A fun object lesson and treat to go along with it is to include a wrapped chocolate or candy. Explain that any negative feeling can block us from feeling God’s love, just like like the wrapper is blocking us from tasting the chocolate.
To overcome our negative feelings, we must be willing to forgive others and ourselves. Once we are willing to change our thoughts and attitudes to overcome our negative feelings, through the help of the Spirit, we can once again come to taste the sweetness of God’s love within us.
I’ve been studying the young women lesson, “Why do we fast?” and it reminded me of a journal entry I wrote last year after I had completed a fast (in our church we voluntarily go without food and drink at least once a month). This was a time when I felt like I came to a better understanding of why we fast. Hope it helps!
“Today I decided to fast longer than the usual short and pretty insignificant fast of skipping breakfast and stuffing my face as soon as I get home from church. I decided to really complete the two meals of fasting.
Part of me resisted it because I have a very hard time functioning without food. I get grumpy and when I am grumpy I’m short, reactive, impatient, and mean. And I end up thinking to myself, how is fasting a spiritual experience if I don’t have the spirit at all?? Why are we asked to fast if it ends up being a negative thing for me?
Well you know that scripture that says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: (Matt 7:7)” It’s true. (See receiving personal revelation post)
After thinking about it, I figured one of the reasons we are asked to fast is because we are giving up our natural desires and letting our spirit conquer and be in charge. I learned that my experience with fasting was basically never getting to the ‘let the spirit be in charge’ part because my body was just too consumed with the fact that it was hungry and grumpy. I was letting my body take the reins because it does by default when I am hungry; and it becomes exceedingly difficult to take over again until I get fed! But I needed to win this time. Once I realized the real war that was raging: body vs. spirit, I knew I could win.
After I realized this dilemma in my fast, I knew how to better approach it. Today I decided that I would succumb to having the spirit instead of giving into my natural human urges. It didn’t start off well. It was end of daylight saving time, which sounds like it was a good thing because of the extra hour. But that knowledge of extra hour made us sleep in and take our sweet time while getting ready to go to church.
We were late. I was hungry and irritable and snarky at my husband and impatient with my kids. I felt myself getting worked up. But I caught it before it got crazy. I reminded myself of my goal. Even though almost every part of me had no desire and it seemed impossible that I could actually get over the starving/grumpy aspect of fasting, I chose to do what I could to stay calm and choose the spirit. And I kid you not, magical things happened that day. Magic that may have not been realized by anyone else but me, but magic nonetheless. I was awakened to things I would not have realized had I not been fasting.
I was very prompted to bear my testimony. Even though I’m happy to bear my testimony, it can be an intense experience, and many times it is just more comfortable NOT bearing it. But when you know, you know, and so I did it. I did it because I knew that the Heavens and my spirit really wanted me to express those those things lying deep within my heart. I talked about the war in heaven and how it hasn’t ended. Each day we choose whom we will serve.
Each moment of every day we decide if we choose the spirit or not. If we succumb to anger or love. Self pity or self respect. It is about overcoming our human nature and embracing our very real and true divine nature. I know when I choose the spirit, my spirit enlarges and my capacity to keep making those good spiritual choices is strengthened. If we don’t choose God we are choosing to give captivity to the devil. If we aren’t aware of it, we will just choose the default, our human nature, which is actually to serve our natural carnal desires. The war is still RAGING!
Anyway, I felt so much better after that. It was a spiritual release! People thanked me for my testimony (which is actually a really awkward experience for me) but I’m grateful for their compliments.
During the rest of my fast I was happy and full of the spirit. I didn’t feel grumpy or weighed down. Even though I could feel the physical weakness of not eating, my thoughts were not focused on eating or my discomfort. I engaged in activities that could enlarge and feed my soul. I felt ideas and inspiration for my church calling and for life flow freely. I felt more connected to my true self and to my God.”
If you are doing a lesson, here is a handout you could use. Invite them to write answers they find regarding fasting in Isaiah 58:3–12.
