Friday, October 21, 2016

Book of Mormon Week 8

"And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions."
 - Mosiah 24: 13-14
This week I have been thinking a lot about what happens when people stop believing that God will comfort them--when people stop believing that God inspires people and helps them along in their life. There is a couple from my home state that was just excommunicated from the church. Many on social media are claiming that it is because this couple "expressed doubts", but it's amazing that as soon as you talk to them, they will tell you that they don't believe the church is true anymore. They weren't excommunicated for expressing doubts, they were excommunicated because they don't believe that this is Christ's church.

The thing is, I can relate a lot to some of the things that they said. They said that one of the reasons why they knew the church wasn't true because Bishops aren't inspired. I don't believe that, but I do know that Bishops aren't perfect. I do know that Bishops make mistakes--and that sometimes those mistakes can cause real harm. But I still believe they are inspired and this is why.

To me, it all comes down to burdens. Whether they are burdens of doubt, of harm, of bondage, of sickness, or of sin--burdens make it hard for us to live life.

Let me tell you a story. There was a time that I had to go speak with a Bishop about some problems that I had been having in my life. It was one of the hardest experiences I had ever come across in my life. Two things occurred in the following weeks that have stuck with me for a long time.

The first thing was that my loving Bishop never told me that he felt that I had been forgiven--at least to my memory. That just wasn't something that he said to me. And honestly, not hearing those words was really hard for me for years. But it taught me how to rely on God speaking to me instead of my Bishop, and I am so SO grateful for that.

The second thing was that my loving Bishop told me that if his newborn baby girl could grow up to be like me, he would be so happy. That one phrase brightened my life. That this man--who knew a lot about my past sins and troubles--could say that and mean it amazed me.

I know my thoughts are a bit scattered today, but here is the principle that I feel that I gain from this scripture. The voice of the Lord comes to us in our afflictions, but if you notice--that scripture also mentions covenants with Him. I cannot expect to have His voice in my life or his Hands lifting the burdens from my back if I am not willing to keep my covenants with Him.

But if I do seek Him in prayer and through scriptures study. If I do serve others as I have covenanted. If I do listen to my priesthood leaders and seek personal revelation about what they say--if I do all of those things, then I will be able to stand as a witness for him hereafter. I will be able to know of a surety that the Lord God visits His people in their afflictions. I will know that.

And the thing is, you can know that too.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Book of Mormon Week 7

This week, the scriptures provided me mostly with comfort and reassurance. Being engaged is harder than I ever would have thought, and I don't always feel as if I live up to what Heavenly Father expects of me. Sometimes I make choices because I am tired or emotional that I normally would not make. Then, I end up feeling guilty and really want to be better. 
I am so grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ, which allows me to be better. Satan tries so hard to convince me in these moments that the bad choices are who I am. But it's not true. Losing my temper or acting in a way contrary to my divine nature does not mean that I am that person. So, Satan is wrong. 
This week, Mosiah 14:3-5 really helped me reflect on the atonement. It is the passage from Isaiah.
"He is despised and rejected of men; man of sorrows,and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefsand carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressionshe was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
For me, these scriptures teach principles of love. Christ loved us enough to suffer an indescribable amount of emotional, physical, and spiritual pain so that we could be "healed" as Isaiah says. I want to remember that this gift I have been given is amazing and can truly heal me and make me into a stronger, better daughter of God.
It can make you a better Child of God too. Knowing what Christ did for you changes everything in your life by making you aware of the immense amount of love that He has for you. I hope that knowing that helps you through your week. Remember that you were loved enough that the Savior gave his life for you. Always remember that.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Book of Mormon Week 6

This week in Book of Mormon, Brother Griffen pointed out something that I had never thought of before. He said that the scriptures never talk about our minds being "open", but only "firm". The part of our body that the scriptures talk about being "open" is our hearts
This is evidenced in Jacob 3:1.
"Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction."
Thinking about this has made a world of difference to me, especially in light of this Presidential Election and the talk that has gone on the past few years about being "politically correct". It has never quite sat right with me that my mind needs to be open. Doesn't God tell us that there is absolute truth? Then why would we be untrue to that by having a mind that betrays us?
However, having an open and pure heart is a different matter all together. I can love someone with a different lifestyle than me by having an open heart. I don't have to agree with them in my mind to be able to love them in my heart. 
I felt a lot of comfort from this doctrine. I want to be able to maintain a firm grasp on what is right and wrong in my mind. But I also want to love all of God's children with my heart. This principle makes that possible. I am grateful for God's scriptures for providing insight on this for me.
I hope that as you go about your lives and run into people that believe differently than you, that you will be able to hold on to your beliefs with a firm mind, but that you will also be able to love them with your open and pure heart.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book of Mormon Week 5

One thing that I have learned in my life is that I think and speak in metaphors. I think that maybe it's because I have so many emotions and emotions are the most easily described by using symbols and stories. 
One of my favorite symbols to use when teaching others and myself is light. I think that light is the epitome of truth when we say that all things denote that there is a Christ.  
This week, I was reading in 2 Nephi 19:2, which says:
"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."
I really thought about this verse and found that it is true. Because we live on Earth, we really do walk in darkness, and we really do dwell in the land of the shadow of death. God does not live on a world where there is death, that is a state of this Earth and this probationary period. This part of the verse is true.
However, we do not only walk in darkness, we also have the light of the Savior in our lives. He is our great light and he has shined down on us, as the scripture said.
This knowledge guided me this week. I know that God has asked us to live in a world with death and sin and sorrow and trials. But he has not left us alone. He has provided a Savior for us to be our light.
The best part about this symbol and metaphor is that we are surrounded by light every day. We can simply turn on the lamp in our bedroom or the light in the hallway or watch the sun rise in the morning to remember that God did not leave us alone here on Earth. He provided a Savior--just as he provided light--and there is a reason why the big ball of flaming light above us is called the Sun
May we look for the light this week and throughout our lives and simultaneously remember wherein lies our true light--the Son of God. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Book of Mormon Week 3

So here's the thing. I've been so crazy stressed at the moment. I have to maintain good grades in school so that I can keep my scholarship. I have to get in hours at work and work hard so that our research project is successful. I have to try to keep my head above water with stress and depression. And I want to enjoy planning my wedding to the most wonderful man I know. So, I've had to make some tough choices about what it is that I want to put as a priority in my life. With all the stress, some of the only comfort that I have had is from Cameron and from the scriptures. This week it was in 2 Nephi 4: 19-30.

"Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard...Why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions...Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation."

To me, this means a lot because it speaks to my spirit and tells me that everything is going to be okay. There is an important principle to be learned, which is that God is in charge and that he is all powerful. He cares about our lives and will help and strengthen us in our trials and challenges. We will have challenges, but he cares and he is there for me. And for you too.

Remember this week as trials bear down on you and your heart gets heavy that things are going to be okay. You have God on your side and he loves you. Though our strength may "slacken", God's will not. He's got us, safe and sound.