Tag Archives: purpose

Where are we going anyway?

I love how the little girl in this picture is touching the scar on Christ's hand.  He has repeatedly shown His love to us.  He knows us personally and has gone through all that we have gone through because of the atonement.  I am so grateful for my Savior.

I love how the little girl in this picture is touching the scar on Christ’s hand. He has repeatedly shown His love to us. He knows us personally and has gone through all that we have gone through because of the atonement. I am so grateful for my Savior.

Have you ever wondered where you are goiong in life? If your life even has a purpose? Or what’s the point of even being here? I know I have…And I have found comfort in the Lord’s plan of salvation. I have found comfort and answers in His scriptures. He does love us and He has a plan for each one of us. As we listen to the Holy Spirit, we can be assured that what we are doing is following the Lord’s plan for us.

Reality

What is reality?  What is real?  What makes us who we are?  Do we even exist?  Where did we come from?  Where are we going?  What is our purpose?  These questions and others have been around for centuries.  Both Plato and Aristotle reflected on these questions among others.

Our Father in Heaven has a plan for each of us.  We came to this earth after living with Him in a pre-mortal world.  We are here on earth to show that we will be worthy to live with our Father in Heaven again.  It is for us to choose Christ over the adversary.  Then, if we are faithful we will return to our Father in Heaven.

But, sometimes in life we still wonder what really is true, what really is real.  This is especially true with media and the internet.  People at times can create false images or pretend images of themselves or others.  So what is real?

Christ is real.  His atonement is real.  And His love and concern and care for us is very real.  We can choose life and choose things as they really are as we choose Him.

Preparation for eternity

Christ has prepared the way for us to return to our Father in Heaven through the atonement.

For a while now, I have been pondering on how we are to prepare in this life and how I personally can prepare for the future.  I recently started studying the Book of Mormon by marking every time it makes a reference to preparation or every time it mentions how some person prepares for something ahead of them.

I have found numerous times that the Lord prepares a way for us.  He prepares us for the trials that we face and the life that is ahead of us.  As we lean on Him and turn to Him, we are and will be prepared for what is ahead.

I like this quote about preparation from M. Russell Ballard.  He says:

“We prepare each day, right now, for eternal life.  If we are not preparing for eternal life, we are preparing for something else, perhaps something far less.”

We need to be preparing ourselves for those things that are eternal in life.  Those are the things of highest priority.  Are we preparing ourselves for eternal life?  Are we preparing ourselves to live with our Heavenly Father?  He has prepared the way for us.  Are we walking in that way?  Christ said in John 14:6:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

The way to prepare, once again we see, is by coming to Christ and leaning on Him.  It is accepting Him as our Savior and Redeemer.

Ways to Prepare

The following is a list of ways we can prepare to live with our Father in Heaven and to come closer to Christ that I have found in my study of the Book of Mormon so far (I have a lot more to go):

  1. Being obedient (1 Nephi 2)
  2. Praying in Faith (1 Nephi 2; 15:11; 16:24; 18:21)
  3. (Nephi) took nothing with him save it were his family, provisions, and tents. (1 Nephi 2:4)
  4. He built an altar of stones (1 Nephi 2:7)
  5. Having great desires to know the mysteries of God (1 Nephi 2:16)
  6. Cry unto the Lord (1 Nephi 2:16,18)
  7. Keep the commandments (1 Nephi 2:20,22; 15:11; 17:13; 20:18)
  8. Pray for mercy (1 Nephi 8:8)
  9. I, (Lehi) cast my eyes round about; that perhaps I might discover my family. (1 Nephi 8:13)
  10. Press Forward through mist of darkness (1 Nephi 8:21,24,30)
  11. Cling to or hold fast to the rod of iron, or the word of God (1 Nephi 8:24; 15:24)
  12. Heed not the scorn and persecution of the world and the worldly (1 Nephi 8:33)
  13. Exhort others with all the feeling of a tender parent (1 Nephi 8:37)
  14. Rely on the Redeemer (1 Nephi 10:6)
  15. Prepare the way for the Lord (1 Nephi 10:7,8)
  16. Receive the fullness of the Gospel of Christ (1 Nephi 10:14)
  17. Have faith on the Son of God (1 Nephi 10:17; 12:10,11)
  18. Diligently seek Christ (1 Nephi 10:17,19)
  19. Repent and come unto Him (1 Nephi 10:18; 13:40; 14:5)
  20. Desire, ponder in your heart (1 Nephi 11:1)
  21. Believe in the Son of the most high God (1 Nephi 11:1,6; 15:11)
  22. Seek to bring forth the Lord’s Zion (1 Nephi 13:37)
  23. Endure to the end (1 Nephi 13:37)
  24. Publish peace and tidings of great joy (1 Nephi 13:37)
  25. Come unto Him according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb (1 Nephi 13:41)
  26. Hearken unto the Lamb of God (1 Nephi 14:1; 15:24)
  27. Harden not your hearts against the Lamb of God (1 Nephi 14:2; 15:11)
  28. Gather together (1 Nephi 14:13)
  29. Arm yourself with righteousness and with the power of God (1 Nephi 14:14)
  30. Humble yourselves (1 Nephi 16:24; 18:4)
  31. Bear your journeyings without murmuring (1 Nephi 17:2; 18:16)
And the list goes on… There are so many ways that we can be preparing ourselves for eternal life.  These are just some of the ways that I have found in the first 50 pages of the Book of Mormon.  The scriptures are full of ways to become better people and to fill our lives with joy and peace.  
I know that as we prepare ourselves to live with our Heavenly Father again, our lives are filled with more meaning, purpose, and joy.  As we do these things, we are filled with the Spirit of the Lord and able to recognize our true identity as sons and daughters of God.