I used to think always putting God first in my life was out of obligation. So I tried to put all churchy things before most things. I prayed and read scriptures in the morning and performed calling assignments before I did anything else. It was a great start because those things held high priority in my life. But the way I executed these tasks and my attitude about them made all the difference in the resulting level of power and influence.
The trouble was that there was something missing from my actions. In my hurry to just say prayers, just read scriptures, or just do this required service was that my heart was only focused on getting it over with so I could do everything else I wanted. When I read scriptures, my mind wasn’t as occupied thinking about the story or concepts found there as it was busily thinking about everything going on in my day(Such as what I would wear and other ‘important’ items).
Now, I believe turning our full heart to the Savior is a lifelong process of conversion. And immersing ourselves in acts of faith like prayer, reading scriptures, or going to church redirects our thoughts and intents to the Savior even if just for mere a minute. Practices like these build on each other to construct a solid foundation of faith in our life.
It wasn’t until later in my life that it finally became clear what it really meant to put God first. After I had half heartedly gone through the motions of worship , I realized what I was missing.
See, there was a disconnect from the daily tasks I was doing to the thoughts and intents of my heart. I just wanted to get it over with most of the time, almost just to say I did it or to feel like I was ‘good’ enough. But in the end it had little to do with my actual relationship to Deity.
The reason I went through those motions had nothing to do with motions at all. It was to reflect sincerely and deeply about the Savior and feel a connection with Him. The purpose is to feel and have a connection with the SPIRIT.
It isn’t supposed to be just for that moment of prayer, church or study, but to take that Spirit with you throughout the day, intending to keep it by acting and thinking in a way that would preserve it. By doing this we can invite a powerful influence into our lives. Having the spirit, or Holy Ghost, I invite Christ into my life. I no longer act alone with my own strength and understanding, but I perform with divine help and guidance. When I have a measure of the Spirit, I inherit a portion of His divine characteristics. I can become ‘Christ-like” not through my own personal human power, but because I have succumbed to a higher power.
My behavior changes not because I force myself to act ‘perfect’ or because I feel obligated to behave a certain way, but because His spirit invites and provides change of behavior. My heart is able to change from my natural selfish state to one that is willing and ready to love. I know when I have the Spirit in my life because it changes me. It’s similar to the effect it had on the people of King Benjamin when they said ” Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” Mosiah 5:2
I come to know and understand Christ and what real love means as I come to feel and understand myself when I have the His Spirit. The more I drink in of His Spirit, the more I know Him and the more purified I can become.
I receive, even if only in the tiniest portion, how He feels, acts and thinks about me, His children and the purposes of life. Life becomes clear and beautiful.
It is easy to forget, to tune out the spirit. The gravitational pull of our fallen human natures requires us to seek Him daily, moment to moment. To do everything to remind our stubborn human selves of Him. Much of our religion is based on bringing a remembrance, a repetitive educational course of why we are here and why Christ matters. (see this post) Weekly church and sacrament, constant prayer, daily scripture study, gratitude all remind us of the covenants we made with Him. Because we are weak, vulnerable humans prone to leave our one true God, we cannot afford to stop doing those things that remind us.
Taking upon His name is not only putting Him first’ in the day and then forgetting about Him but I believe it means putting Him and seeking His Spirit first in our hearts, minds all day long. When our natural mans takes over, to taking time to realign to the spirit again (See daily repentance post)
God wants us to put Him first heart, mind and soul because when we do, we are blessed with His Spirit and with His Spirit we can experience the greatest love, self respect, self control, patience, understanding and happiness. We are made ALIVE in Christ by doing so!
As the sacrament prayer goes, “that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”
Here is a handout card I created that can be made into magnets to put on fridge or locker to serve as a reminder of who we are representing and striving to be like. Click on download link below for pdf with 4 on a page.
I’m preparing a YW lesson for this month’s theme of Priesthood and priesthood keys. So I’ve been mulling over in my brain and heart how I feel about the priesthood (the power of God given to man on earth, read more about it here.). I’ve also been thinking about the great blessing it is in my life and for everyone that participates in the ordinances involved.
