Tag Archives: future

The Bigger Picture

It is hard to have hope sometimes.  This is simply because we do not see the big picture and we allow ourselves to despair and to get discouraged.  I love the beginning of this talk by Dallin H. Oaks.  He says:

“In the famous movie The African Queen, two refugees from World War I violence in East Africa are trying to reach the relative safety of Lake Victoria. After surviving many near disasters, their boat, The African Queen, is stranded in a marsh. Unable to tell which way the current is flowing and surrounded by high growth, the two refugees become disoriented and discouraged. At the end of their energy and faith, they are about to give up and die.

Then, in a moment of high drama, the camera through which we are viewing their peril rises, and with new perspective we see their true location. Out of sight to them, but just a few meters away, are the long-sought liberating waters of Lake Victoria.

The gospel of Jesus Christ explains our journey in mortality and shows us our destination in eternity. Like the refugees on The African Queen, we are fleeing evil and disaster. There are obstacles all around us. We labor hard to reach our goals. Sometimes we see no signs of progress. We can become exhausted and discouraged. We may even lose sight of our destination. But we must not give up. If we could only see above our current circumstances and know our true location on the journey to eternal life, we would realize what great progress we are making.”

With Christ we are able to see a bigger picture.  As we rely on Him we are able to get through the tougher times that we have in our lives.  If you want to read the entire talk.  Feel free by following this link:  The Gospel Culture

Something to think about…

Here’s something to think about as the new year approaches…

“The Future is as bright as your faith.” -Thomas S. Monson

Without hope, ye must needs be in despair

I would like to share some scriptures that I read this morning about hope.  They are found in the Book of Mormon:  Another Testament of Jesus Christ in Moroni 10:20-24:

 “20 Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity.

21 And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope.

22 And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.

23 And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me.

24 And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief.”

If we have faith in Christ we can do all things that are expedient unto Him.  Even if we are in despair, doubt, or loss when we perhaps have not been iniquitous, we can have faith in the Lord and He will heal us.  Many times people experience a loss of hope when dealing with depression, anxiety, or grief.  A lot of times it is hard to see the big picture and realize that what is happening now is not going to last forever.  It is not easy to believe that either when others try to tell you.

I know that as we look to Christ our vision is enlarged and He helps us to have hope and faith in the future.  As we envelop these qualities in our lives, along with charity, we are filled with happiness and pure joy.  He is there for us.

An Uncertain Future

This post is directed mostly at those in my age group who are trying to make life decisions such as whom to marry or what career to pursue, but it can also apply to those older and younger.

This rest of this post comes from a devotional speech entitled “On Becoming Adults in God’s Kingdom,” given at Brigham Young University-Idaho by Alan L. Wilkins.   (You can read the whole address here if you wish) He says:

Many of those with whom I have counseled feel “stuck” in a way similar to those in a video clip some of you may have seen.

Why don’t they start walking? Why don’t they see that this is an escalator not an elevator and that they have the power to do something to help themselves? As silly as this seems, I think many emerging adults have similar feelings. For example, young people in the Church get on an escalator of sorts when they enter Primary and Young Men/Young Women. Each year they move to the next class and work together with the help of teachers, advisers, and parents to earn progress awards. However, when they get to college the world opens up and the “escalator” stops moving them along in life. Now they have to make their own decisions and progress. What will I be when I grow up? Whom should I marry? How will I know if I’m making progress in life and in the gospel? These are questions that require individuals to develop their own identity and relationships and there isn’t a succession of graduated classes and progress awards to help you decide how you are doing. So many get “stuck” and feel helpless in ways similar to those on the escalator.

If you are an emerging adult in similar situations, you may not feel it is particularly helpful to have those of us who have selected a career and found a marriage partner to tell you to hurry up! Our well-intentioned advice could merely add to your stress and your anxiety.

Advice from a prophet-grandfather: Do your best today

 Let me share with you the counsel I received when I was your age that was most helpful to me and what I tried to do with it. Because of who gave me the counsel and its foundation in sound doctrine, I believe it applies to you in your current situation. It came from my grandfather, Harold B. Lee, who was at the time serving as a counselor in the First Presidency of the Church.

I was in my third year at BYU and was struggling with the decision about what to be when I grew up.  I was also looking for an eternal companion.

Grandfather said, “I’m impressed that you worry too much about the future.” My heart sank. I was indeed worried about the future and the way we were starting out didn’t give me much hope for getting straight answers to my questions.