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.”

Women

Women have a great capacity to love and have empathy for others. There is sanctity in womanhood.

Women

Much has been said concerning women over the years.  Much has been shown concerning women over the years as well.  My heart aches for those women who sell their bodies for money and who allow their bodies to become merchandise.  There is sanctity in womanhood.

I mean, women have the ability to create children within them.  They have the gift of giving life to spirit sons and daughters of God.

I love the example of a friend I have at school, who knows that he should not date girls who watch shows that degrade women or laugh at jokes that do the same.

Quotes about Womanhood

There are some quotes that I simply love about the power and sanctity of womanhood.  This quote is by Quentin L. Cook:

“God placed within women divine qualities of strength, virtue, love, and the willingness to sacrifice to raise future generations of His spirit children.”

God trusts His daughters enough to raise future generations of His spirit children.  We are all the Lord’s and He waits for us to return to Him.  Quentin L. Cook continues to counsel women as he says:

“Women are confronted with many options and need to prayerfully consider the choices they make and how those choices affect the family.”

It has been said before that the mother is the ‘heart’ of the home.  What happens as the mother leaves the home to work?  Or decides to join groups or organizations that take her away from her family at night?  It is ultimately her decision with the Lord, but she must think of how it affects the family.

As a daughter of God

Throughout my teenage years, I participated in a Young Women’s at church.  Each week we would recite the Young Women’s theme.  It goes as follows:

“We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us and we love Him.  We will stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:

Faith

Divine Nature

Individual Worth

Knowledge

Choice and Accountability

Good Works

Integrity and

Virtue

We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values, we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.”

Surely this theme sums up what it means to be a daughter of God in the world today.  There is much that a woman must do to live up to her potential.

Closing Thoughts

Women are wonderful creatures and have great capacity to love and comfort those around them.  They have a special ability to feel and to be concerned and empathetic for others as they draw closer to Christ.  How do you treat the women in your lives?  How do you treat women in general?  Do you allow yourself to degrade the sanctity of womanhood in any way?  If you are a woman, what are you doing to live up to your divine potential?

What is Love (4)?

True love never fails

Love is…

I am sure that many of you have heard mention of or read the scripture describing what love is.  I wish to go into more detail.  The Scripture is found in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  These scriptures speak of charity, which is pure love:

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charityenvieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.”

In verse 13 it says:

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

In this scripture love, or charity, is described as having sixteen different traits.  I wish to spend a little time with each.

13.  Love Believes All Things

Do you always believe what those who love tell you?  I think of a movie that I just watched yesterday, Ella Enchanted.  In the movie, the prince falls in love with this lady named Ella.  Ella is commanded to kill her love when he proposes to her the night of his coronation.  She has been given a gift from her fairy godmother:  the gift of obedience.  So whenever someone orders her to do something she must follow.

Now, her mother told her that her heart and the feelings within her are stronger than any spell.  She overcomes the spell with her great love for the prince and does not end up killing him.  But the prince’s adviser, who set Ella up to the task, sees this and puts her in prison for attempting to kill the prince.  He then talks the prince into believing that Ella wanted to kill him all along.

Later, with the help of some friends, Ella is able to get out of prison and attempt to save the prince from the crown that the prince’s adviser had poisoned.  The prince still loves Ella, and when she seems to be in distress swings on a rope to save her.  In the midst of this attack of sorts, the prince is confronted with whether he will believe his adviser, who has raised him most of his life, or Ella, whom he loves dearly.  When the adviser’s snake tries to bite the prince, the prince ultimately knows who he should believe:  his love.

