When I stopped and did yoga today, I realized I base my practice on my mindset for that day. Today, with so many heavy thoughts I wondered, what gives my yoga practice meaning? Is it doing harder poses or remembering to breath in all the right places? Am I any less if I am unable to do these things?
I had an enlightening conversation with my friend Erica about my many concerns. I told her about how frustrated I felt because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and that I felt down on myself because I wasn’t working. She told me most people don’t have careers that make them truly happy, but many find contentment in their job because they feel satisfied with their work. She also said there are many people who base their personal worth on their work.
Movies usually depict single women as aspiring or strong career women. They have lots of money, great houses, their dream job, and are incredibly beautiful. When I see these women, I start to feel uneasy because I am not like them. I don’t have all those fancy things, so where does that leave me?
It makes me think of the many men and women who struggled during the Great Depression. I think it was hardest for parents who longed to provide for their families yet couldn’t because there were no jobs. Many men suffered great mental anxiety because societal problems compromised their role as caregivers in their homes. Part of me wonders if that is why we sometimes equate our self-worth with the quality of our careers.
Do I do the same thing? Maybe I don’t base my worth necessarily on my job status. Perhaps I base it on other things like my obedience to personal goals, feeling needed by people around me, or in how virtuously I’m living.
Following through with my post yesterday, I pondered a lot in my daily Ashtanga sequence what makes me a meaningful existence? Then, as sat practicing my pranayama near the end a profound thought struck me. “Doing this sequence does not add to or diminish my worth. It helps me remember and accept myself as I truly am.”
I love what church leader Joy D. Jones said during General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.
Let me point out the need to differentiate between two critical words: worth and worthiness. They are not the same. Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us. Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth. “God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever.”
Making daily goals and working cannot replace a firm understanding of my worth as a person. So, when I do yoga tomorrow, I want to be less of a self-critic and more of an understanding observer. For, “When we understand our worth, we move differently.” I’d say we all think about ourselves differently as well. It’s not about the poses. It’s about remembering and recognizing we have great worth, while observing our physical and spiritual changes through meditational movement.
Recently, my friend asked me a very jarring question. She asked, “If your parents weren’t so strong in their religion and marriage, do you think you would still be active in your religion?”
This is what I call a “What if. . . ” type of question. It has no right or wrong answer and it lies within the philosophical world of impossibility. This question did cause me to reflect deeply on the decisions which brought me where I am now.
I really am lucky. I have had hardships in my life, but one of the greatest blessings I have is my childhood with my parents and siblings. For those who don’t know, I have six siblings. We all have our fair share of stubborn habits and mindsets, but I believe we are all firmly set as good people. We had the greatest privilege to witness for ourselves what happens when parents love each other and nurture each of their children.
Now, my parents aren’t perfect. But they are loving and they helped me know what I want for myself.
So, thinking on my parents and all they gave me, it is hard for me to know what I would be like without them or my home life. But a loving home and good examples are not enough to define the character of an individual soul.
I can think of many instances where I had the opportunity to turn away from all I believe.
There were the turbulent years between the age of 10 and 13, when my family faced a great personal challenge I can’t readily discuss. Suffice it to say, I felt my whole world would crumble away because of the confusion and pain we all felt.
When I was in middle school, my classmates, especially the boys, bullied me mercilessly and it took years for me to really believe I was beautiful. Many of them went to church with me.
When I first started college, I was in an apartment with roommates who did not make smart or moral decisions concerning dating and other things.
There were multiple lost loves, lonely days, mental and emotional struggles, and crushed hopes which in retrospect could have turned me onto a different life course. But that didn’t happen.
I don’t think it was necessarily because of in the moment dramatic declarations of belief. It came from the small every day decisions. It reminds me of an analogy I heard at my sister Amanda’s graduation. Though I don’t know the course, I remember its principle.
