BYU-I education week: 'Where can I turn for peace?'
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Crowds covered the Brigham Young University-Idaho campus July 28-30 for the annual education week conference. More than 2,000 participants from around the country attended the three-day event, enjoying the sunshine and some of the more than 400 classes offered on a variety of topics. This year's conference theme came from the hymn, "Where can I Turn for Peace?"
"What our hope is that [participants] found a way to find peace," said Alan Young. "That there was something in one of the talks or how they felt about something that gave them a sense of peace. ... We have to deal with so many things in life with family, with our work, with the economy, with everything that goes on, that our spirits can be kind of down trodden and we can feel like we aren't going to make it. But, if we know where to turn for peace, everything will be fine."
Class options for the conference varied in subject manner related to the theme, and provided learning for people of all ages and seasons of life. A youth track specifically addressed topics youth of the Church encounter in their daily lives, while the mother's track provided instruction while still allowing mothers to bring their baby to the class.
Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy spoke during the Friday devotional. In his address, he talked of the ultimate peace that comes from following the "Prince of Peace."
"We live in a world where peace seems to be elusive," Elder Johnson said. "There are a number of things in this world that cause turmoil and conflict or that can undermine personal peace. ... War, armed conflict and terrorism are constantly taking a toll somewhere in the world, and crime, gang violence and other illegal activities affect the peace in cities and towns. ... Some threats to our peace are more individual. Physical or emotional problems, pain, personal debt, addictions, fear, worry for others and sins — either our own or someone else's that affect us — can seem to obstruct a peaceful outlook in our individual lives."
Yet despite these obstacles, individuals are able to find peace in this world through looking to the Prince of Peace, Elder Johnson said. His teachings contain the keys to living in peace individually and as a world, and through the Prince of Peace, individuals are able to find the gift of inner peace.
"Inner peace is part of the fruit of the Spirit," Elder Johnson said. "Peace is a gift. We don't determine the conditions upon which this gift is given. He sets the terms. Sometimes our quest for peace becomes so focused on the peace itself that we forget it is a gift that is one of the fruits of a righteous life. Our best course for finding peace is to live righteously — to keep our covenants. This is the only course that leads to that inner peace we all desire."
Individuals are able to find true peace as a result of righteous living, he said.
"There are also many worthy pursuits that are good and helpful, but if they take precedence over a worthy life they never lead to that true peace we seek," he said. "With the gift of peace there isn't a promise that all our problems and challenges will dissolve according to a time line we set. We can actually have peace in the midst of trials."
Looking to the example of Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail, Elder Johnson taught that peace can come, even if circumstances or surroundings are difficult.
"Sometimes peace comes in the most trying circumstances," he said. "We have each experienced this when we have been in very difficult times trying to do the right things and have been blessed with a powerful feeling of peace and love. There are many examples of this in the scriptures."
No matter the reaction of others, individuals are able to find peace as they are faithful and diligent, even when others they love — including members of their own families — choose to wander from the truth.
"Those who choose unrighteousness cannot experience this inner peace," he said. "Even when we are trying to live a righteous life, if we give in to temptations we can damage the inner peace we want and need. ... Each of us is aware of specific temptations we struggle with that open the door for the adversary to have place in our heart. The more we can resist these temptations, the less influence the adversary has to destroy our peace."
It is through living righteously and turning to the Savior's Atonement that individuals are able to stay faithful and calm their souls.
"There may be times in our own lives when we are in stormy seas with high winds and our ship may seem to be taking on water," he said. "We may be tempted to ask, 'Carest thou not that I perish?' We know He has the power to calm any storm. Sometimes He calms the actual storms we are facing, but other times instead of calming the wind and sea we face, He instead gives us great calm in our souls. ...
"No matter how daunting the challenges are in our lives or in the world around us, we know we can have peace through the power of the infinite Atonement, because Christ overcame the world. Faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement engenders the hope of deliverance and the promise of a better world to come."