, we experience stress, anger, anxiety, and hatred in our daily lives. However, even with the challenges we endure, in times like these, when things are at their worst, we see the best come out of some people. There are people throughout history who put their personal interest, pride, and humility aside for the good of others. Hopefully we can all look to someone in our own lives that has these same traits. To me that’s what a peacemaker is: someone who can fight through the smoke and chaos that comes with challenges and see the best in people, and the best in situations, and makes it their central focus and goal to nurture and spread that good.
There is someone at my school that comes to mind who bears these qualities. He has inspired me to be better. He is a mediator: his job is to try to help students find peace, whether that means peace in their lives at home (should they be struggling with personal issues), or peace at school (if they are having trouble with a classmate). Every day, when I see him in the hall dealing with hostile, angry kids, I wonder “wouldn’t he just love to smack that boy?” But then it dawns on me, that would only make him feel good, and only for a short time. To do his job as a mediator, or a peacemaker, and bring peace — true peace that lasts — he has to find a way to put aside what might make him feel good and think about what might make the other parties feel good and bring peace to the situation. Resolving that conflict would bring a much longer, sustained, lasting peace.
How have I been a peacemaker? I have three sisters at home: one older sister and two younger sisters. Honestly, I love my sisters. They have taught me a lot, and have really been a blessing. However, they have struggles trying to get along, share, and understand each other. Sometimes peace at home requires more skill than negotiating between Israel and Palestine.
To me, a peacemaker’s priority is to remain calm and centered with the Spirit when situations are at their worst. When two people are in a disagreement, a peacemaker must step in and help each side see the other’s opinion. Even if the two sides don’t agree, the important factor in peace is that they understand the other’s opinion. This isn’t easy, particularly at home. We get so heated, thanks to emotion and frustration, over our desire to get our point across, that we block out the possibility of being open to listening to the other’s point. I try to create peace by stepping in and helping each of my sisters understand each other. These experiences are helping me grow personally. They are helping me grow stronger, and making me a better peacemaker.
How does being a peacemaker relate to being a child of God? Well, to simplify things for me a bit I guess, there’s one simple rule when it comes to being a peacemaker. You have to be at peace. You can’t share something you don’t have.
Peace to me is a gift. You can’t make it in the kitchen, you can’t win it playing a video game, and you can’t fake it. My father gave me the opportunity to receive peace when he made the choice to convert to this church. My baptism gave me the first taste of peace. My covenant with Heavenly Father continues to give me the opportunity to grow and become more peaceful. Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated in a talk entitled “Blessed are the Peacemakers” that peace can prevail only when the natural inclination to fight is superseded by the determination to love one another on a loftier level. He goes on to say this can only be done by living through Jesus Christ. Jesus taught us how to live with one another. He declared two great commandments, “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mark 12:30-31). Just before his death the Savior said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27).
These scriptures are great reminders that peace is a gift that we are commanded to share. We are all brothers and sisters thus making us all children of God.
My favorite scripture story comes from Mark chapter 4. This is a story of Jesus and his disciples being swept up in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. The story tells us the waves beat at the walls of the boat and Jesus asleep at the stern. The disciples cried out to him, to which he awoke and, standing calmly, with authority, rebuked the wind. He said to the waves “Peace be still!”, and the winds ceased, the clouds broke, and the rain stopped.
If the Son of God can say “peace be still” and silence a biblical storm, He can speak to your heart and calm the storm you may be feeling right now. His is the ultimate peace.
It is our moral, civic, and Christ-given obligation to share and spread this peace in a way only His peacemakers can.
In my life, I often fail to accomplish my goals and live up to the person I want to be. These times sometimes prevent me from being happy and feeling peace. I remember the pain and confusion I feel after sinning and failing to be the person that Christ wants me to be. I have felt directionless.
Yet, I continued to remember the sacrifice that Christ made for me and the love that He showed. From these thoughts I found hope in Christ, but this did not solve my problems. It did, however, give me the strength I needed to get on the right path. As I turned to the scriptures and prayer, God’s guidance dissolved my confusion. I felt like the Book of Mormon prophet Alma, who after sinning against God, found hope in the words of his father who had prophesied “unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world” (Alma 36:17). Alma cries, “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death” (Alma 36:18). Alma then describes the exceedingly great joy that filled his soul. I have felt the same feelings of joy as I have repented of and forsaken my sins. I have felt freedom and peace.