I know it can become a sensitive subject to some since there are those that feel like they never had the priesthood in their homes. There are others that feel it an injustice since “women don’t hold the priesthood.” The reality, however, is that ALL MEMBERS of THE CHURCH– guys, girls, kids, old and young– get to receive and participate in priesthood blessings (Read this ).
As Elder Oaks said, “While we sometimes refer to priesthood holders as ‘the priesthood,’ we must never forget that the priesthood is not owned by or embodied in those who hold it. It is held in a sacred trust to be used for the benefit of men, women, and children alike.”
Here is an analogy depicting our individual role, responsibility and blessings within the priesthood.
What is more important in helping a car run and move forward? The steering wheel or the wheels?
I like to think of the priesthood (the power of God given to man on earth) as a complete car and the members as different vital components that help the whole car function. All members can ride, benefit, receive and contribute to the priesthood, but each person has different responsibilities to build and operate it smoothly. We all are vital components needed to make it run; the whole couldn’t operate without the individual parts.
Just because one person is called to be the ‘steering wheel’ doesn’t make him better or worse or more important than those who serve as the ‘wheels’. A steering wheel is useless to the whole function of the car without the rest of the parts. Comparing and arguing who has what part or what responsibility and feeling resentful of the difference instead of focusing on the performance of the whole results in an unsatisfying, dysfunctional and divided effort. Focusing on doing our part, keeping our end of the covenant, trusting and allowing the car and work of the Lord to move forward brings satisfaction, blessings and progress to the whole and individuals involved.
That is what helps brings the power of God (or priesthood) into our personal lives. Sister Sherry Dew said, “The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness.” Think of the ‘priesthood car’ as a vehicle on the way to eternal life protected against the thick and luring powers of Satan all around.
That is awesome power to have, if you ask me. AND we can ALL have that personal power of the priesthood in our lives as we make and stay true to our sacred covenants! Yay!
Sister Dew continues, “Most significantly, the fullness of the priesthood contained in the highest ordinances of the house of the Lord can be received only by a man and woman together.” It is a power that is then increased as men and women come together and complete each other in the priesthood. One part cannot fully function without the other. There is humility required in understanding that we depend on one another and to achieve unity.
This analogy can be perpetuated to a large scale to encompass the entire ‘vehicle’ of The Church of Jesus Christ as we trust the ordained leaders in our church. This includes callings in our local wards and family units. We must trust that our part is moving the Lord’s work forward, whatever that may be. We are all full partakers of the blessings of the priesthood as we make promises with God and receive awesome blessings and power like the Holy Ghost to lead us. It opens up our eyes to how precious we are in producing a lot of good in this church, in our own personal lives, and in this world to glorify God.
I trust that Heavenly Father is the master ‘car engineer.’ He is not only the engineer but the DRIVER Himself. Man is not the one ‘driving the priesthood,’ He is only operating through God.
Heavenly Father knows our divine capacities and where we will serve best. He also understands we need to learn to rely on each other and Him. I’m so happy He lends to all His children His power of the priesthood to direct and protect us in this life so we can return back to Him. Its a beautiful thing.
Scripture to tie into car analogy: D&C: 84:109-110
109 Therefore, let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling; and let not the head say unto the feet it hath no need of the feet; for without the feet how shall the body be able to stand?
110 Also the body hath need of every member, that all may beedified together, that the system may be kept perfect.
Love this quote because we are really all in this together:
Here is the file to download to use as a handout (4 on a pg)
[Download not found]
For more lds object lessons click on image above:.
I believe our souls are inherently seeking divine guidance that will lead us personally to true and lasting peace, happiness and success in all areas of our lives.
The great news is that we are not alone in this earthly journey! We are children of a God that is happy and eager to impart His wisdom, light and guidance that will lead us along our way to become beings greater than we could have even imagined ourselves!! He wants to lead us to success–most likely not in the way our puny human minds imagine it, but only as a deeply loving, all-knowing, all-powerful Father understands it. Success in a far greater and deeper way than we even thought possible!!
