Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Challenge to Become

This week I was able to read a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks entitled The Challenge to Become. What a fantastic message. It made me stop and think about what I have become, and what I am becoming, with my life. Am I doing good works? Yes. That's nice. But am I Becoming more like my Savior? That is more important. Elder Oaks said:
"The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become." 

Elder Oaks relates a parable to help us understand this idea of Becoming.
 "A wealthy father knew that if he were to bestow his wealth upon a child who had not yet developed the needed wisdom and stature, the inheritance would probably be wasted. The father said to his child:
“All that I have I desire to give you—not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours.”
This parable parallels the pattern of heaven. The gospel of Jesus Christ promises the incomparable inheritance of eternal life, the fulness of the Father, and reveals the laws and principles by which it can be obtained."

As I think of my journey that I am taking, yes, I would like it to be a hero's journey- a journey where I can do the most good.. But what I want most from my life is to Become like my Heavenly Father. All that He has is ours. It has been ours from the very beginning. We lose our birthright, our inheritance, because of the choices that we make.

I love the challenge that Elder Oaks lays before us. He says:
"Now is the time for each of us to work toward our personal conversion, toward becoming what our Heavenly Father desires us to become. As we do so, we should remember that our family relationships—even more than our Church callings—are the setting in which the most important part of that development can occur. The conversion we must achieve requires us to be a good husband and father or a good wife and mother. Being a successful Church leader is not enough. Exaltation is an eternal family experience, and it is our mortal family experiences that are best suited to prepare us for it."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

First Steps on the Unknown Path

Sometimes I feel that God is directing me on a certain path, but I am not sure that I am ready to get on that path yet. I am not sure what I am afraid of more - being successful at it, or failing all together. I see, the little things, He put on my path that show me the direction that he wants me to go, but I don't see the outcome of the journey.

I think I have come to the point where I need to make that "Leap of Faith" and let the Lord know that I am willing to accept whatever he has in store for me. The Spirit is willing. The Flesh is Afraid! I know that once I get on this path, there is no turning back and life will never be the same. I think I need to have the Faith in Myself that I can become this person the Lord wants me to become. I can lead the way he wants me to lead, and I can build up his kingdom the way he wants me to.

I have been reading over Elder Bednar's talk Your Whole Soul as an Offering Unto Him, and I have been likening it to what I have been learning in my class this semester- to be on the Hero's Journey. Elder Bednar discusses the differences between Sacrifice and Consecration. "Sacrifice requires us to willingly offer anything and everything that we possess for the sake of the gospel of the Savior—including our character and reputation; our honor and applause; our good name among men; our houses, our lands, and even our families; all things, including our very lives if need be. 

Consecration is related to but different from sacrifice.  The word consecrate means to develop and “dedicate to a sacred purpose.”  Sacrifice is what I will offer, surrender, yield, or give up.  Consecration, on the other hand, is to fully develop and dedicate to a sacred purpose.  

As we live the law of consecration, we are willing not only to offer anything and everything we possess for the sake of the gospel, but we also promise to develop and devote our best selves—our time, talents, and strength—to the building of the kingdom of God on the earth.  

Consecration includes and encompasses sacrifice and much more.  We are not only willing to offer up our possessions, but we will become the best we can be and assist however possible in building the kingdom in righteous ways.  

We will not only die for the gospel, but we will develop ourselves and live for the gospel." 

Developing ourselves and others to help build up the kingdom of God. And most importantly LIVE for the gospel. What a great goal to have in life! But in order for me to do that, I need to gather up my courage and my faith and take that first step on the Hero's Journey...

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Images Reflected

It was my turn this month to prepare the presidency message for Relief Society. I feel impressed to share what I wrote here on my blog:

My Dear Sisters,

If there is one message I can bring to you this month, it would be this: You Are Not Alone!
Your Heavenly Father loves you! He understands your needs, your challenges, and where you are on our pathway back home to Him. Many times we try to disguise what we are feeling or hide it from others. Maybe we don’t know how to express what we feel. Maybe we feel guilty about how we are feeling. Or maybe we think others won’t understand what we are going through. Whatever our reasons, know that you are not alone. We are all on this journey to return back home together. We are here to help one another, to strengthen one another, to lift one another. And when the time comes when we feel we cannot go another step, or do one more thing, we are here to help carry one another, until we are ready to move forward.

We are daughters of God! He has promised us, that if we endure this journey, all that He has will be ours. Elder Robert D. Hales said, “In the same way we cross a bridge or follow a path, we live the gospel one step at a time-- “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30). The  more steps we take, the more clearly we understand that life on earth is, in fact, a journey to a familiar destination. We have been in the presence of our Heavenly Father and His Son already. We have felt Their love and we have loved Their light already. And now we are walking in that light--following that light-- back to Them.” (Hales, Robert D. Return: Four Phases of Our Mortal Journey Home. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2010.)

One day, after really struggling with the things that were going on in my life I wrote the following words:

Images Reflected
are not always what they appear.

On the outside
a canopy of disguises covers
the innermost strugglings of one’s soul.

Images Reflected
do not portray the ongoing battles
that weaken the spirit.

Personal wrestlings for
Spiritual Growth often conflict
with worldly desires.

Choices are made.
Consequences Final. Although it is hard,
I know why I struggle.

One day, I shall return
Home. To My Father.
Upon myself, I hope to find

His Image Reflected.

Sisters, please remember that life is a journey that we are all taking together. How glorious it will be, when we finish our journey, and see each other again, back home in the presence of Our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, and we truly see in ourselves  their image reflected.
This week in one of my classes I got the chance to listen to a talk by Jan Newman. I was impressed by the advice his Calculus teacher gave them one day after finishing up his lecture. He said something like this:  Some of you may make a lot of money in  your lives, and may think that is what the Lord wants you to do to help build up the kingdom. But really, you are wrong. What he really wants you to do is your Home Teaching...

I think sometimes we think we need to do great and important things to build up the Kingdom of God like earn lots of money, or have a prestigious job or company where everyone knows you are a Mormon. God requires from us a willing heart and mind, and a desire to do his work. We don't need to be Bishops, or Relief Society Presidents to make a difference in the kingdom. We need to be good visiting teachers. Good Home Teachers. Good neighbors.