The repentance process has proven to me the divinity of Jesus Christ and His personal love for me and each of us.
Knowing His love for me, I know he has a plan for my life. Understanding this has helped me gain hope that I can overcome all my trials. It has taught me to never give up, but to rely upon Christ to carry me through rough times.
I know that Christ is interested in my welfare. Through prayer, I know that we can each feel the love and help that Christ freely gives us. I pray that all will gain hope through Christ to overcome their trials. Trust that He loves you and turn to Him to experience His redeeming power.
Just the other week I was forced to make a difficult choice on whether or not to watch an R-rated movie. In most cases, staying true to the standards I’ve set for myself isn’t too difficult, but in this particular case doing what I knew to be right was harder than usual. My psychology class was finishing a long unit, and to review for our upcoming test, the teacher decided to show us a movie that helped capture a lot of the curriculum we had recently learned. I was excited to watch this movie until my teacher announced that the film we were about to watch was rated R. After I heard this I immediately cringed: how was I supposed to review the material I learned in class and keep my moral standards at the same time? This had me stumped for a while before I made my decision.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are asked not to watch any movie that is rated R. We try to watch movies that would only motivate us to do good and keep our standards; most rated R movies don’t help accomplish that. Instead, they are spiritually damaging and can lead us down a path we’re trying to avoid. When I explain this to my friends, I usually get the response, “what makes an R-rated movie any different from a borderline PG-13 movie? To answer honestly, I don’t know if there is a difference. But what I do know is that we are invited not to watch, “anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way”. Its possible that some PG-13 movies could deter us from that goal as well! Because of this, members of my church have to use their judgment and choose whether or not its appropriate to view the movie they’re planning on watching. But discouraging members not to view R-Rated movies makes it easier to attain the goal of keeping good thoughts, actions and language.
At the end of the day, I think it comes down to obedience. It’s easy for me to justify doing the wrong thing because I often feel like my particular circumstance is different and is the exception to the rule. It isn’t easy making decisions without knowing all the details or understanding the whole picture. But that’s what religion is all about! Religion believing in something without knowing everything. Having to trust that God is leading you where you want to be even if it’s difficult at first. Although I don’t know exactly what my church’s thought process or reasoning for this rule was, I do know that my church, led by Christ, is trying to steer me into the right direction in life. And I’ve learned from experience that if I continue to follow their guidelines I’ll be much better off. I’ve come to know that my church is true and as I trust in God by simply obeying I will be rewarded.
While in my dilemma of what to do, the words of one of my church’s children’s songs came to mind. The song goes, “If the Savior stood beside me would I do the things I do? Would I think of his commandments and try harder to be true?” . After picturing Christ next to me as I made my decision, how could I just sit back and disregard a standard I’ve set for myself? When I heard those words come to mind, I got out of my seat and walked up to my teacher’s desk and asked to leave in front of my whole class. After a brief conversation, my teacher was so impressed with my courage to stand up that I didn’t have to do any make-up assignment, and was excused from class for the rest of the week. This experience taught me that by simply doing what is right, even when its hard, God will bless you.
By Claudia M. Buruca
What is a mother?
If you type in this question to any search engine you will find many results and definitions. Some examples would be: “a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth”, or the verb form “of bringing up a child with care and affection.”
To me, a mother is someone who guides us in the right direction. She loves us unconditionally and she puts her child’s needs above her own. Brother Bradley D. Foster said: “By divine design, nurturing seems to be part of the spiritual heritage given to women.”
The other day I asked one of my co-workers what a mother was to him, and how he would describe a mother. It took him a while to answer my question. After a few minutes he came up with an answer. He told me “a mother should be caring and loving. They should be tender, but also give their love unconditionally.”
As President Joseph F. Smith said, “The love of a true mother comes nearer [to] being like the love of God than any other kind of love” (“The Love of Mother,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1910, 278).
My co-worker also said that mother’s can perceive “when things are not well, or when things may go wrong.” There were two things that I liked in what he said. The first being “motherhood and fatherhood is a picture of God’s love and faithfulness.” The second, that mother’s don’t have to be the ones who gave birth to you. They could be someone who took over the role of being a mother because the mother was absent. Mothers could also be grandmothers, aunts, and even father’s, etc.