Do we believe all the that the one who truly loves us, our Savior, teaches?  Do we follow His counsel?  Do we listen for it?

14.  Love Hopes All Things

Do we hope for the best?  Even when we have experienced relationships where we have been taught not to hope?  Pure love hopes all things, even when experiences of the past dictate our thoughts to not trust and to not hope for something good to happen.

When true love is present, one knows that he can hope for all things.  One knows that hope will bring added happiness and joy and love.  The Savior has given us the ultimate reason to hope.  Without His atonement or sacrifice for us, there would be no reason to hope.  There would be nothing to hope for.  It is because of the atonement, and repentance and conversion that we can hope for a brighter tomorrow and that  we can hope to one day make it home to our Heavenly Father’s embrace.

15.  Love Endures All Things

Just because one strives to attain pure love, does not mean one or a relationship will not go through trials or hard times.  This characteristic of true love shows that those with true love do not give up.  They continue forward with faith and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Truly, the Savior endured all things for us because of His perfect love.  How much are we willing to endure for those we love?  Is there a limit to how much we can take and still love?  What helps you to expand that limit?

What helps me is relying on the Savior.  He truly helps me to be more than I am.

16.  Love Never Fails

Pure love never fails.  Yes, relationships may fail, and people may break up or get divorces, but if those people have true love, they still appreciate the other person and see the other person as a loving and precious son or daughter of God.  Perfect love never fails because it casts out fear as is stated in the New Testament in 1 John 4:18:

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:  because fear hath torment.  He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

I like the rest of that chapter in 1 John as well:

“We love Him, because He first loved us.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar:  for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.”

The Lord’s love is perfect.  Let us share His love and know that His love, perfect love, never fails.

I was once asked to do this love challenge.  The challenge was to each week take one of the sixteen characteristics of perfect love and work on it that week.  I know that as we do that and diligently strive to incorporate characteristics of the Savior into our lives, we will become more Christlike.  We will begin to see others as He sees them.  We will begin to learn and know of our divine worth.  We will become a happier, more purpose-filled people.

Even greater blessings..

How quickly do you satisfy your hunger?

Saving

When I was little, I remember saving whatever change I could find so that I could buy something special.  I remember that sometimes it would take a long time before I had enough to buy a new toy.  I also remember putting my change in a piggy bank for when we went on vacation.

One year we actually had a large jar that we used for our vacation fund as a family.  We had to put aside immediate wants for this greater desire or want to go on a vacation to see a different part of the United States.

Many times what we may want or think we need in the present is something far less than what we may need or want in the future.  We have to be willing to wait and move onward without satisfying present appetites.

Enduring

During this period of saving, we may not have as many things immediately as we would like to have.  We in essence live below a comfort level at times.  Some, in different circumstances, may look at this period of saving as a hard trial in their life that does not seem to go away.

In my life now, I have daily had to be patient with myself in my limited capabilities.  I recognize the things that I have to not rush into all of the time in order to stay mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy.

What helps us to endure through this period is keeping our focus on what we ultimately want.  It may be extremely hard at times to not give in to carnal appetites and satisfy our wants.  As we remember our purpose and ask for help when help is needed, we can make it to our desired goal.

While we endure, we are not just sitting.  We are moving forward towards our goal, by not giving in to appetites and by making steps forward towards our goal as we put money into our savings, or as we gain new skills or new qualities.

The Ultimate Blessing

The greatest blessing that we can each receive is to be able to live with Heavenly Father again.  We are able to do this as we obey His commandments and endure to the end.  As we follow the example of Christ, we become more fit for the kingdom of God.

This principle of waiting patiently and enduring is evident in many aspects of our lives, but the overarching reason for this is so that we can return to our home in heaven again.

What helps you to not lose your eternal perspective?  What helps you to remember to be diligent in enduring to the end?  Are you just sitting and waiting for something to happen?  Are you just not satisfying carnal desires?  Or are you saving and denying yourself of immediate gratifications?  Is what you are doing working?  How can you make it more effective?

I know that Heavenly Father helps us to achieve our righteous desires.  He helps us to realize that patience is indeed a virtue.  We are blessed so much greater when we are patient and endure well.  I have seen this in my life as I was able to live through depression with the help of many others.  Now, I can say that my joy is much deeper.  I appreciate life so much more.  By living with the contrast and exact opposite of that, I have been able to be filled with greater joy and happiness in my life.  My life is a gift from my Heavenly Father.

He waits to bless me and you with the ultimate blessing of eternal life.  Let us live worthy of receiving this great gift.