The speaker stated in summary, “Imprison a man behind a wall of opposition and he will do all he can to escape from it. But may that same man draw a circle about himself of moral principles and never dare cross it.” This touched me deeply when I heard it. I wondered if I had done the same thing for myself. In that moment, I knew I had.
Having this in my mind, I told my friend who asked me the aforementioned question, “I have always believed in God and His commandments. It is second nature to me. Since I was young I decided I would be obedient and so I was. It was what I wanted to do.”
I remember being eight years old and being baptized. I was so excited and knew as young as I was the decision I made was right. I remember forgiving my brother and realizing with gratitude I had a spiritual gift of forgiveness. I remember so many small precious moments where I prayed and knew God heard me. The thing about these times is it is so hard for me to adequately express their impact in my life.
In order to understand them, I have taken time in my life to sit still and reflect on how I felt in these moments. I know I am where I am now because I believed in myself and in God’s promises. I can see it in how I treat others and myself. I can see it in my hopes for the future. I can see it in how I view my past self.
Now we come to the title of my post. I have a firm belief every person is capable of great good and evil. Before the fact, we must firmly set in our minds the image of our success against evil. It isn’t a matter of “what if. . . ” as it is “I will. . . “. If we give in to hardship or evil it will not be because we did not have to ability to fight and conquer, but because we had not predetermined the worth and strength of our soul. Especially when enhanced by our love for and belief in God and the Savior.
Before we face the inevitable temptations and trials of life, whether it is divorce, wayward children, disease, death, natural disaster or peer pressure to give in to contemporary ideas, we must believe we will be strong enough to withstand it.
We must believe the best of ourselves. We must expect our souls are bright enough to withstand anything. The truth is we are strong enough. Only we decide the limits on our eternal potential.
As many of you know, there are currently protests being held at BYU concerning its standing on its Honor Code, specifically for those who identity as LGBTQ. I learned about what had happened a few weeks ago when the changes to the Honor code first came about. Basically, in order to correct a misunderstanding, BYU reaffirmed its stance on Homosexual and other behaviors for its students. Elder Paul V. Johnson stated in his letter, “Same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles in the honor code.”
Later, the church issued this statement in response to rallies happening on temple square. “The teachings of the church and the policies of our universities are consistent with eternal principles, and seek to encourage and strengthen relationships that lead to eternal covenants made with God . . . The church and its leaders continue to teach that though there may be disagreement on an issue or policy, we should treat one another with love, respect and kindness.”
This has been so hard for me because I know there are many people, leaders and students combined who are suffering right now. There are so many voices pushing and pulling us in so many directions. These policies, in light of social reforms we now face seem very unfair, biased and cruel. So many ask, “Why don’t we have the right to express our feelings?” I have many friends who have petitioned for me to join with them in gaining support for their LGBTQ friends who are protesting.
I have pondered this very deeply and have come to a very concrete conclusion. We must support our leaders in their decisions and continue forward in faith. I feel very strongly the adversary is trying his absolute hardest to discredit our leaders and make us believe they are not inspired in their decisions, decisions which have come with much prayer and faith.
I talked to my father about this very issue several days ago. He told me, “Things are going to get worse before they get better, but God’s laws and commandments will not change even as society does. It is up to us individually to choose whose side we are on. There are not as many fence sitters now as there used to be.”
I. “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38): When our leaders speak on matters of doctrine, God speaks
When we question the decisions our leaders make based on doctrine set by the church we essentially question God’s decisions. President Nelson said in his BYU speech from last year, “Truth is based upon the laws God has established for the dependability, protection, and nurturing of His children. Eternal laws operate in and affect each of our lives, whether we believe them or not.”
Our leaders have established these truths on Celestial Marriage out of love, not hate.
