There are many voices that shout for our attention in the world, but there is only one voice worth listening to.
President N. Eldon Tanner spoke about “Obeying the Right Voice,” causing me to think about the voices I heed. He told story after story of those who listen to the wrong voices. Those voices always end in unhappiness.
For example, he talked about some prison inmates. One inmate, speaking to youth, said, “I’m 45 years old now and I know I’m never going to see the streets again. We’re all dying to get out and you guys are pounding on the doors, saying ‘Let us in.’” Prisons are full of people who listened to the wrong voices but wish now they had listened to the right one.
All of us are born with the Light of Christ. This is a quiet voice that tells us right from wrong. We all know the difference between the two choices. Voices call to us from all directions. Some are cunning, others are distracting. By listening to the Light of Christ within us, we can make choices that bring us happiness.
“Stop talking! Just be quiet for a minute!” I yelled from the front seat of the car. “The next one to talk gets to walk the rest of the way.” This empty threat came from pure desperation. I just couldn’t handle another moment of bickering, whining and fault-finding from my children. Our family trip was suppose to bring us together, not tear us apart. Yet there we were, living in our own version of self-induced torture because my children couldn’t stop arguing!
Weeks before, as our family prepared for our trip, my husband and I painted our children a picture of all the wonderful things they would see, learn and experience. We took special care to pack treats, games, books and movies to keep them entertained and peaceful while traveling. We wanted them to have a unique experience that bonded our family and created treasured memories for the years ahead. But in spite of the many plans and preparations, we found ourselves battling over issues such as… “Her knees keep touching mine!” “She won’t stop humming.” And… my favorite… “I can’t stand listening to her breathe.” They had obviously forgotten the bigger picture.
Why do my kids do this? Why are they so quick to find fault with each other at one moment and then be best friends at another? Why can’t they perceive the bigger picture that I can see? Why is it so hard to use their family journey to strengthen and serve each other?
Will they ever grow out of it?
The answer is, yes! They will grow out of it as they mature enough to put those little things like knees touching, humming and breathing in perspective.
Perspective. Isn’t that what love and understanding are all about? When we see our world as our Savior sees it, we can take hold of a deeper truth that allows us to better assess, or judge what we are experiencing in ourselves and others. The old idiom, “the devil is in the details” is quite true. When we focus on the small details instead of perceiving the big picture, we become like siblings on a road trip… finding faults and taking offense… just for the fun of it.
“Remember the Lord’s promise: “I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.” I love that assurance. Joy that fills our souls brings with it an eternal perspective in contrast to day-to-day living. That joy comes as peace amidst hardship or heartache. It provides comfort and courage, unfolds the truths of the gospel, and expands our love for the Lord and all God’s children. Although the need for such blessings is so great, in many ways the world has forgotten and forsaken them.“
In this session of conference, we get to catch up with probably one of the most well-known talks ever given: Spiritual Crocodiles. Likely, you or your children saw this video many times in Seminary. It is well-known, and always worth spending some time talking about why its message is so important.
Incidentally, in this talk, Boyd K. Packer wasn’t kidding when he said he knew about the many birds of our world. He was an exceptional artist and he specialized in bird carvings.
Detail from President Boyd K. Packer’s 1991 woodcarving “Broad-Tailed Hummingbird with Indian Paintbrush.” Photo by Jason Swensen.
And with this extra knowledge, he admitted to still being skeptical, at the time, of those who knew additional knowledge concerning life and death.
Likening this knowledge to the prophet, who is most concerned about our spiritual safety and salvation is easy, and easily ignored. Sometimes, the best teacher is Hindsight. Unfortunately, we are in a spiritual life and death battle and Hindsight can be a whirlpool we may never escape from.
Several years ago during a visiting teaching appointment, my companion said something that really changed how I pray. She said (paraphrasing), “I was taught that when we pray, we don’t have to fill the entire prayer up with talking. We should pause in between phrases so that we can feel the Holy Ghost and be guided on what to say next. We get more out of prayer, and we truly say what we need to say.”
I felt strongly impressed to follow that advice. As I started to pray that way, I noticed my attitude about prayer changed, my relationship with Heavenly Father strengthened, and my ability to receive personal revelation increased.
