Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Transforming Power of Faith and Character

(find the talk here)

It has been a while since I have studied the conference talks (or the scriptures in general) and my strength has suffered for it.

Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk about faith and character was probably the best thing for me to read right now. I’ve been discouraged lately about the direction my life is going, and I’ve been trying desperately to find my new normal – how I want the pattern of my life to be. I’ve tried several different “plans” but nothing seems to bring me peace and comfort. I still feel disoriented, stressed out, overworked, and a distinct inability to manage all of my responsibilities.

Elder Scott teaches us “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.” I want to be a great wife, a great mother, and a great teacher. So, if I want to become these things, I  need to consistently be these things each day. It’s like eating an elephant – one bite at a time. We build character one day at a time. Testimony is “the very essence of character woven from threads born of countless correct decisions.”

As a wife and mother, there are many choices that I have to make. Choices about how to use my time. Choices about how to respond to others’ actions (probably one of the most difficult aspects of being a wife and a mother is that I don’t have any control over how my husband and children act. I can only control my response), choices about how to teach my children, how to raise them. And then there are the more mundane choices (not to be overlooked) what to feed my family for dinner, what clothes to dress my children in, the list goes on.

However, Elder Scott reminds us that our “happiness on earth as well as [our] eternal salvation require many correct decisions, none of which is difficult to make.” Well, there go all of my excuses for poor choices. Elder Scott talks a lot about faith and acting in faith, listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and following those promptings.

There were a lot of real gems in this talk, and if I didn’t have my sweet children to take care of, I might write about more of them, but I encourage you to read the talk and ponder on its meaning for you personally.

How has faith shaped your choices? Do you feel your character growing as you follow the promptings of the spirit? As you act in faith?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Never Leave Him

(find the talk here)

Elder Neil A. Anderson’s talk made me think hard about my own devotion to the Savior, and about what I am doing to make sure that I never leave Him.

Elder Anderson talks about the disciples who left the Savior after following Him, because they couldn’t believe that He was the Son of God. The Savior then turned to His Apostles and asked if they were also going to leave Him. “In my own mind I have answered that question many times: ‘Absolutely not! Not me! I will never leave Him! I am here forever!’ I know you have answered the same way.

Elder Anderson hit the nail right on the head – I, too, would answer that question with “Never!” But I wonder how many people have answered the same way, later to leave the path? “Some we love and admire slip from the strait and narrow path and ‘[walk] no more with him.’” My brother and sister-in-law would be in this category for me. I love and admire them, and I was certain they would never leave Him – and yet, they did. I cannot make any judgments about why they left Him, but I can definitely renew my commitment to strengthen my own resolve to never leave Him.

Which leaves us with the question, “How do we develop the faith and strength to never leave Him?”

Elder Anderson speaks of becoming as  a little child. For the Savior said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Why as a child? Because of these two words: “offended and ashamed.”

Offense comes in many costumes and continually finds its way onstage. People we believe in disappoint us. We have unanticipated difficulties. Our life doesn’t turn out exactly the way we were expecting. We make mistakes, feel unworthy, and worry about being forgiven. We wonder about a doctrinal issue. We learn of something spoken from a Church pulpit 150 years ago that bothers us. Our children are treated unfairly. We are ignored or underappreciated. It could be a hundred things, each very real to us at the time.

Again, Elder Anderson gets it just right. I can’ t tell you how many of those things have happened to me. Why didn’t I leave the Savior (or the Church) when those things happened? Why didn’t I get offended? Because I heeded the Lord’s advice to Parley P. Pratt when He said, “walk such things under your feet ... [and] God Almighty shall be with you.”

The second part Elder Anderson talked about was shame – being ashamed. “There may be times we feel uncomfortable as the fingers of score mock and dismiss what is sacred to us. President Thomas S. Monson warned, ‘Unless the roots of your testimony are firmly planted, it will be difficult for you to withstand the ridicule of those who challenge your faith.’”

One of my favorite scripture masteries from high school Seminary was Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth...”

Will we understand everything? Of course not. We will put some issues on the shelf to be understood at a later time.

Will everything be fair? It will not. We will accept some things we cannot fix and forgive others when it hurts.

Will we feel separated on occasion from those around us? Absolutely.

will we be astonished at time to see the anger a few feel toward the Lord’s Church and their efforts to steal the struggling faith of the weak? Yes. But this will not deter the growth of destiny of the Church, nor need it impede the spiritual progress of each of us as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Will you never leave Him? Will you become as a child? Do you get offended and ashamed of the gospel? Of being a disciple of Jesus Christ? How do you deal with unfairness, disappointment, and feelings of separation?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Temple Mirrors of Eternity: A Testimony of Family

(find the talk here)

Elder Gerrit W. Gong’s talk was funny, nice, and simple. He told a cute story about sending fresh homemade bread to his son and his companions in the MTC. Then he went on to talk about his ancestors.

My interest in my husband’s ancestry has been peaked recently, due to increased contact with his paternal grandmother. My husband was adopted by his stepfather at a young age, and never really knew or had contact with is biological father. Nevertheless, his genetics are predominantly from his biological father’s side, and I can even see a lot of my own children in that family – which dates back to the early pioneer settlers.

Elder Gong spoke of these mirrors in the  sealing rooms of our temples. The mirrors are positioned across the room from each other so that when you look into one of the mirrors, it seems to be that you can see repetitions of yourself forever and ever. We believe that temple ordinances seal us to our family and more importantly, to Heavenly Father for eternity. As long as we are sealed to each other (and to Heavenly Father) in the temple, and we live faithful to those covenants, our posterity will be never ending.

I liked this comment from Elder Gong:

The world pursues enlightened self-interest. Yet the power is not in us to save ourselves. But is is in Him. Infinite and eternal, only our Savior’s Atonement transcends time and space to swallow up death, anger, bitterness, unfairness, loneliness, and heartbreak.

My favorite part of the atonement isn’t always the part that redeems me – although that part is truly the most significant part. Usually the part that comforts me the most is that part that swallows up pain, anger, unfairness, loneliness, and heartbreak – because I have seen a lot of that in my life.

Elder Gong says “Sometimes things go wrong even though we have done our very best.” I’m sure parents everywhere have seen this and can testify of its truthfulness. Parents lose their children to the evil influences of the world. Parents become unable to bear their own children. Parents lose children in death before them. Parents lose a spouse through death or unfaithfulness or divorce. “When we remember [the Savior], He can stand with us ‘at all times and in all things and in all places that [we] may be in.’ His ‘faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.’ In drawing to Him, our Savior also draws us to our Father in Heaven.”

What do the temple mirrors make you think about? Have you experienced things going wrong  even when you have done your very best? How do you rely on the Saviors atonement for more than just redemption from your sins?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...