Light the World Day 19: Jesus Calmed the Storm | Miranda Anderson
We're so honored to welcome guest-poster Miranda Anderson, and for her beautiful post about how we can calm the storm as the Savior did. These are words we needed so much, and we're so grateful that she would take the time to share them with all of us. You can connect with Miranda on Instagram here, on her blog here, and at her "just-opening" shop here! All images by Carli Rene.
Day 19 of the Light the World campaign is labeled “Jesus Calmed the Storm and So Can You” and includes service ideas that point towards humanitarian service, such as finding disaster relief opportunities or reviewing emergency plans. Having lived through two record-breaking (though not life-threatening) snowstorms while living on the East coast, I appreciate the value of reaching out with first-hand service for those for whom the literal storms are raging.
However, when I spotted “Jesus Calmed the Storm” on my calendar, my mind immediately turned to the storms that sometimes blow through my own home. With three young kids, a full-time work-from-home job, a busy husband, a new puppy, and a whole lot of big ideas, there are moments of whirlwind that can escalate into what feels more like a hurricane. Loving words are gone out the window with the wind as the toddler’s temper flares and mama’s patience weakens. Even though we aspire to fill our home with kindness and set examples of healthy coping skills and conflict resolution, every so often we come up short. And when we fail, the rain comes tumbling down into a storm. Our storm.
In the Gospel of Mark, the apostles at one point find themselves at sea with the Master during a storm, the waves crashing and the wind racing. And “[Jesus] said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4: 39-40). When I read this account, I am struck by two things:
First, His words are the vehicle that calms the storm. The words Jesus chooses and the way he says them make the difference. They matter, and they change the situation immediately from crazy to calm.
Second, Christ’s call to action is “Peace, be still.” How often in the middle of a storm at home do I feel like I need to fight against the wind and the waves, to DO something to fix it all. With shoe laces untied, coats missing, spilled cereal crunching underfoot and my favorite slippers chewed completely through (true story), my first reaction has not always been to “be still.”
However, about three years ago, my thought process began to change as I was preparing to teach a Young Women’s class about “words.” While the lesson manual leaned more towards avoiding gossip and keeping clean language, the inspiration I was granted for myself was that we can calm the storms in my own home by being still and speaking softly. Not only choosing carefully the words that I said, but also the tone and volume I used when I said them.
Although it felt impossible, I committed to never yell or raise my voice again. No matter what. I gave myself some guidelines based on what I recognized as my triggers—like when the kids were in a different part of the house and I needed to tell them something. Or when I was upset because we were late somewhere. I created a plan of action that included stopping to look in their eyes (because I’d have to be close to them) and not worrying so much about details like punctuality. I took it one day at a time, recommitting each new day to stop, look into their eyes, and speak softly. Somehow, it felt more manageable that way. And after two weeks, I taught my lesson to the Young Women, and I was able to bear testimony of the peace and calm that had come into our home because of speaking softly.
I have not been perfect. Of course not, none of us can be. But I realized that “never” was a big commitment when I made it, and falling short on occasion has not deterred me from refocusing and starting again each day with a determination to speak softly. Not only has the entire climate of our home changed and become more lovely than before, but I have increased my ability to connect with my children and be their calm when they are individually upset and raging.
Today, as we Light The World and follow the Savior’s example, I am going to pull each of my children close and quietly tell them why I love them. With each conflict that arises today (cue every time I say “no” to anything, or ask anyone to put their shoes on), I will be the calm in the inevitable storm, and be a safe place my children can come to and feel the peace of the Savior.
I believe in the power of words, and in the power of being a peaceful presence to calm the storms at home. What a difference it makes to follow the example of the Savior in choosing words wisely, speaking softly, and being still.