Tamara K. Anderson shares 3 actions to help us find peace amid times of chaos like the Coronavirus and racial division. Peace is the answer.
Why Seeking Peace is the Answer
How Do People Feel Peace in Extreme Circumstances?
Welcome to another episode of Tamara’s Takeaways. Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to share with you Suzanne Earl’s interview. I asked Suzanne an interesting question part of the way through the podcast. I asked if she ever felt overwhelmed by the thought that all her children have all these different allergies, EOE, and EGE? Did she ever wonder why God let this happen and feel completely overwhelmed by the challenges she faced?
Suzanne was very sweet. She explained that each of her four children’s diagnosis with different allergies and health challenges happened gradually and just built on each other. There were times she cried, Yes. But she pressed forward with an amazing amount of faith and courage. And I loved how she mentioned at the end that she spent time in prayer and that with God’s help and strength. Suzanne seemed so at peace.
How Do They Do That?
Do you ever wonder how people do that? How do people go through extreme circumstances and yet they are at peace with their lives? I’m going to cover that today and also give you three things we can do to achieve peace in our own lives.
And boy! Don’t we need peace now? The w0rld is a crazy place with the Coronavirus, racial division, and major disasters happening.
Today I’m going to tell you a story from my life about a hard situation I went through that I didn’t have answers for. And the one thing I found that helped me pull through with hope, and faith, because I think that’s what the world is really lacking right now. It’s hope and faith and peace and maybe love to go get through what we’re going through right now. Because it’s, it’s kind of crazy out there, guys.
My Story of Personal Distress
A Broken Engagement
So I’m going to take you back many, many moons ago, when Tamara was young and single. So it was a while ago. I met a guy that I really liked, and we dated for a while and we had a lot of fun. And he proposed and I said yes, and we were So excited. We were gonna get married and we, we dated, it was summertime we dated in the summer it was just so much fun. We went on several adventures together exploring nature.
It was great. I mean, we had bumps in the road, like every couple, but it it was it was a great adventure. And somewhere amidst all this adventure, he came to me one night and said, “Tamara, I just don’t love you anymore.” And I remember being so shocked, like, Wait, what? Because I knew I loved him. I was shocked that he all of a sudden just didn’t love me anymore. And so we just broke off the engagement and we still continued to date for a while.
And then finally he just said, “Okay, I just need a complete break.” It’s hard to get over somebody if you’re with them all the time.
My Broken Heart
And I felt like my heart had broken because I knew I loved him and I didn’t understand why this had happened. I felt like I had prayed and gotten an answer that it was good to get for us to get married and then it just didn’t work out. And so I was confused. I was so so heartbroken. I remember going to bed at night and just feeling the inside of my chest aching, so, so badly and waking up and the pain was still there. It wouldn’t go away. Looking back, with a little more hindsight, I dropped into a situational depression. I felt heartbroken and sad for several months. And I prayed and I prayed. I tried as hard as I could to draw near to God.
To help me process this, I spent a lot of time talking to his sister (a good friend) who still loved her brother too. I still loved him so much but the love just wasn’t returned.
Several months into this heartbreak, I remember was Sunday evening and just feeling a little unsettled again. And felt like I just needed to get out of the house. So, I got in the car and I drove over, they were having some Christmas lights at a local church and went there and there was a whole bunch of nativities set up. As I was walking along looking at the Christmas lights and the nativities, I happened to see my former fiancé. He was with another girl and he looked happy. And he hadn’t looked happy in a while.
And so I saw him and I said hi (because obviously you can’t avoid people). The interesting thing is that night while I was talking to him again, I suddenly felt this load, this weight, this pain that I had been feeling for months suddenly lift. It was gone–like magic.
And I remember going home that night, like on cloud nine. I was finally happy again. I was happy that he was happy. But the pain that I carried for so many months, was just gone. And I knew it was because God in His miraculous way–Jesus had saved me from my pain.
One Reason For the Pain
God had let me live with the pain and experience what heartache feels like because He knew I would need to know that. And shortly thereafter, I was serving a mission for my church and I met a lot of women who are going through heartache in their marriages. And even though I didn’t know what that felt like, I knew what heartache felt like, and I could cry with them and empathize with them. So sometimes God lets us pass through hard things. He respects the agency of others, and expects us to respect the agency of others.
Peace is the Key
But here’s the key. There is one thing in this world, the adversary cannot duplicate–He cannot replace. And that is the feeling of peace.
And that night looking at the Christmas lights, I finally felt peace. I felt peace. I felt joy. And I hadn’t felt those feeling in about six months. And it felt so good to feel peace again–to feel that hope that, I’m going to make it. It’s going to be okay.