How is this done? How in the world do we tap into that Heavenly knowledge that can direct us back to spiritual success? How do we train our mind, body and soul to seek out the living water of truth available to us instead of accepting and following every other voice, impulse and direction that is fighting for our attention? How do learn to LISTEN? To that sweet, gentle, still small voice of the Spirit that will guide us to truth and righteous?
” And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your atrust in that bSpirit which leadeth to do dgood—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to gjudge righteously; and this is my Spirit. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall aenlighten your bmind, which shall fill your soul with cjoy; And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.” D&C 11:12-14
I’m teaching the YW lesson “How Do I Receive Personal Revelation?” and I’m excited to share insight I have learned through studying the lesson and the wise words of apostles and prophets on this topic!! I created this worksheet for personal or classroom use as a guide to finding answers in our lives. Below is a worksheet of my personal elaboration on each section of the worksheet.
First, We Gotta Ask QUESTIONS!!
You know that scripture that says, “Ask, and it shall be bgiven you; cseek, and ye shall find;dknock, and it shall be opened unto you:” It is FOR REAL. It is real because Heavenly Father seriously desires to and does reveal and open the gates of Heaven for us. But it is contingent upon our efforts to seek those answers! Posing big or small questions engages our mind and spirit to receive answers! When we sincerely and continually ponder and seek divine direction in our lives, we become OPEN. Our eyes see what we otherwise would not have seen, our ears hear what we otherwise would not have heard and our hearts take in what would have otherwise passed by us. It is a conscious effort on our part, but receiving nuggets of wisdom and understanding from our Father in Heaven can be a constant and infinitely rewarding prize.
Removing Spiritual Blocks We need to remember that God’s plan is NOT to hold back guidance that will lead us to greater happiness. But He simply CANNOT communicate what is needed if we are unwilling to listen or not in a position to listen. Think ‘spiritual toddler.’ If we are having a ‘tantrum’ over a trial, we most likely won’t listen to a loving parent who genuinely wants to assist us. This happen much more than we are probably willing to admit. Just like it would be like in leading a small child we gotta be that calm child, who is finally eager to listen, who isn’t crying wildly in frantic panic, who isn’t just concerned about getting ‘her way’. Elder Henry B. Eyring said, “Many of us, in moments of personal anguish, feel that God is far from us. The pavilion that seems to intercept divine aid does not cover God but occasionally covers us. God is never hidden, yet sometimes we are, covered by a pavilion of motivations that draw us away from God and make Him seem distant and inaccessible. Our own desires, rather than a feeling of “Thy will be done,”2 create the feeling of a pavilion blocking God.” Read his talk.
Living a life to have a connection with the Spirit. I cannot think of better way to receiving guidance from God than to revolve our daily efforts in striving to keep and listen to the Spirit. It means being humble enough to listen to that quiet voice that speaks right into our hearts to practice patience, to forgive oneself and others, that feeling that sweetly nudges us to listen closer and more empathically to our loved ones, that split second thought that says to know not indulge in gossip when the moment arises, that gentle feeling that encourages us to let go of our anger or frustration over someone or a situation. It tries to communicate with us ALL DAY LONG but if we are too distracted, too stressed, too busy, too tired, too consumed with worldly pursuits and entertainment it is SO easy to miss, so easy to be totally desensitized and disconnected from it. But if we but make small efforts day by day to invite the Spirit, to keep it in the forefront of our hearts and minds, to take care of our bodies, to read the truths found in scriptures, and talks and church magazines, to manage our emotions, to keep a clean mind and heart, then we will open communication from heaven to help us with our questions, concerns, decisions and it is AMAZING the feeling and life we can have for ourselves. “It is important that our daily activities do not distract us from listening to the Spirit.” -Richard G. Scott, read his talk about “Obtaining personal revelation and inspiration for your life”
Understanding what it feels like and what it means to receive revelation and divine guidance. I believe that when we speak of REVELATION, we can make it out to seem to so big and sometimes so sensationalized that we can miss that we have already received guidance or miss the answer that Heavenly Father is trying to communicate with us. Even though there are incredible stories of faith found in the scriptures and even in our church culture of receiving answers to prayers, most of the most miraculous experiences are quiet, personal, and seemingly undramatic. The truth is that our seemingly anticlimactic answer to our long time pleas and prayers, if we open our hearts of understanding, can hold even more deep and much more powerful influence in our personal lives and lives of others than the most sensationalized, awe inspiring, mouth dropping answers and miracles performed in history!!