In my life, I have the blessing of having three mothers. My mother being a single parent raised me with my brother. When she had no other choice but to work and go to school to give me a better future, I spent most of my childhood with my grandmother and great-grandmother. I consider them both my mothers as well because they have helped raise me, and have made me into the person I am to this day. I am very grateful for this blessing in my life.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said that “If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation-not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them.” All three of my mother’s have been there when I feel down and have been there when I am doing well. My great-grandmother is an example of a woman who grew up without a mother. She was raised by my great-great grandfather. He instilled in her all the qualities that she was able to instill in my grandmother. These qualities have been passed down the generations to me. For this reason I know what the role and duty of a mother should be, and I will strive to add on to those qualities for my future generations.
As President James E. Faust said: “There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood. The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation” (“Fathers, Mothers, Marriage
Anyone who knows about our church probably knows about all the standards. It’s not a secret that we have many to follow and to some outside of the church it might seem crazy that we would want to live our lives being so “restricted.” People may also notice how much time we spend at church or doing church-related activities. That might seem crazy as well. For example, I spend three hours at church on Sunday and two more in the evening if there’s a youth meeting. I wake up at 4:50 am every morning to attend Seminary (scripture study) with other local youth at 6 am. On Wednesday nights, there is Mutual (a youth activity night). When I have sports, I’m always in a mad rush to get ready and finish my homework before I leave to the Mutual. On Saturdays, there may be a group activity for all the youth in our region, so over the whole week the hours add up. In church, we also have lay ministry or un-payed callings which we sacrifice time for as well. I’m the first counselor in the Mia Maids presidency, basically meaning I’m in a leadership position with the 14 and 15 year old girls . Sometimes that takes up time as well, particularly the meetings.
So why be a Mormon? It’s all worth it and I’ll tell you why. The many standards keep me happy and safe from the destructive things in this world. Because I don’t take drugs or drink, my life will forever be free from addiction and the problems associated with it. My family will not be torn apart by an alcoholic parent or a sibling jailed for dealing drugs. By dressing modestly I can respect my body and earn respect from those around me. When I choose not to go to my Sunday sport practices I am able to keep the Sabbath Christ-centered and spend time with my family. Those are just few of many examples.
Overall, my life has been richer and so much better because of my religion. For all the hours willingly sacrificed, I get more blessings in return. It’s worth being Mormon when I see how my tithing money was spent towards a church building for those who badly needed it. It’s worth it when I see the smiles of a family after raking their whole property with the youth in my stake. It’s worth it when I know I’ll always have my Savior to rely on and that I’ll never be alone, as well as why I’m on this Earth, where I’ll go after, and that my family will always be together. It’s worth it when I go to the temple and get baptized and confirmed for those who are dead. It’s worth in when I get to spend my summers with other Mormon teens, making new friendships and having a good time. It’s worth it when I get chills from a church lesson, or get the indescribable feeling that comes from the Spirit.
I love my church! My religion is my life and my life is my religion. For me being a Mormon is as much a part of me as my eye color or hair texture. Believe me when I say I intend to keep the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a part of my life, now and always! 🙂
Singing is a way to express joy and worship. In Doctrine and Covenants 25:12 it says, “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” The song of the heart delights our Father in Heaven, no matter how bad you think you sound singing!
Another scripture in Alma 5:26 says, “And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” That is so awesome that you should sing the song of redeeming love!
Another scripture in Colossians 3:16 reads, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” We should treat songs as the word of Christ in a way! This doesn’t mean that you can’t sing modern music or old music just be aware that you need to “Choose carefully the music you listen to. Pay attention to how you feel when you are listening. Some music can carry evil and destructive messages. Do not listen to music that encourages immorality or glorifies violence through its lyrics, beat, or intensity. Do not listen to music that uses vulgar or offensive language or promotes evil practices. Such music can dull your spiritual sensitivity.”
“See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast” (Alma 38:11). Pride, in the scriptures, is when a person puts greater trust in himself or herself than in God. It also means that a person thinks he or she is superior to others. The opposite of this unrighteous pride is humility and submissiveness to the Lord and His commandments. Those who are humble strive to think of others in the same way they think of themselves, and they love God and put Him first in their lives. Try writing what might happen if a friend were prideful and boastful toward you. Think of your church calling or another opportunity you have to serve. Write one or two ways you will seek to be humble and avoid pride or boasting as you serve. Being lifted in pride is horrible and will turn people off! Don’t do it! Also in Psalms 119:165 it says, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”