“Alan,” he asked me, “do you think I could have planned my career?” He said that if had known what he was headed for he might have been like Jonah and run from these assignments. He went on: “The only counsel that makes sense for me to give is this: Don’t live your life worrying about the future. You only have today. You can’t do anything about yesterday either except repent or feel good. So here is my counsel about finding a career: Get up each day and recapture your testimony. That is, do the things that bring the spirit into your life: repent, study the scriptures, and pray for guidance. As you feel the enlightenment of the Spirit, consider what you can do that day to follow the impressions you get. Have faith; the Lord will guide you step by step, ‘line upon line, here a little and there a little.’”3

 Application to finding a career

As I pondered his counsel and tried to apply it, I began to realize he was telling me I shouldn’t just ask in prayer about an ultimate career and expect a final answer but that I should take action each day to explore and observe and try different options so that I had better information about what could make sense for me and so that I learned to be ready for new opportunities as they arose. Essentially I needed to actively study it out in my mind before asking the Lord.

I was also helped around this same period of time by the counsel of one of the Brethren in General Conference. I was seeking answers as I have said by praying for the right career to pursue and I decided to go to conference fasting and praying, hoping that I would learn something and feel something about that decision. Elder Hartman Rector of the Seventy spoke saying he had the impression that some in the audience were wondering about what career to pursue. Wow, thought I, the Lord answers prayers! But then he said: “I’m not sure that the Lord really cares what we choose as a vocation, whether we are a plumber or a librarian––so long as we keep the commandments of God.”5 The implication of his message for me was: Any worthy profession that you can do well enough to be able to support a family and have time to serve in the Church would be fine. Don’t waste your time trying to find the perfect profession. Find a good profession and do the best you can, keeping in perspective what is really important in life.

I can just hear my grandfather adding that if the Lord needs you to do something else as you are going after a career that fits these parameters, He can nudge you in a different direction, especially if you are getting up and recapturing your testimony every day.

Application to finding your eternal companion

I realized as I thought about grandfather’s counsel that I was too inclined in searching for a companion to ask for revelation about whether I should marry someone even before I knew her very well. My prayers in both finding a career and a spouse were too theoretical and too focused on finding my true calling in life or my perfect companion. I was hoping to have the lights on my future life’s path turned on way down the road to remove all uncertainty rather than doing what Nephi did as he returned for the third time to get the plates of brass from Laban and was “led by the spirit not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”6 Nephi was guided along the way while he was in motion and as he opened his heart and mind to the Lord to help him take the next steps. No wonder one of my grandfather’s favorite hymns was “Lead, Kindly Light:” “one step enough for me.”

How can I tell that I am making progress along the way?

 So how can emerging adults have a sense of meaning and progress as they move through this life stage if you haven’t yet found a career or a spouse? Observers of emerging adults suggest that the predominant characteristics of this stage are feelings of uncertainty, tinkering with options, and hesitancy to make long-term commitments. One way my grandfather seemed to address the uncertainty he faced as he moved from one job or career to another was to do his best with each assignment. He wasn’t just tinkering but sought to learn all he could and work very hard. It was often his performance in one setting that led others to invite him into another career setting. Living fully in each day, then, was his best preparation for the future. 

President Packer taught a similar lesson as he experienced his own uncertainties as a young pilot in the Air Force who was assigned for only brief periods to a variety of locations. He realized that he began to assume that he wouldn’t be in an assignment for very long so he didn’t fully unpack or settle in, didn’t try to make friends, and generally felt quite lonely and miserable. He decided that wherever he went he would settle down as if “for the duration.” He would make his quarters “homey” by unpacking and organizing his belongings, hanging pictures and decorating somehow. He would get to know others and make friends. It was the difference between misery and happiness for him.7

Neither President Lee nor President Packer saw themselves as just “passing through.” They invested their attention and best efforts in what they were doing at that time in their lives. We can apply these principles to our membership in the wards and stakes of the Church. Some emerging adults in the Church feel that they need to have a significant Church calling to feel they are needed and useful. I have heard some of them in young single adult wards complain there just aren’t enough callings to go around. Others become fairly cynical and give up on young single adult wards as places to serve and progress in the gospel. They dismiss the importance of this opportunity and say the young single adult ward is just “play church” much like “playing school” or “playing hospital” where children pretend to do grown-up things. Everyone is young and seems to be active, they say, and others don’t seem to have big problems so why worry and take it too seriously?

Yet others substitute having fun for making progress spiritually. They see the young single adult ward as a social scene “meet market” (m-e-e-t or m-e-a-t) where they can look for cute guys or girls and hang out together. They tended to ward-hop and try to avoid significant callings so that they can “shop around.”

None of these perspectives is particularly helpful or appropriate it seems to me. Let me share with you briefly what one of our dear friends taught Margaret and me about a better way to see our opportunities to settle down as if “for the duration” even if we won’t be in a particular ward for long and even without a formal calling.

In one ward we attended, we observed a couple, Sandy and Nancy, who seemed to know everyone in the ward and were involved in helping them though neither was involved in a calling in which they would be expect them to do so. When we asked Sandy about this he told us an interesting story. At the end of a year when he served as elders quorum president in a BYU ward, his bishop thanked him for his service and told him that he wanted to give others the opportunity to serve so he was recommending that the stake president release Sandy.

Furthermore, he explained, “I’m not going to give you a formal calling, Sandy. But I call you to be a Christian. I call you to notice those who sit alone in church and sit with and get to know them. I call you to walk with those who walk alone and find those who need help and pray for inspiration to see how you or others can help them.”

Sandy explained how awkward it felt initially to put himself forward in those ways. However, he related that this was the most meaningful year of Church service he had ever had. He met people he would never have known and found the Lord inspiring him to see needs he had been unaware of as an elders quorum president. He was involved in reactivating several people, doing missionary work as he helped others to change a flat tire, and giving blessings to others in the hospital. His life was full and more meaningful than ever. When they married, he and Nancy had committed they would continue to be Christians thereafter.

Brothers and sisters, we have all covenanted to be Christians. As President Eyring reminded us in the recent General Conference, Alma taught his people that baptism is a covenant to 1) be charitable (for example, “to bear one another’s burdens”); 2) “stand as witnesses of God at all times, in all things, and in all places that ye may be in…”; and 3) to endure to the end in doing these things.8

We don’t have to have a “significant” or even a formal calling in the Church to be of service and to live the gospel. Life is so much richer when we learn the great Christian paradox: only those who are willing to lose their lives in the service of the Savior will find themselves.9And paradoxically, those who forget themselves in these ways feel more fulfilled as emerging adults.

What I notice about these young adults is that as their eye becomes single to the glory of God through this service, they are filled with light.10 They become almost irresistible as future marriage partners and they grow in their experience and in their ability to receive God’s guidance in ways that make them much more employable as well.

My dear young friends, may God bless you as you find your paths to adulthood in God’s kingdom by putting away your fears for the future and living fully today! May you recapture your testimony each day so that the Lord can guide your steps and help you get “unstuck” on the escalators of your life. May you see what you can do today to find how you can contribute to the work of the world. May you develop wholesome friendships so the Lord can guide you in finding an eternal companion and in your work as fathers and mothers. And may you forget yourself in serving God and His children and thus find and become your best self is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Things that change our lives

What events or things in your life have caused you to change? Can you feel that change now?

Changing Events

Many times one thinks of life changing events as huge things.  But this does not always have to be the case.  We can have life-changing events in our lives that are not huge when we learn to recognize and rely on the Spirit of the Lord.

By this comment I do not wish to minimize the goodness and the importance of larger life changing events.  Anything that causes us to think and reflect on our life and our relationship with our Heavenly Father can be beneficial to us if we allow it to be.  If we allow ourselves to see how we can change in little ways for the better, we can have a change of life.

There is hope for our future.  Our Heavenly Father is there to lead and guide us in the paths that will bring us to true happiness.  We can each have a new life of hope as we rely on the Savior and His great love for us.

We have a Choice

When life-changing events or occurrences happen in our lives, we have a choice to make.  We get the choice of how we are going to let this event change our lives:  for the better or for the worse.

Satan would often have us turn bitter or angry or any other number of emotions while Heavenly Father would have us turn to love and caring and humility.

There are many examples of things that can be life-changing.  This day marks the tenth anniversary of one event that changed many people’s lives.  Ten years ago today the twin towers in New York City fell from terrorist attacks.  Many lost loved ones, and a whole nation was affected.

Each had a choice to make about how this event would impact his/her life.  How did it impact yours?  As you look back, have you kept that influence that it once had in your life?  Have you continued in your determination to change your life for the better?

I love these verses in the Book of Mormon in Alma 5:14,26:

“And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God?  Have ye received His image in your countenances?  Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?”

“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?”

Continuing with our Choice

Do we allow ourselves to become lazy in our fortitude and determination to follow the Lord?  In the promises that we have made to ourselves over time?

I know that I have done that in my life before.  I have allowed myself to not be as vigilant in doing those things that I have promised myself, and sometimes God, that I would do.  It is when this happens that I feel sorrow and when I get down on myself the most.  Let us strive to remind ourselves of our determinations.  Let us think back on those life changing moments and remember the great love that our Father in Heaven and Savior have shown us.

Let us remember who we represent and whose foundation we are built upon as it explains in Helaman 5:12:

“And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”

Good things falling apart

Do you ever find yourself hiding under the chair, not wanting to face your future?

Having Faith and Hope even when Bad things happen

I love this quote by Marilyn Monroe:

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

Our Heavenly Father knows us personally and He knows and understands the trials we face.  He is ever there for us.  I know that He wants what is truly best for us and helps us to reach our greatest potential.

Doubt

Sometimes, we allow doubt to overtake us.  We look forward to the future and we doubt that any good thing will happen.  I know that I did this as I was dealing with depression.  I didn’t see any good in my future, so I just wanted to die.  But, good things do happen.  We must strive to build our faith so that we can have more hope for the future, rather than doubt.

When we have strong, resilient faith, we know, even if not on the surface, that our Heavenly Father will provide for us and that we will be blessed.  So how do we build on our faith?  How do we have a firmer foundation for our faith?  I appreciate this quote by Elder Bruce R. McConkie.  He says:

“Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness.  It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God’s laws the greater will be the endowment of faith.”

So, what can you do to be more righteous or to be more obedient?  I challenge you to choose one thing that you can do this week to follow the Savior more, to be more righteous and obedient; and then do it.  I know that as you do you will be surprised at how your outlook changes and how your future looks brighter because you know the Lord is on your side.  He loves you.  He is ever there to help.

What are you afraid of?

Are you looking into the mirror of fear?

Fear consumes us…

There have been quite a few points in my life where fear has seemed to take the driver’s seat.  This particularly happened as I was in and out of hospitals during my recovery from depression.  I never thought I was going to get past some things because of the fear of rejection, failing, etc.

This is one of my journal entries when I was starting to come back to my senses after going through an extreme low in my depression:

My arms are going to be scarred up the rest of my life…. I am never going to want to go swimming again at least not with other people… I am going to be wearing long sleeves in the summer time… I’m going to be dealing with depression for the rest of my life now it seems and then depression is hereditary as well so that makes me feel like I shouldn’t have kids to pass it on to them…. I don’t want or wish this to anyone… Then who wants a wife or a mother who is depressed?  Who wants a friend who is depressed?  I feel worthless… I feel worthless a lot of the time… A lot of times I honestly wish I could just die… “

During this time I was allowing fear to control my thoughts and actions, instead of faith.  I think this is a very easy thing to allow to happen.  Are we focusing on the good that could possibly come from things?  Or are we stunting our growth by allowing ourselves to fear?

A Conscious Choice

One must make a conscious choice to not look into the mirror of fear.  When I was at a meeting with the President of Brigham Young University-Idaho, he answered a question about how we can overcome fear in our lives.  He gave the example of how we must consciously choose to look into the mirror of Christ instead of the mirror of fear.  The mirror of fear is dark and gloomy, and Satan is looking you in the face telling you that you can’t do it, while the mirror of Christ may still be a difficult journey, but He tells you that you can do it and that He will help you through.  President Clark continued to say:

“You will always have fears, but you don’t have to take counsel from them.”

Sometimes fear can be a good thing, leading us to choose the right.  But other times fear can be a detriment to our growth.  I think a lot of times we allow ourselves to be caught up in fear.

Christ is in the boat with us

There is the story in the New Testament about the disciples being in a boat when a storm was raging and Christ was sleeping.  The disciples became afraid and turned to Jesus.  It is in Mark 4: 37-40.  It reads as follows:

“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow; and they awake Him, and say unto Him; Master, carest thou not that we perish?

And He arose, and rebuked  the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful?  How is it that ye have no faith?”

We must remember in our lives that the Savior is in the boat with us.  He is there to help us through our storms in life.  As we have faith in Him, we can overcome.  Let us not forget and fear and let doubts stir our minds as the disciples may have at the time of the storm.  Let us remember that the Lord is able to do ALL things.  He well help us to overcome.

I invite you to please watch this video in its entirety.  You can overcome ALL things with Christ.