Having grown up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have believed in agency my whole life. While our Heavenly Father has given us commandments to follow, He has also given us the ability to choose to follow those commandments or not. For some reason, it never occurred to me that choosing to repent has always been a part of our agency. In the October 2016 General Conference, Elder Dale G. Renlund said, “The reach of the Savior’s Atonement is infinite in breadth and depth, for you and for me. But it will never be imposed on us.” He then shared some verses from the Book of Mormon that explain how we have the ability to choose repentance.
“And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.
Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.”
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” ( 2 Nephi 2:5-6, 27)
The world has been talking about love for a long time. Who do we love? How do we express love? What does love look like? What does it not look like? We have been spending so much time telling others to love as we do, that we have forgotten to love those very people we are talking to. We have been spending so much time trying to convince everyone else that our way of love is the right way, that we have forgotten to follow the true example of love: Jesus Christ. We talk about love, but do we actually love? Do we follow Jesus Christ’s example?
Loving each other is a commandment:
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)
Have you ever had a really important question, or struggled with some piece of information? You are having a hard time finding an answer or coming to terms with that information, and the person(s) you reach out to say something to the effect of “Just have faith?” You know that’s the right answer, and of course you want to have faith; you want that desperately! But the answers to your questions or the need to receive clarity are so important that you struggle, and having faith – as important as it is – seems so far away and so difficult. I have felt those feelings before. If you haven’t had such an experience, let me create a scenario that will hopefully help you understand.
We’ll use a universal question: Is there life after death? As Latter-day Saints we know the answer is, yes. We have mountains of evidence to that yes: the accounts in the Bible and Book of Mormon from those whom Christ visited after He was resurrected, the visions of the Spirit World and the three kingdoms that many prophets have had, and the dreams that thousands of individuals have had of their loved ones and ancestors visiting them are a few examples. But what if there appeared to be zero evidence that life after death existed? What if the only answer to that question was, “Just have faith?” Wouldn’t that be so hard to hear? That is an extremely important question. Our entire earthly lives and the decisions we make are based on the answer to that question. That’s what it feels like with other important questions when the only answer is “Just have faith.”Continue reading →
Many people have shared stories with me over the years of times when they prayed, and the answer was “no.” Some were devastated when Heavenly Father answered in the negative; others just wondered why the answer was what it was. I was reading a story in the August 2015 Ensign, “The Example of a Faithful Father,” by Judson H. Flower, Jr., and it reminded me of a time in my own life when the answer was no.
I’d like to tell you a story about someone. We all know this person—or at least someone like him. As I tell you about him, picture the face of the man or woman in your life that is just like the man I’m going to tell you about.
I’ll give this man a name. Let’s call him Jake. Jake is smart, but doesn’t have a lot of formal education. His education came from the school of hard knocks. He’s a little rough around the edges. He’s not comfortable in formal situations. When he’s nervous, he has a tendency to talk a little too much and with a tad too much volume. Everyone likes Jake, but only those very close to him take him seriously.
Jake would have made a wonderful bishop because he has so much compassion for others. His organizational skills are difficult to beat. He works hard at everything he does, never complains, and doesn’t need a pat on the back or an award for proficiency. This man loves service. Jake would rather be serving someone than doing anything else. I believe he would give up eating if he could spend more time with a shut-in, or mow someone else’s lawn. Continue reading →
Those who leave the Church for whatever reason are still children of our Heavenly Father. It is not our responsibility to change their minds, only to love them—always—unconditionally. We must not desert them, whether they come back, or not. As we leave the ninety-nine and go after the one, we must remember that the one has agency which not even God will take away. We must respect that agency, as we love and respect them. We may (after heartfelt prayer) discuss and/or invite, but the decision to return is their own.
Every situation is different, and everyone has his or her own story. We need to be willing to listen—really listen—to their stories. A lot of assumptions are made about people who are not attending Church on Sunday, and most of those assumptions are wrong. We have never really dealt well with those who leave the fold. It is time to start having some serious and open dialog about it, with no one excluded from the conversation.
Mormon Women Stand would like to thank Nick Galieti from Fair Mormon for his interest in this important topic and for his willingness to help shed some light on the issue and get it out in the open for discussion. You may access the Fair Mormon interview here.
The last nine months, I’ve been studying the scriptures with a study buddy. We use an online site that gives us a daily reading assignment with a question to answer. We do the reading separately and answer the question. Then we discuss our answers and talk about what we read.
Recently, we had an interesting discussion about Alma 7:15: “Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you. . . .” The study question was: “How does fear affect the repentance process?”
My answer: “It is terrifying to think that in attempting to lay aside every sin that you will fail. It is actually easier to keep the status quo and accept the fact that you are not going to heaven than to think about failing in the attempt. Fear also affects our repentance when we fear man more than God. We fear what our peers think of us, and how our family perceives us.”
UPDATE: I wrote this as we were anticipating the death of our Senior Editor, Terrie Lynn Bittner. As we mourn her passing, we also celebrate her life. Terrie is home now, with Eternal Parents who love her. My sincere, heartfelt condolences go out to her entire family. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Once upon a time I wrote an article about grief in another venue. In order to make the article real and give it credibility, I shared examples of my own personal grief. That article came back to bite me, so it is with great ambivalence and trepidation that I write again on the same topic. I’m doing this because grief is something that we all experience in this mortal existence, and it is not just a one-time occurrence. Grief can be experienced many times in the course of a lifetime. It is an important topic to explore and to understand.
Grief, the sense of suffering that accompanies loss, is a common part of mortality as we lose loved ones or experience other tragedies. Because Jesus Christ has suffered the pains and afflictions of all mankind, we can be comforted and healed as we pray to the Father in His name and rely upon His Atonement (lds.org, Gospel Topics, “Grief”).
There you have it—grief is suffering. It is painful. It can be devastating and excruciating—but it can also be healed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The purposes of LDS General Conference are numerous, the greatest of which are to hear the timely words the Lord would have us hear as spoken and declared by those He has placed in His stead. The messages delivered by His chosen mouthpieces and servants can motivate us to alter our course and/or adjust our attitudes as needed. They can also help us strengthen our resolve to be “fixed in our purpose” in living the commandments and aligning ourselves with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Continue reading →
My family has always been big on traditions. I have often joked that if you do something once in my family, it is a tradition. It is wonderful to have family traditions, as they bring us closer together. With a little planning, we can use traditions to our advantage to strengthen testimonies and bring our families closer to God.
I was not raised in the typical LDS family. My family was converted when I was ten years old, and my parents did not stay active in church. We had a close-knit family with lots of traditions. After I married and had children, I realized that some of my favorite family traditions did not mesh with the LDS lifestyle. I was not active, so at first it wasn’t a problem for me. Over time, however, I wanted more for my children. I learned that some traditions just had to be modified or even scratched in order to further advance my family on the path to eternal life.