I’ve always known that prayer is important, and I believe in the power of prayer, but I really struggled to make my prayers personal. Once during a youth activity, we learned different examples of people in the scriptures praying all day to Heavenly Father (see Luke 6:12, Enos 1:4, Mosiah 21:14). I remember our leader telling us that we should be able to pray like that some day. She said that our relationship with Heavenly Father and our ability to pray should get to that point. I remember thinking, “I’ll never be able to pray like that. I’m a failure at prayer.” For most of my life, I generally prayed using memorized and repeated phrases. I believed in prayer, I knew it was important, but I didn’t feel that I was “good” at praying. Continue reading →
I love light. But let’s talk about darkness. I don’t ever remember being afraid of the dark as a child. I mean, no more than usual. Were you? Admittedly, it’s uncomfortable to be in the dark. Even in our own homes, a familiar place. When it’s dark, we feel uneasy. We bump into objects that we know are there but we now can’t see. They become obstacles to us. We have a difficult time recognizing our surroundings and we wonder if there are things hiding there that might GET US!
In the dark our imaginations shift into high gear. Reality becomes distorted to us, and we can begin to see in our minds things that aren’t really there. We can be easily fooled in the dark. We might be presented one thing but told it is something entirely different. Who can forget sticking a hand into that bowl of peeled grapes and being told they were eyeballs, or the wet pasta that was brains at the elementary school spook alley as a child? That about scarred me for life! Continue reading →
It has been my experience that those I personally know who struggle with the SSM attitudes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are those whose testimonies are not firm in the doctrine of the family. As bold a statement as this may be, I have seen it proven time and time again by what I have seen and what the Brethren have taught in General Conference for years. If we don’t hold firm to the family doctrine of the Church, we may be swayed.
We’ve been warned that we are in danger of falling away from the Church if we don’t put our faith in Jesus Christ; that we must read the Book of Mormon regularly and how vital it is to have regular, sincere prayer in order to be guided by the Holy Ghost. I have also come to learn that the people I know personally who have struggled with this debate are not following the prophets who have raised these warnings.
Can we really believe that contention and fear cannot exist where the Holy Ghost resides? The Book of Mormon shows us two times where this occurred. Mosiah 4: 2-3, after King Benjamin’s speech, and 4 Nephi 1: 2-5, after Christ visited the Americas.
The Book of Mormon also shows us what it was like for those believers who felt the comforting power of the Holy Ghost in the midst of great wickedness. Alma 56 tells us how, during terrible war, mothers held their children close and taught them that the Spirit would deliver them from harm. And 3 Nephi 7 explains in great detail the incredible power of the Spirit given to those who were faithful in spite of the threat of persecution.
Do we, as women in the Church, feel that we are united in faith, powered by the Holy Ghost through our testimonies and actions? Do we really believe the Spirit will always be with us because we believe? Do we live our lives as though we were guided every second of every day by the Holy Spirit, who is promised to us each time we partake of the Sacrament? Continue reading →
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
That scripture tells us that what we do, not just what we believe, has an effect on the outcome of our salvation.
Trying to Understand Grace
I have heard a couple of interpretations of this scripture commonly espoused in Church classes and among Church members. Sometimes I have been told that if I do my best, then Jesus will take care of the rest and nothing more will be required. Other times I have been told that it really does not matter how good I am or what I do, that Jesus has already paid the price. So I get baptized, attend Church, and try not to commit any major sins—beyond that I simply need to believe and not fret about my salvation. Worrying about salvation, I have been taught, is not having faith in the atonement of Christ.
These interpretations, while they seem nice and frankly easy, do not fit in with the scriptures nor with everyone’s personal experiences. Then what is the truth? Continue reading →
You “promised to help!” “My message to you tonight is that you can be an important part of His giving comfort to those who need comfort.” The words of President Henry B. Eyring’s address at the Women’s Session of LDS General Conference keep echoing in my mind and in my heart. Our lives here in mortality are not all about us. We have been asked of the Lord to be unselfish, caring, and concerned for others. We are asked to look around us at the trials and difficulties so many carry, and try to help them at each opportunity we have. Why? Because as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have covenanted to do so. Continue reading →
I’ve always felt like I was being prepared for something. Seemingly insignificant moments in time have turned out to be turning points in my life. As I have listened to the Spirit, my life has been guided in a direction that I had not planned, or even anticipated to be an option. For example, the Spirit guided me to marry my husband.
I had not planned to marry an older man—especially one who had been divorced and had a son. My brain repeatedly told me that this was a mistake, and that it couldn’t possibly work. The Spirit told me something different. I’m known for my stubborn nature. I admit that I gave back the engagement ring three times. The Holy Ghost can be stubborn too. You know that “still small voice” that everyone talks about? I must be a great frustration to the Holy Ghost, because he yells at me—often.
How different my life would have been if I had not listened to the Spirit and married my husband! I would not have found my way back to the Church. If I close my eyes, I can see myself alone in a dark room with empty bottles of booze. My life would most assuredly have been cut short from a combination of loneliness, alcohol, and depression. Keeping my eyes closed, I don’t see my children, or my grandchildren. Continue reading →