“And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul—”
My personal experience with receiving inspiration and guidance I think and ponder about a subject and that I’m curious about/ have questions about or need direction with. When I am connected to the spirit, I feel like my thoughts are heighten, my mind is expanded to understand things in a broader eternal perspective. But it is not with my continual and conscience desire to know, ponder and understand truth.
Heavenly father rarely just dumps revelation out of nowhere (though at times it may seem sudden). He wants to direct us to the answer thought by thought, feeling by feeling, process by process, line upon line as it says. It is like a treasure hunt where we continually gather evidence, clues along the way as make decisions and press forward. We learn bit by bit as we are willing and ready to receive it. As we receive it we can feel the truthfulness of a principle.
God allows for this type of learning because when we come upon the answers through our own diligent seeking and willingness to receive, those answers become a PART of us. We have made an effort to be taught by the Holy Ghost. When it communicates with us it goes straight to the heart, not as an external passing thought but to the deep and spiritual part of our being that swallows and accepts truth for itself and becomes an integral part of our nature as we continue to apply the truth we have learned. It is receiving and experimenting by putting it to the test, trusting in God and in ourselves. It is a learning process, it is a journey.
I love Elder Bednar’s analogy (here is a great vid on it) on receiving light. I believe that revelation be sometimes received in all three ways that he explains (light switch, sunrise, and foggy day). We can have a light ‘switch moment’ or aha moment of what we should do. Then we have to move forward to make that decision in our lives step by step, noticing more and more guidance and understanding (like a sunrise). Yet we may be traveling as what may seem a fog day, not know everything ahead of us, trusting with each step with what we can see and having faith that are moving in the right direction.
I was searching my brain on how I could represent what happens to us spiritually when we sin and how repentance is such a beautiful gift that is given to us to cleanse and help us come to know greater levels of happiness and come to know our Father in Heaven. I’m excited to share this object lesson that came to my mind as I was pondering ways to illustrate this concept. Enjoy! This goes with this YW lesson, here are my additional thoughts, insight and handout that goes with the lesson.
Here is what you need for the object lesson:
Stress Ball or Sponge (cut out like a heart if desired)
Here is the basic written out from of the video:
I’m going to attempt to illustrate to you with an object lesson how repentance can help us everyday and how it is a key part of feeling and living in an abundance of real peace love and happiness.
This foamy stress ball heart represents our heart. (if you are try to do this object lesson you can use a sponge–cut out like heart even)
In its purest form it is moldable, teachable, humble and clean which makes it totally receptive to the spirit, inspiration and communication from God. It is happy, free and at peace.
The fact is that our hearts don’t always remain as such because we are human and that makes us selfish and mistake prone.
Our Heavenly Father wants us to grow in varying degrees to change, develop learn and use our agency wisely.
He allows life to present us with many opportunities for us to experience growth.
But who knows why exactly we do this but in our fear, pride, limited understanding, want to protect ourselves, our resistance against change, selfishness our impulse to do it our way we place barriers between us and the spirit by hardening our hearts (i’m using playdoh here and putting it over the heart)
We refuse to listen to what is best for us for all those reasons.
But in our rebellion we have blocked that communication from our Father in Heaven and our true happiness.
The hardening of our hearts invites sin. Those hard parts have block us from spiritual understanding. ‘
Our hearts still long to ‘feel’ something so selfishly we start to do things that bring some temportary satisfaction but bring great sadness to our Heavenly Father and ultimately ourselves.
Little things like gossip we do because he feel like we are at least better than someone else. (place a bean in the play dough after each statement)
We treat with others with anger because it helps us feel dominion over someone else
We hold grudges because we feel some kind of symbolic victory.