And the burden and the broken heart were gone. completely gone. And this feeling of peace didn’t come the first time I prayed. Oh, no, it didn’t. I had to pray and study my scriptures and keep drawing close to God seeking constantly for help, for answers, and for strength. And He did give me strength.
But the blessing of peace took some time to get there.
This past Sunday, we had a really good discussion with our family about why hard things happen. And we also talked about what to do when we don’t have the answers. What do you do? How do you answer people who are like, “Oh, I prayed for God to solve this and help me and He didn’t.”
What do you do?
These are some really hard questions to ask. Especially when you’re in pain, or when someone you love is in pain. You want answers.
Two Things I Know
So I’m going to share with you two things I know for sure Then talk about three things you can do to pursue peace in your times of trial. But here’s some things that I am 100% sure of.
- God loves you. He just loves you. You don’t have to qualify for that love. You are his son or his daughter, and He simply loves you.
- Prayers aren’t answered right away, but they are heard.
I remember praying at that point when I was feeling so sad and discouraged and asking God why. And the answer I got was, “you’ll understand.”
I felt That whisper in my heart, “you’ll understand.”
Oh, and that’s a hard answer to get when you want to understand right now.
Why has Coronavirus hit? I don’t know.
Why are we having crazy changes in the world? I don’t know. I guess the Second Coming is coming, that’s all I can figure.
But, guys, sometimes we have to just keep praying and keep believing that no matter the hardship. God still loves us and is still hearing our prayers. I want you to cling to that hope that someday, like me, in my story, the burden will miraculously lift.
Some Day Understanding Will Come
And it wasn’t until years later when I met and married my husband that I went, “Oh, I get it now. I understand now.” But it wasn’t till years later. And there’s some things we won’t understand, probably until the next life.
So I know these two things. God loves you, and He hears your prayers. And the reason I know that is because he has heard and answered my prayers. Maybe not till years later, but He has.
There’s this really cool verse in the Old Testament and Psalm 34:15, and he says this, “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and His ears are open unto their cries.” So, at those times when you feel like God isn’t listening, He hears your cries. He sees your tears. So those are two things I know for sure, he loves you, and he hears your prayers, and because he loves you so much. He might answer your prayers in a way that you might not think is best for you. But he does hear and he does answer in his own time and in his own way.
3 Actions to Pursue Peace
Now, let’s get into the three things we can do to seek for peace. Because peace is what we need the most of when we’re struggling–peace and strength. There’s this really awesome verse I found in the Old Testament as well. And it is in Psalm 29:11.
“The Lord will give strength to his people. The Lord will bless His people with peace.”
Isn’t that perfect? God blesses us with two things strength and peace. And isn’t that what we need the very, very most when we’re feeling the very, very lowest, we need that strength to carry on another day, another hour another minute, and we need peace probably more than anything else in our heart and soul.
So you’re probably saying to yourself, “Alright, Tamara, I know I need strength. I know I need peace. How do I get it? Because all I feel is chaos and frustration and anxiety. And I’m not feeling strength or peace right now.
Here are three things I have learned in my life that have really helped me so so much. Before I share those things, there’s a verse I need to read to you. And it’s found right before a verse I just shared with you. It’s in Psalm 34:14.
“Depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.”
I love that verse. It’s concise, specific and beautiful. We want peace. We want that peace so badly. And God gives us some really great clues there in that verse.
Action # 1. “Depart from Evil and Do Good”
Basically, God’s inviting us to do better–to keep his commandments. Because if we keep His commandments, God promises us His Spirit. And His Spirit is how we feel peace.
So we need to do good and be better. Keep those commandments written in our minds and in our hearts so that they come out in our actions.
Are we perfect? Heck no. We make mistakes all the time. I do and I know you do. We all make mistakes. And so that is why God’s first invitation before He sends peace is for us to change and improve a little bit–To do good, so that He can bless us with His Spirit and we can feel peace.
Action #2. Pray and Read God’s Word Daily
The second thing I’d love to invite you to do is to take some time to read and pray every day.
Praying is how we communicate with God–how we tell Him all the pains in our heart, all our concerns, all of our anguish, and all of our joys. That’s how we communicate with him.
But often it is through reading his word that He communicates back with us. So it’s a two fold process, reading and praying. It’s how that communication happens. Sometimes you’ll hear a thought in your mind or in your heart, like “you’ll understand,” like I did during my story.
But often, it’s just little light bulb moments of inspiration while we’re reading. And so if your mind gets a little distracted while you’re reading God’s word, maybe he’s trying to teach you something. Now if you’re thinking about your shopping list or something like that, that’s probably not what He wants you to be thinking. But sometimes when I’m listening to something inspirational, like an inspirational talk or I’m reading my scriptures, all of a sudden, I’ll have this thought that I need to do something.
And that’s a thought coming from God. He’s answering these prayers. So pay attention to those thoughts that come to you while you’re praying and while you’re reading, because that is how God communicates with us.
Action #3. Keep the Sabbath
The next thing we can do that I’d love to invite you to do that has brought me so much peace while I have been stuck at home. So much of the time during this pandemic, is to make Sunday different than every other day of the week.
I don’t know about you, but I have found that my days have kind of run together. It’s hard for me to remember what day of the week it is because I’ve spent so much of this time at home, and so much of it is spent in my office or helping my children. And so, I have learned the value of treating Sunday different. That is one of God’s commandments, and it’s a sign of this covenant between God and His people, that they will keep his Sabbath.
And how you do that is up to you.
How I Keep the Sabbath
I’m just going to share with you the blessings I found and what I do to make Sunday different. So on Sunday, I do my best to connect with God. We have a little church meeting in our home since we can’t go to church yet. Then we have a gospel discussion as a family. It’s not very long, but it’s good for my children and myself to take a break from our electronics. We’re not on our phones, we’re we’re talking about God’s things.
Then the trick is to keep the rest of that day–the Sabbath–different than the other days of the week.
One thing I do to make myself remember that it’s Sunday is I put a skirt on. And I know not everybody loves skirts (and they’re not my favorite things to wear either) but it helps remind me that this day is different and that I should be behaving differently. There have been studies done that show that how you dress impacts how you act. So if you dress a little differently, maybe put on a collared shirt on Sunday or a skirt or nice slacks you’ll behave differently on Sunday and then do good that day.
I also never did any schoolwork on Sunday–even when I was in college, because I needed Sunday be different. I needed the break. And I found that getting that break was like a breath of fresh air every week because I knew I didn’t have to work. I knew I didn’t have to do schoolwork, and it was a true break. And that helps me feel peace even today living those same principles.
Summary of Action Items for Peace
So, those are the three things I wanted to share with you that I have found to be huge and instrumental in feeling God’s strength and peace when I needed it the most.
First, realizing I need to change and be better “depart from evil, do good” as it said in the verse of scripture I read to you. do a little better so that we can feel his spirit so that we can feel that peace.
Second, pray and read, pray to communicate with God. Read to get answers from him.
And third, make Sunday different. Make it a day to connect with God. Don’t do any work.
Peace From God is the Answer
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
So my friends, the answer is peace. It doesn’t matter the heartache, trial or tribulation. If you can feel the peace of God then you know He has got it all under control and it will all work out in the end.
Walking With Nathan
Alright, let’s wrap it up with something fun. I’m going to paint a visual picture for you.
Every morning, my cute Nathan (my 21-year-old son that has low functioning autism) walks with me. We have a pretty strict schedule that we adhere to, because it keeps him happy. We go on a walk every day we follow the same path because you got to keep things the same with kiddos on the autism spectrum.
I bring our dog and Nathan will sometimes skip ahead of me on the path. Sometimes he is slow, but this week has been a happy week. He has been awake, happy, skippy, and loud.
Nathan is much taller than I am. And as he skips down the trail and our dog has to stop and pee and sniff everything. So Nathan will get about 20 to 30 feet in front of me and I end up pulling our dog along saying, “Come on! I’ve got to catch up to Nathan.” And so I literally have to jog to catch up to him lately.
Nathan has just been so happy and he’ll sing songs as we’re walking down the trail. I know people look at us funny. And you know what? I’m totally fine with that. Because he makes me laugh.
Here is a photo of Nathan on our walk:
But find joy and little things like walking. Nathan sure dies. He loves that it’s part of his schedule. And yes, he hasn’t gone hardly anywhere since this whole pandemic thing started. But he finds joy in walking and in getting out in nature and it brings me joy to see him so happy.
And so guys, our joy can spread to others once we feel it. It’s amazing how magnetizing and how uplifting being around someone who is happy is. it’s just it’s so rejuvenating. It’s so fun. And and you do you just love being around them.
And I’m not saying Nathan’s happy all the time. He’s not. but but being around him when he’s happy is like being around someone who just has a sunshiny personality. And we all love being around that type of person.
So be that type of person. And if you don’t feel strong enough to be that type of person, then maybe you just reflect the sun (The Son). Reflect the light that comes from God. Because that’s the beautiful, peaceful light that we’re all looking for at this time of craziness and chaos.
Anyway, that is my quick episode for today. Remember to seek for peace, pray for it and cling to it. Once you have it. Hope that you can get there because you will and God hasn’t given up on you. I promise you that. So don’t give up on yourself. Hope on.