I think it is very easy to feel victimized when our opinions are put in opposition to the words of those in authority. History is ripe with examples of unrighteous dominion. The reality though in our day is this. Those who are our leaders are imperfect people trying to do the best they can. These imperfect people, make critical decisions which affect all of us. Bishops have to daily hold interviews with those who have made wrong decisions. For BYU church leaders, they must make decisions in compliance to educational policies and the Lord’s policies. For President Nelson and the Apostles they must regularly speak on God’s standards and commandments.
They do this because they love us. God himself said, “For this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) In order for God’s plan of happiness to go forth, he appoints leaders to speak for him to establish very plainly what we as a people must do. This at times is very hard to accept and must be taken and followed by faith. President Nelson said,
In doing so, sometimes we are accused of being uncaring as we teach the Father’s requirements for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. But wouldn’t it be far more uncaring for us not to tell the truth—not to teach what God has revealed?
President Nelson, The Love and Laws of God
The real answer is they can’t. If they did make decisions contrary to the laws which God has set they would lose their position and God would call others to take their place. For it is as President Nelson said, “Thus our commission as apostles is to teach nothing but truth. That commission does not give us the authority to modify divine law.”
We all have something we struggle with and try to understand. That is why we have leaders to guide us.
2. President Nelson and other church leaders have made it very clear what God’s standard is.
Here is what President Nelson recently said not six months ago.
In recent years, many countries, including the United States, have legalized same-sex marriage. As members of the Church, we respect the laws of the land and abide by them, including civil marriage. The truth is, however, that in the beginning—in the beginning—marriage was ordained by God! And to this day it is defined by Him as being between a man and a woman. God has not changed His definition of marriage.
I don’t know everything. I don”t understand why so many struggle with different sexual attractions or other matters of identity. But I trust our church leaders and believe Christ is at the head.
3. God has set his standard out of love and to protect us from eternal consequences.
I believe there are issues and consequences hidden within these behaviors which are of eternal significance. Just because it is not readily apparent doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Now is the time to really think about WHAT we believe, especially concerning the nature of eternal families and personal salvation. It s as President Nelson said,
My dear brothers and sisters, divine laws are God’s gifts to His children. Just as our family’s rules kept our children safe as they grew to adulthood, just as divine laws governing the heart and the flight of airplanes keep you safe on an operating table or while traveling, abiding by God’s laws will keep you safe as you progress toward eventual exaltation. Let me say it as succinctly as I can: As you abide by God’s laws, you are progressing toward exaltation.
-President Russell M. Nelson, The Love and Laws of God
Perhaps we as of yet do not fully understand the true principle of eternal marriage beyond what we see. I think it becomes easier as time moves on, we grow in maturity and see for ourselves the fruits of living a righteous life.
I loved the quote from Harry Emerson Fosdick Elder cook shared in his speech entitled “The Eternal Importance of Righteous Choices.
“The tragic evils of our life are so commonly unintentional. We did not start out for that poor, cheap goal. That aim was not in our minds at all. … That is why the road to hell is always paved with good intentions, and that is why I am not celebrating high ideals, lofty aims, fine purposes, grand resolutions, but am saying instead that one of the most dangerous things in the world is to accept them and think you believe in them and then neglect the day-by-day means that lead to them. Ah, my soul, look to the road you are walking on! He who picks up one end of a stick picks up the other. He who chooses the beginning of a road chooses the place it leads to. It is the means that determines the end.”
Harry Emerson Fodsick, Living Under Tension (1941)
I hope we can all choose to continue forward in faith and not choose the more dangerous path. Sometimes harmful behavior is composed as a cry for allowing man his innate freedoms. Sometimes great evil is painted as the greater good for all mankind. But evil works lead to immediate gratification and satisfaction. Righteousness builds brick by brick the eternal and consequential.
4. It is hard not to give in to pressures to accept new social reforms, but we must stand firm with what God has told us.
I am grateful we understand LGBTQ matters better and turn more and more towards those involved with love and understanding rather than apathy and shame. But I have learned especially lately how it is hard to support individuals in their trials and not be forced to conform to their beliefs so they can feel more comfortable. Peer pressure lately to give in and let go of old ideas on marriage and love has been so strong.