We may even turn to putting harmful things into our bodies because we feel momentary relief or satisfaction.
Or may even comprise our moral standard because we want to feel something with someone.
But all those things have only created a greater barrier against our true happiness and receiptiveness to the light and love of our Heavenly Father
“Wickedness was never happiness”
I heard someone once add, “But people often don’t do wicked things for wickedness sake but because they confuse it for happiness.
All those ‘sins’ are just cheap substitutes for happiness.
The awesome new is that we can be cleansed of all these yucky sins, these behaviors and attitudes that weigh us down and block us from feeling real happiness.
God wants so badly for us to feel His love but it cannot penetrate our souls if we have but barrier around our hearts.
The scriptures speak of His arms being open, 2 extended, 3 stretched out, 4and encircling. 5 They are described as mighty 6 and holy, 7 arms of mercy, 8arms of safety, 9 arms of love, 10 “lengthened out all the day long.” 11
He wants us to repent, turn around, come back, change, be clean so he can communicate his love, guide us, strengthen us and empower us.
Once we are humble enough to realize we have offend God and made choices that have blocked his spirit and we have gain a desire to return, Christ can come in. If we do our part to repair the harm we’ve caused, He can simultaneously come in a repair and heal our hearts from sins with the power of His Atonement. We can be purified, cleansed and sanctified (become as saints only through the power of Christ). YAY!!! (Remove play Dough until clean)
When are hearts are clean, we can be more fully receptive to the spirit, guidance and feel greater happiness, peace and love.
I’m finding that Daily repentance is not a feeling of continually feeling guilty and weigh down by my less than perfect efforts but it having a penitent heart that is eager to improve and willing to change. So during my day I notice that my heart and mind do get hard and unwilling by things I may think or do but a penitent heart is one that is quick to come back, to remove pride, throw away thoughts and behaviors that and ‘blue barriers’ that prevent feeling the spirit. To realign, repent, change, forgive and move forward toward God because that is where I can best enjoy an abundance of peace and happiness.
” I love it when people tell me to repent! ” said no one ever. Who likes to be told they are doing things wrong and to to change their ways? Um. Not many.
I’m teaching the Young Women’s Lesson, “How can repentance help me everyday”. I never thought teaching about repentance would be my first choice, but it totally was!..why?? Because I’m discovery repentance really is such a awesome gift to help us live happy and free lives!!Here are my thoughts on the matter:
I’m prepare a Young Women’s Lesson for my church titled, “Why do the Choice I make matter?” I LOVE this topic, the very real power of CHOICE and how it literally governs the outcomes of our lives! Here are some of my thoughts:
Tell me, what ultimately determines our destiny in this life?
-What you look like
-Your personality traits
-The circumstances you were born into
– Your genetic predispositions
-The social influences that surround you.
-Fortunes or mishaps that occur in your life
-The way you were raised
Those are all huge factors in life, right? So which one is it? What will best tell what our lives will look like? Is it nature or nurture? The great debate! Is it all the weakness and strengths we are born with or the weakness and strengths of our surroundings that will decide the happiness of our life??
Ready for my epiphany moment?
See, even though those factors can have a big influence in the life of person, the ultimate determining factor is actually one’s choices.Ultimately, what we choose to do with what we’ve been given is what determines everything.
That is one BIG FAT POWERFUL TRUTH.
That means that no matter who you are, where you were born, what you look like, how you were raised, how ‘smart’ you are, what choices others make, what happens to you in life, YOU ALWAYS continue to have CHOICE, AGENCY, one of the greatest powers available to you. To choose God, to choose love, to choose the Spirit, to choose peace, to choose JOY, to choose to contribute to humanity! Everytime. With the guiding power of Christ, his enabling Atonement and the Holy Ghost that communicate this to us (or spirit of Christ that is given to every man) WE ARE ALL given the tools to make powerful choices in our lives to bring us great happiness! It is what sets us FREE from all the factors we cannot control in our lives from controlling what and who we become! To ‘act for ourselves and not be acted upon.’
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.
Mean trick of the adversary.
