While skating during a family Christmas party this past holiday season, I carried our two-year old granddaughter Grace in my arms and glided around the circumference of the pond. As a confident skater, I was cautious but not worried about falling. My speed must have demonstrated the opposite to Grace when she squeezed my arm and called out, “Slow down, Grandma! I’m feeling crazy!”
How often have I cried out in my prayers something to that effect? “Heavenly Father, things are spinning out of control. I feel like I can’t do this!” My thoughts often echo Grace’s. Things need to slow down. Life seems crazy. Each of us can take comfort when we feel these sentiments as we reflect on counsel from our prophet and other leaders.
President Russell M. Nelson has said: “We live in a most difficult dispensation. Challenges, controversies, and complexities swirl around us. These turbulent times were foreseen by the Savior. He warned us that in our day the adversary would stir up anger in the hearts of men and lead them astray. Yet our Heavenly Father never intended that we would deal with the maze of personal problems and social issues on our own” (Russell M. Nelson, “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2017).
Recognizing that we have a Saviour who can help us navigate these days and who wants us to feel peace and hope despite earthly whirlwinds is the best way to slow down and feel less “crazy.” Investing time and energy in discovering who He is and how He extends help to each person individually will provide the knowledge needed to move forward surely and safely with His support. With this powerful understanding we will then see and recognize His miracles in our lives.
Recently in a broadcast with Elder Jeffrey Holland and Sister Patricia Holland, Sister Holland outlined a wonderful formula for how to gain this type of much needed understanding. After expressing the need to simplify our lives in general, she tesitifed “that miracles will come when we slow down, when we calm down and when we kneel down”. (Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia T. Holland, “Elder and Sister Holland Share a New Year’s Message of Hope in Christ” [worldwide devotional for Young Adults, January 3, 2023], newsroom.Churchof JesusChrist.org). Through these actions, miracles will be clearly manifest.
The psalmist said it perfectly. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10).
Mary, the mother of Christ “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
Learning to trust that God knows “the details of the details of the details of our lives” (Chi Hong (Sam) Wong, “They Cannot Prevail; We Cannot Fall,” Liahona, May 2021) will help us slow down mentally and physically.
We cannot do everything, and because of Him, we don’t need to. We can turn our hearts and minds over to Him. “[His] yoke is easy and [His] burden is light”. (Matthew 11:30).
In the 2019 Pioneer Day Concert of July 29, 2019, a beautiful song was performed with lyrics that perfectly describe the experience we can have as we learn to trust in Him and in His plan. “Slow Down” written by Chuck Girard, was sung by Sissel, [Sissel Kyrkjebo], an acclaimed international Norwegian soprano. The perfection of the message can warm every heart and give hope, calm, and inspiration (2019 Pioneer Day Concert with Sissel, July 20 2019). Access this rendition as a gift to yourself and find peace.
In the Book of Mormon, Alma and his people definitely lived in a time of turmoil and fear as King Noah and his armies pursued them. Alma taught and encouraged them to find hope and peace in Christ. “Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but that they should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them. Therefore they hushed their fears” (Mosiah 23:27-28).
“Knowledge of the Savior’s protecting watchcare enabled the people [Alma’s people] to hush their own fears” (David A. Bednar, “Therefore They Hushed Their Fears,” Ensign, May 2015).
Being able to hush our own fears is done through trusting the Lord. It may also help to find ways that encourage “spiritual deep breathing.” It may take practice. Perhaps finding a powerful word, a quiet place, a peaceful song, or a comforting scripture will help create a connection with heaven and remind us of who we are.
Sister Michelle D. Craig [First Counselor in the Young Women general presidency] shared a quote published in 1936 by V. A. Demant [theologian, Anglican priest, writer].
“Tell people only what they must do and you will numb them into despair. But tell them what they are, of their dignity as made in the image of God... tell them that they can do all things through Christ... and you will help to revive hope in this dispirited generation” (Michelle D. Craig, “Our World Needs Hope” [Instagram, January 12, 2023]. Hope calms us.
Prayer is our lifeline and our 24/7 connection with heaven. There’s no busy signal, no dropped calls and no poor service. As a parent, in a small way I can imagine how important this principle must have been to our heavenly parents as they contemplated what this earthly experience would look like for each of us and how important being connected with them would be.
A close friend whose daughter just returned from serving a mission texted me the day before she came home and said, “How I long for our conversations on P Days [preparation days]! How I anticipate her letters about her experiences and all she is learning and ways I can help, even though I am so far away. I think about heaven and how our prayers must feel the same to our loving heavenly parents, how they must long for our safe return as well!”
Kneeling down shows our gratitude, respect, and deep desire to be connected with heaven. If the opportunity to kneel is not available, pray anyways. Praying is always the answer.
Nephi’s counsel in the Book of Mormon holds true today. “But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul” (2 Nephi 32:9).
When Grace alerted me to her fear as we skated around the pond, I immediately slowed down, then stopped, and calmed her fears. We eventually knelt together to catch our breath. These simple actions quickly brought peace to her.
These same steps can centre us and help us catch our breath through finding peace in Christ. He stands waiting to meet us where we are and to provide the comfort we desperately need.