I love what President Oaks said last General Conference, “This means we are commanded to love everyone, since Jesus’s parable of the good Samaritan teaches that everyone is our neighbor. But our zeal to keep this second commandment must not cause us to forget the first, to love god with all our heart, soul and mind.”
This means if God tells us his standards for Celestial Marriage we must not forget them in light of sometimes louder voices pushing us to accept the opposite. But this doesn’t mean we become hateful, rude or toxic in how we talk about other people. No matter what they choose to do.
5.. We must choose to believe and move forward with faith even if we don’t understand all aspects of God’s laws.
Sometimes people call obedience “following blindly”. In my mind, I can think of no better being to follow blindly then God and the leaders he has chosen. But it is difficult to do so when one is so directly and negatively affected by God’s standards.
I speak from experience. For the longest time I have struggled with the principle of polygamy and why the Lord established it among his people. I have read countless articles, talks and other materials on the matter. But still in my heart it is something which has bothered me since I was old enough to understand. The root of my fear lies in difficult thoughts on what it would mean for me if I were asked to live it.
Through many prayers, tears and councils with my father and leaders I have put my feelings on the matter aside. Does it mean I understand polygamy, especially as a principle of mercy and love? No. But I know God loves his children and I am okay not fully understanding everything yet.
6. Lastly, if we want to know the truth of these things, we must seek out answers for ourselves.
I want to echo what President Nelson said again. He says it so much better then I do.
My dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to seek earnestly a confirmation from the Spirit that what I have told you is true and is from the Lord. He has declared that we may seek knowledge from heaven and expect to receive it: “If thou shalt ask,” the Lord promised, “thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge.”13
Ask your Heavenly Father if we truly are the Lord’s apostles and prophets. Ask if we have received revelation on this and other matters. Ask if these five truths are, in fact, true.
I am very sorry I cannot support many of you at this time. But I have made my decision. I really hope all of us can find peace amidst all of this and feel God’s love despite the confusion and sorrow.
I’ve decided to start recording my notes for this Come Follow Me Program this year, emphasis on the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. When I write here on my blog, I feel somewhat like a teacher but I also learn so much more as I organize my thoughts. For those who do not know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. If you like, you can read through these notes.
Usually I write reviews on movies, books or shows but lately I have been feeling very introspective. Mostly I have thought of how important it is to add my voice to the many others who talk about Jesus Christ, his love and gospel with confidence. As the years pass by, the more I notice people turning away from religion onto other paths. Much of this is happening I feel because we aren’t speaking about what we know and believe.
The Tree of Life is God’s Love, its fruit is his love manifested through the coming of Jesus Christ and his infinite Atonement. Leading to the Tree is the Iron Rod, or word of God along a strait and narrow path. Surrounding this path are the mists of darkness, or Satan’s temptations, the Large and Spacious Building, or the Pride of the World and the River, the filthiness of the world.
For this week’s initiative, we are studying 1 Nephi 8-10. So many thoughts and memories have passed through my mind as I have studied this week. Specifically, where I am on the path of discipleship. The major themes to my study have included, I. Where I am on the path of discipleship, II. The different groups heading to the tree, III. God’s infinite love in giving us commandments and a way back to Him and IV. How I can listen to the Holy Ghost amidst other louder voices.
I. Where I am on the Path of Discipleship
In the Come follow Me manual, there was a specific phrase which really struck me. It stated, “Lehi’s vision offers an invitation to reflect on where you are—and where you are going—in your personal journey to know the Savior and feel His love. President.” (Pg. 10, Para 1)
I thought a lot on my decisions thus far in life. I grew up much of my time alone amidst my peers. I went through much of school set to sea so to say among many differing ideas and fads. I wondered how I was able to stay so faithful despite such opposition. It is too easy to say I just knew. But reflecting back, I now know I had a habit of reading the Book of Mormon from a young age.
In reading and pondering I found an anchor in Christ. As an adult I feel a need to continue forward and find new ways to strengthen my faith the Savior. It is more then just reading sometimes or going to church once a week. It is immersing ourselves in God’s love. For “Perfect love casteth out all fear” (Moroni 8:16) and leads us to find eternal happiness with a being who loves us in such a Godly manner.
To love God is not foolishness it is enlightenment.
It is as Arakawa stated in Fullmetal Alchemist, “A lesson without pain is meaningless. That’s because no one can gain without sacrificing something. But by enduring that pain and overcoming it, he shall obtain a powerful, unmatched heart. A fullmetal heart.” I think of Christ when I hear this statement because he gave the ultimate sacrifice to save us all. I think of myself as I face life’s challenges and carry my own personal trials. I also think of who I am meant to become by choosing this life of faith.
II. The Different Groups Heading to the Tree
There were three groups going to the tree. The first did not take hold of the Iron Rod, or word of God and fell away, swallowed by the mists of darkness. The second clung to the Rod, partake of the Fruit but then fell into the river or onto forbidden paths because of those who mocked them in the great and spacious building. The Last, held continually to the Rod and humbly fell and partook of the fruit, ignoring the mockery of others.
I actually thought of a principle I learned in yoga a few months ago. The idea, whenever we do the physical part of yoga or the mental exercises also involved, the level of our experience depends on our commitment to doing what is asked of us. Regular practice is infinitely better in the end then random, uncertain, or occasional participation.
I also felt such a strong desire to help all those going to the Tree. I thought so many times, “There must be a way to save everyone”. In a talk I heard this last week how Heavenly Father and Christ will do everything within their power to save everyone according to the laws of justice. They also will do nothing which will impede our freedom to choose for ourselves the path we want. It is hard for me to imagine not turning to God or purposefully breaking his Commandments, given in love to keep us spiritually safe. But all people have their own lives and must choose for themselves.
I actually had several dreams this week with different situations where I tried, most of the time in vain, to help those around me who were in danger. I could see it, yet I couldn’t force anyone else to listen. I talked to my mother about it and she said I worry because I cannot help everyone. But when I thought deeper I realized it wasn’t my burden to carry. It is Christ’s. Though I wish I could fix so much happening in the world around me, my primary responsibility is to see to it I find my way back to Him. Miracles happen as we simply live a Christ centered life.
III. God’s Infinite Love
I recently listened to the late President Monson’s talk entitled “Keep the Commandments“, as I pondered the reasons behind commandments and also how to discern God’s voice. One particular statement he said really touched me. He said, “He who created us and who loves us perfectly knows just how we need to live in order to obtain the greatest happiness.”
We hear so often how God loves us, I wonder if we know what it truly means. I know for myself, it is like hearing your parents tell you they love you. I hear their words, but I don’t see their happiness when I was born, or their worry as I became ill. I can’t see the years in which they watched me, nor can I understand what it is like to see me grow from a child into an adult.
But I can understand a small fraction of what it means to have God’s love when I hear, ““God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16 God loves us so much he sent His Son to save us from a desolate life, wandering, lost and spiritually cut off. He loves us so much that he gave us this life to grow and choose for ourselves to find him again.
IV. How I can Listen to the Holy Ghost
Again, I pondered a lot as I listened to President Monson’s talk on the commandments. When speaking to men in the church he boldly stated,
We are surrounded by persuasive voices, beguiling voices, belittling voices, sophisticated voices, and confusing voices. I might add that these are loud voices. I admonish you to turn the volume down and to be influenced instead by that still, small voice which will guide you to safety. Remember that one with authority placed his hands on your head after you were baptized, confirming you a member of the Church and saying, “Receive the Holy Ghost.”5 Open your hearts, even your very souls, to the sound of that special voice which testifies of truth. As the prophet Isaiah promised, “Thine ears shall hear a word … , saying, This is the way, walk ye in it.”6May we ever be in tune, that we might hear this comforting, guiding voice which will keep us safe.
-Thomas S. Monson, Keep the COmmandments 2015
In church today, one of the speakers said, “Without the Spirit we don’t have Christ.” I thought about this and realized how much I knew is and will always be based on my willingness to seek God’s guidance and hear his voice. This is so hard at time because it really does become so loud.
I paired this with the last part of my reading from 1 Nephi 10. In it, not only does Lehi expound further on their people in Israel and Christ’s role as Savior but his son Nephi, not understanding all his father said, desired to learn more. He said,
“17 . . . I, Nephi, was ddesirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the eHoly Ghost, which is the fgift of God unto gall those who diligently seek him, as well in times of hold as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
18 For he is the asame yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
19 For he that diligently aseeketh shall find; and the bmysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the cHoly Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the dcourse of the Lord is one eternal round.”
I wondered what it is like to diligently seek and receive such answers. Then I remembered times in my life where I had deep questions about where I should go or what I should do. Sometimes I received direct answers. But that was usually only after I had undergone a severe trial or learned a profound truth. Usually, I get small promptings in the small, quiet moments in my day.
As it says in Moroni 10:5 “. . . by the power of the Holy Ghost (we) may know the truth of all things.” But the key lies in our desires and our intent. If we earnestly seek God, he will always manifest himself to us.
I am so grateful for God’s love and how infinite it is. I listened to a song recently that really maybe ponder my place in this world. It also made me wonder how in all his love he created such a beautiful world for each of us. He also gave us the chance to choose him of our own volition, knowing we would grow and become like him. I leave with the lyrics of the song “Saturn” by Sleeping at Last and hope any who read this have a wonderful week!
You taught me the courage of stars before you left How light carries on endlessly, even after death With shortness of breath, you explained the infinite How rare and beautiful it is to even exist I couldn’t help but ask For you to say it all again I tried to write it down But I could never find a pen I’d give anything to hear You say it one more time That the universe was made Just to be seen by my eyes -Sleeping at Last, “Saturn”
(No glasses. now you all know what I look like without them.)
Whenever I find myself trying to understand self love, I reflect on earlier teachings from my childhood. For those who do not know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of the main teachings we learn since we are very young is that we are children of God, with a divine nature and incredible potential. The definition of divine is, according to google dictionary, “of, from, or like God or a god”. Worth is “the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.” Therefore, whenever I would hear I had divine worth, they meant Icame from God. This is an incredible concept. It is as Elaine Cannon once said, “There are two important days in a woman’s life: The day she is born and the day she finds out why.” (SOURCE) But as it happens, because I have heard this for so long and SO MANY TIMES I forget the magnitude this small truth has. This is because such beautiful truths tend to become lost amidst louder more persuasive voices. Since I was a teenager, this has been especially hard for me. It was hard to think of myself having divine worth when so many voices in and outside my head screamed the very opposite.
They tell me how to be beautiful, as if I am not already. They tell me how to talk, act, “fit in”, find love, become a successful adult, etc in order to become someone of value.
There is the key. One of the worst lies we tell ourselves, myself included, is there is so much we need to do in order to gain worth, to be something of value.
For myself, it has always been “I am not my ideal body size or image of beauty. And until I achieve it I am not good enough. . . for myself or others.” Former President Thomas Monson said, “We are surrounded by persuasive voices, beguiling voices, belittling voices, sophisticated voices, and confusing voices. I might add that these are loud voices.” (source) I also think we are often one of the loudest voices putting ourselves down and limiting our perspective.
But the truth is this. As Rosemary Wixom said “Our divine nature has nothing to do with our personal accomplishments, the status we achieve, the number of marathons we run, or our popularity and self-esteem. Our divine nature comes from God. It was established in an existence that preceded our birth and will continue on into eternity.” (source)
We come from a God, who made us after his image, gave us this earth and loves us perfectly. THAT makes all the difference. At least, it does for me.
As Victor Hugo wrote, ““The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves—say rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”
For myself, I feel I should ponder deeper who I REALLY am and build myself up. What does give me strength is to know God and Jesus Christ love me and understand me. This means they know my weaknesses but it also means they know the goodness in me and the GREATNESS.
As many know, I lived a year and a half in Southern Russia while serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was an incredible experience for me that seems impossible to really describe. I look back now on where I was before, how hesitant I was to serve and if seems truly unbelievable I am where I am today.
For those who don’t know, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day, often referred to as the Mormon church sends missionaries all over the world to teach others about our beliefs. We go in pairs talking to many people on the streets, in buses, in people’s homes and throughout many different countries. Some learn new languages on their missions. But for each person it is a unique experience.
So, how do we know where we will serve? We are called by a member of our Quorum of the twelve, individually to serve in a specific area around the world. One person could be called to China while another to Arkansas. Currently there are over 400 missions around the world! Personally, I love asking members of our church about the places they have served.
We fill out paperwork, go to the doctor, have our wisdom teeth pulled if necessary so we can hand it in. Once each person submits it, they wait to see where they will go. That means. . . we have NO IDEA where we will serve until we receive a call letter.
As for myself, I decided to go on a mission in the middle of a teaching job. I was working as a music teaching at a middle school, while living at home with my family. Honestly, I was not very happy. I felt I was not learning enough, as though I was stuck after finishing college. I talked to my parents a lot about how I felt and just could not place what it was that was missing in my life at the time. Honestly, I assumed it was because I was not married. But something happened two months after beginning my job.
Every six months we have something called General Conference where members of our church gather from all over the world to listen to our church leaders speak on matters of religion. In one specific session October 2014 I was listening to President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency speak on receiving personal revelation from God. As I listened to him I felt strongly I should go on a mission. I dismissed this feeling but within minutes I thought again I needed to serve on a mission. This time, it hit me as a wall of emotion and I started to cry.
(Also in Krasnadar!)
In time, I followed though and decided to serve a mission rather than continue teaching. I was eventually called to serve in the Rostov-na-Donu Mission in Russia speaking the Russian language.
Did I know Russian? Well. . . no.
Did I learn Russian? Well. . . yes.
Did I see many amazing cities? Art? Museums? Book stores? Yes.
Russia is an immensely diverse and fascinating place. But that is not what I value most from my time there.
(A special place for me in Astrakhan, Russia.)
Words cannot describe the soul refining, achingly hard, beautiful and life changing experiences I had among the Russian people. There are people there who I love so much and pray for every day. I caught a glimpse of how God must feel for each of us.
Through a series of posts I would like to share my experiences with you all. Please know this. I believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the one church on earth led by living prophets and apostles called by God to gather his scattered people around the world. This church is led by Jesus Christ, who died, resurrected and lives to help each one of us to return to God, our loving Heavenly Father.
I know Heavenly Father is aware of and loves every individual who lived, lives and will live upon this earth. I know these things because I prayed to know the truthfulness of these things.
I also know Joseph Smith was called as a modern day prophet to restore profound, eternal truths of authority, family, ordinances, and doctrine lost in time as many denominations of churches shifted from Christ’s original church. Many who read this probably have heard some crazy things about him. Let me just say this. If ever you study his life, you will see the many children he lost, the many times he was imprisoned, mobbed, tarred and feathered, ridiculed, betrayed, beaten and mocked for what he taught. Let me ask, what man in his right mind would do such a thing for a lie?
I felt I should start writing these posts and I hope, perhaps, I can help someone. Or better yet, I hope I may lead you to the one who can really help you. God is the true source of life’s answers.
I hope you feel Heavenly Father’s love for you this day. The world is a truly beautiful place!