One greatest games that Satan pulls on us ALL the TIME (and enforced by our ‘natural man’) is to make us believe that we simply DON’T have choice! He tries to blinds us to the choices we have and responsibility we have towards our own progression and happiness. He wants us to believe we are victims and forever captive to our situation. As long as we believe it, we will be held captive! That mentality stunts the progress we can make. It comes in beliefs that it is somebody else’s fault that we can’t do something, or that our behavior is excused by this person or situation. Or that our circumstances make it so we can’t be happy, successful or at peace. That people MAKE us angry, MAKE us depressed, MAKE us do things we aren’t proud of. Even though it is our very human nature to believe this when things don’t go smoothly, we are given a greater power through the Atonement of Christ and His Spirit to eventually overcome default reactions and impulses. It gives the strength that help us reclaim our right to peace and happiness, even in difficult situations.
What it will takes from us.
It mostly likely will require us to have humility, to forgive, to repentance and engage in a gradual process of letting go (again and again and again) but it is available to us! It empowers us to rise above our circumstances and our fallen selves! Yay!
Commitment of choice.
There are solid choices that can be made beforehand that can help keep us undeviated on our journey. Choices that take us to where we want to be and become. If we have written these commitments on paper and in our hearts, when confusion sets in, when we feel lost and weary, when temptation is roaring, when everyone else around us sucumbs to what you know isn’t right, you still know what is right and can continue to choose it. And you will remain unscathed, clean and strong. That is the power of choice.
Sister Elaine S. Dalton ‘choice’ advice:
“When I was a young woman, I learned that some decisions need to be made only once. I wrote my list of things I would always do and things I would never do in a small tablet. It included things like obeying the Word of Wisdom, praying daily, paying my tithing, and committing to never miss church. I made those decisions once, and then in the moment of decision, I knew exactly what to do because I had decided beforehand. When my high school friends said, “Just one drink won’t hurt,” I laughed and said, “I decided when I was 12 not to do that.” Making decisions in advance will help you be guardians of virtue. I hope each of you will write a list of things you will always do and things you will never do. Then live your list.” ~From her talk “Guardians of Virtue”
I gave a lesson to the Young Women in my church about preparing to establish a Christ-centered home* this last Sunday. It caused me to put my thoughts together and further reflect about why I feel that Christ matters so much. With Christmas just about here, I felt strongly to announce to the world my own feelings about Christ and why it IS such a big deal that little baby in Bethlehem was born.
Why is it that so much of the world is celebrating the arrival of this person? Why does it matter that Jesus came? How did it affect the world and how does it affect us personally, every day?? I don’t have all the answers, but I have come to know through my experiences a few, simple things that have helped me get closer to answers, to more hope, to more understanding, to greater happiness and to closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Why does it matter that I base myself, family, home and life around Christ? Let me share a personal story about how I came to better terms to why it matters to me.
I was having one of those moments as a mother that I realized how blatantly short my efforts fell from being the mother I wanted to be. I found that because of my very human limitations, insecurities, fears, and personal weaknesses, I simply could not show love to my kids as beautifully as I wanted. I got frustrated with them, snapped at them, was easily distracted when I could better be attending their needs and so on. I came to the thought, “Wow, what in the world did my innocent little children do to be raised by a mom like me? Nothing, they did nothing to deserve it. They were just born to me. I realized that no matter the effort I put in, I would still be lacking somewhere. Simply because I am human, weak, temperamental (can you say hormones?), unwilling, selfish – and- even my very personality and all its flaws that are more or less incompatible with that of my child’s would affect him and his life. I realized my very shortcomings as a human could one way or another mess up my kid. GULP. What a predicament.
Hope for my kids.
Then like a glimmer of hope in the midst of mental implosion, this scripture came to my mind, “And we atalk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our cchildren may know to what source they may look for a dremission of their sins.” 2 Nephi 25:26
It hit me that the reason I make the effort to teach, talk, celebrate, write and testify of Christ is because it is HE who will do the saving, NOT ME. If I can just do my best to teach my littles to turn to the Light that is Jesus Christ, they can be redeemed from their weaknesses (sins, insecurities, fears, sorrows), and EVEN the weakness that became theirs because of my influence (my sincere efforts as a mother that simply were not enough). Jesus Christ matters because my children have as much of a chance to enjoy satisfying and true happiness in this life (and the next to come) as I do. Oh what a relief!
Hope for me.
Even though I am human, weak, and SO blunder prone, there is still hope for me as a mother. Christ not only compensates for what I could not do, but enables me to do and be more than I otherwise could on my own as I mother. I have personally experienced the real enabling power of Christ in my life. I have seen it in those moments when I am humble and willing enough to know that I cannot do it alone, when I start relying on His spirit more, those moments of quiet listening to the real voice within that stills me, helps me harness life and myself to do those things that really matter. It comes to me in those miraculous little moments that I didn’t have to get upset, that I stopped and listened, that I sought an opportunity to teach instead instead of punish. Those are the moments that I can more clearly see the light in my child’s eyes, see him for who he is. Love him more sincerely and deeply than ever before and experience a joy more exquisite than I thought possible.
He sets me FREE.
I’ve experienced and still do experience all sorts of heavy and crazy types of slavery. What? Yes. We all do. We are all slaves to nasty slave masters that come in mean voices in our heads, that pushes us around, that say we are not good enough, that suck the life out of us in negativity, guilt, worry, frantic fear of the ridiculous. That voice that keeps us a slave to anything less than joy and keeps us away from really enjoying life and seeing yourself as the glorious beings we really are. I have learned that those voices can be ignored, can be quieted, and can be overcome. It is a gift and power I have found Christ lends to me. To focus more on His spirit, less on the things that drag me down, more on the inspiring, less on the depressing, more on the things to rejoice about, less on the things to whine about. It is liberating, it is true freedom. (Read an eg of this in this post-My obsession with getting things done and how it block real happiness )
He came so we could receive, know and show LOVE.
If for some reason the idea of Jesus Christ still seems quite removed for you, perhaps the idea of LOVE can complete it for you. Christ’s whole missions was for love and out of love for us. Christ =LOVE. When we feel true Love we are feeling part of Him. For me it is a feeling that things will be ok, that there is much to be hoped for, much to be happy about, it is a feeling of security within myself, confidence to take on life, the gift of ability to love others and give of myself without fear. He is what makes life beautiful. LOVE is why Christ matters. There is little I want more than Christ and His love in my home.
I am teaching my Church Young Women’s group about why it is important to keep our body’s healthy. I am really excited to teach this because I am a huge believer of keeping a healthy and balanced life to achieve a sense of happiness and wellbeing (See post about healthy body here). Practicing good health is vital to Keeping the ‘delicate, sensitive, spiritual of our nature on proper alert’ as Body K. Packer states. It helps us feel the Spirit more clearly and fully in our lives. I have found that striving to maintain the spirit in my life by practicing good health, care and respect for my body has truly brought a flood of wisdom, inspiration, calmness, peace, happiness more than I could ever imagine. Being sensitive to the Spirit also provides the balance we need so we don’t go overboard on any aspect of our lives. I have learned, it really is the ‘Word of Wisdom’.
I wanted something the girls could really ‘take home’ and practice. I gathered some images from the internet of things that could represent areas of health: Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual even financial well being so they could create a Health Vision Board. I’m a believe of vision boards because they tie in the verbal and visual parts of our brains. The idea is to put the board on the wall next to their beds where they can see it as soon as they roll out of bed. Their job is to look at every part of the board every morning (and often as they like) and really take in. The idea is the more they internalize what is on the board, the sooner and easier their minds will make sure it gets done! I’m about forming habits and disciple (see my 7 tips of success here), so this way, if they missed doing something for a couple days to NOT GIVE UP! You are DEVELOPING habits, so it is ok if you don’t do it all right away, but the board provides the VISION of what it is you really want to keep working on.
Here is the vision board handout they can cut and glue on a regular 8.5×11 piece of paper or cardstock. Hope it helps!
you can copy and paste image above or download version here: