A Really Nice and Not Off-putting Topic (Pride!)

I figured that I shouldn’t name the title of this blog post “pride,” because that tends to put people off. But…that’s what this blog post is all about for today. It’s been on my mind a lot. The Lord has been teaching me a lot about my pride, and I’ve come to the conclusion that nearly every problem I have – my weaknesses, my fears, my irritations, etc. – all start with a seed of pride. And if I can root out that pride, then I can get closer to my Heavenly Father.

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This has nothing to do with anything. Just pretty.

What is Pride?

President Uchtdorf explained:

“In the scriptures we find plenty of examples of good and righteous people who rejoice in righteousness and at the same time glory in the goodness of God. Our Heavenly Father Himself introduced his Beloved Son with the words ‘in whom I am well pleased.’ … I believe there is a difference between being proud of certain things and being prideful.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I echo President Uchtdorf’s belief. I will be concentrating on the sin of pridefulness – not the idea that you are “proud” of your children when they have done something good. or the like.

So – again – what is pride?

Imagine for a moment that you are a parent of young children. You are reading the Book of Mormon together, and on this particular day, you are reading the Book of Fourth Nephi. The people had been righteous and happy, and then something begins to disturb their happiness. You read the following with your family:

“And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.” – 4 Nephi 1:24

Your children, who are – let’s imagine – 5, 7, and 9, then ask, What is pride?

What do you think your answer might be? Perhaps it would sound like this: Pride is when you think you are better than someone else. You might brag. You might try to show that you think that you are better than other people by getting things like nice clothes, toys are cars. And then you might make fun of the people who don’t have those things.”

This is an adequate and true description of pride, but it is only a part of it.

In 1989, the prophet at that time – President Ezra Taft Benson – gave a general conference talk titled Beware of Pride. About Pride he stated:

“Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.” – President Ezra Taft Benson

Now this is interesting! Pride is enmity towards god. And I’m grateful that President Benson went on to explain enmity because, without his definition, it would still be difficult to put our finger on the core of pride. So – pride, then is – hatred to God, hostility to God, or a state of opposition against God.

I will confess that it has taken me quite a while to understand this definition of pride, and why President Benson would describe pride as the universal sin: the great vice.

***

I was about 11 years old when President Benson gave this talk on pride. I have read it once or twice in my life, but I never really applied the entire definition of enmity. It puzzled me sometimes – to hear so much about pride. I mean, I go to church. I love God. And all these people around me do, too. Do I have a problem with pride? Do I have enmity toward God? Or is this some problem that “the world” has?

I mean – I pray to Him! I love Him!

But take a closer look at that last phrase in President Benson’s description of enmity…that in being in a “state of opposition against God.” I would guess that this part of the definition is the part that is most applicable to those of us who have covenanted with God and who are striving to keep our covenants with Him because we love Him.

I will share two personal experiences that illustrate this kind of pride.

One

Years ago, I was a newly called second counselor in the Young Women’s presidency in my ward. The woman who was the prior second counselor was still serving in the Young Women’s organization, but in a different capacity. As we were transitioning, she was very helpful…maybe a little too helpful.

I’ll be honest. I felt like she was stepping on my toes. I was even getting a bit annoyed at times. Irritated. Every meeting I went to, every activity with the young women, every time I opened my mouth to speak, it seemed as if her voice would pipe up before I could get my words out. I felt purposeless, undermined, and a little confused. Why would I be called to serve if someone else was just going to do my job?

Now, I do love God. And I knew that this kind of irritation wasn’t Christlike, nor was it helpful – for anyone. I knew that it wouldn’t serve me, my young women, or this woman – who was actually my friend! I didn’t want to be annoyed. So, I prayed about it.

As I prayed, I felt prompted to pray for her – to be grateful for her service and for her love of the youth.

This began to soften my heart, but I was still frustrated with myself. Why would I let this situation annoy me so much? Not only that – she was one of my friends, and now she was driving me crazy! I didn’t want to feel this way!

After bring grateful, the spirit continued to prompt my prayer. As I searched in my heart, I felt the spirit whisper to my soul: Why does situation this bother you so much?

I tried to answer honestly. Well, it’s a problem. There are too many voices in charge, and the young women don’t know who to look to.

Then I felt an answer to this concern: Yes. It’s a problem. God’s is a house of order. And there is a simple solution. But it still doesn’t answer the question of why you are bothered and annoyed. You don’t need to have a spirit of contention or anger.

As I searched in my heart, I realized: The reason why this bothers me so much is because I feel stupid. I don’t like being told what to do. And corrected all the time. I’m not an idiot.

As I voiced this in my prayer, I realized, And my annoyance turns into a temptation to prove to her that I’m NOT stupid! That I’m the one who’s in charge!”

Pride.

The Spirit whispered to me, You know you’re not stupid. You know that I know that you’re not stupid. What does it matter what anyone else thinks?

I started to understand what the Lord was trying to teach me. I was worried – not so much about the organization of God’s house; not so much about His young women. I was worried about what my friend thought about me, and what the young women thought about me, and what that ultimately meant about me. In other words, I was more concerned with their opinions than with the truth – what God’s opinion about me was, and what my responsibilities to Him and the Youth were.

Because of my prideful worries, my heart was beginning to turn in opposition against Him, and I was allowing space in my heart for anger and frustration.

Thankfully, the Lord corrected me. I was able to see clearly. A good, positive solution for the legitimate problem was found, and our friendship remained intact. In fact, she never knew about the feelings I was having!

If the Lord hadn’t helped me to discover that pride was at the root of my anger, then the outcome would have ben drastically different, probably petty, and damaging for all involved.

Two – More of my pride

I had just moved to a new ward, and I was getting acclimated to the people and place. I received a text from the missionaries asking me if my daughters could help a sister in our relief society.

(We homeschool, so this seemed to be an option). Before putting much thought into it, I responded “Of course!” and after I sent the text, I felt a prompting: You’re daughters can’t help her today. Just because they are homeschooling doesn’t mean that ‘nothing’ is happening. They can’t help – they have schoolwork to do!

I didn’t want to let the missionaries down, so I texted them to say that actually, the girls couldn’t help, but I could. They responded, “Thank you Sister Choco! You are a SAINT!” uh … oh… After receiving that message, I felt another prompting, You can’t help her at that time! You have an appointment with your scriptures and prayers. If you put it off now you will have trouble doing it in the future. This is sacred time. You can’t help her today.

It was really hard, but I knew I had been prompted by the Spirit, so even though the missionaries had just called me a “SAINT!” I immediately texted them again, and backed out of serving a sister – in need. I felt stupid about it. And conflicted.

I felt pulled in two directions – one because I knew that it was the Spirit that prompted me to say no. But also because serving is a good thing to do! And I wanted to serve and help. Not to mention that I felt horrible for flaking out on the missionaries and this woman!

Later on in the day, I kept my appointment with prayer and scripture study, and I pondered the troubled feeling I was experiencing.

I expressed sorrow that I wasn’t serving this woman in my prayer. But then I felt a prompting from the Spirit: Why are you troubled about this? It was a spiritual prompting.

Why was I troubled? I realized Well, I want the missionaries and the people here in this ward to know that I am willing to serve.

The answer: What does it matter what they think? I know that you’re willing to serve.

Pride.

Ah ha! My willingness to sere is good! Yes! But my concern about others knowing it – is pride! Sneaky little thing. And that concern was setting me in a state of opposition against God – which is ENMITY!

I’m sure many of you can relate to me here. There is no open hostility or hatred that I feel towards Heavenly Father. But there are so many times that my state is in opposition against Him. This is why President Benson stated:

“Pride is the universal sin, the great vice. Yes, pride is the universal sin, the great vice.” – Ezra Taft Benson

and:

“Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion. I repeat: Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion.” – Ezra Taft Benson

A Solution

Before this sounds too dreadful, I want to mention that in each example I gave earlier, as soon as I recognized that my real problem was pride (rather than the perceived problems – an overstepping helper and a reputation) – as soon as I realized my real problem, a feeling of hope came over me.

This is because pride is a relatively simple sin with a very simple fix. (key word: SIMPLE!)

We can’t change our pasts. We can’t change the things that have happened to us that might give us sensitivities or fears. We can’t change the experiences that shaped the core of our personalities. We can’t control what people think about us. We can’t change any of the problems that are beyond our control. But we do have control of our pride. We have the choice to repent and set ourselves in alignment with God instead of being in opposition against Him.

And we can feel the blessings and joy that flow from this decision.

***

How do we detect and then overcome pride? The short answer: Humility.

I think that the most effective way to do this is through earnest prayer.

I know that if we will go to the Lord and keep asking questions until we get to the root of the problems we are facing, then He will help us to find the possible undercurrent of pride that might be creating drag in our lives. …

Ask, ask, ask…it might go like this:

Why?**Why am I frustrated? Because she is stepping on my toes.** Why does that make you mad? Because I don’t like it.** Why don’t you like it? It makes me feel stupid.** Who cares if you feel stupid? Maybe people around me will think I’m stupid. ** Why does it matter if they think you are stupid? If they think I’m stupid, maybe they won’t walk to talk to me. Maybe they’ll reject me. ** Why does it matter if they reject you? I know you’re not stupid Choco. I will never reject you.

Keep asking questions until you get to the bottom of your problem, and I guarantee that this will also be accompanied with a feeling of patient love that only a living and loving Father in Heaven can give.

***

This post is getting long, so I’ll wrap it up. Remember that nature abhors a vacuum. When you start to recognize the pride that may be lurking deep in your heart, fill it with something good! Pride is always trying to creep right back in.

I have found that one of the most effective things to fill our hearts with is gratitude. It is probably the simplest and most effective way to get out of a state of opposition against God and on board with Him instead. I read a great quote:

“To be grateful is to pause, think and ponder on the goodness of our existence. For people of faith, stopping our busy-ness to consider our blessings (no matter how small) is more than a nice idea–it is a transformative process in which our souls are drawn upward in love to God, who then points us outward to lift others.” (From Mormon Newsroom – The Global Gift of Gratitude)

Okay…so really, this is the end. We lave a living and loving Heavenly Father. I have experienced His loving tutelage and miracles in my life. I also know that pride is a real problem – THE ESSENTIAL PROBLEM for the natural man and woman. Despite this immaturity and pride, our Heavenly Father still loves us and He is patient with us as we stumble through our existence on this earth.

If we will seek, He will help us find the ways that we need to correct ourselves to be sure that we are aligned with Him. He has provided us with a Savior, who has atoned for our sins – so we can be realigned and made at one with God. Such alignment with a loving God will bring us sublime happiness and joy – because His state is a state of happiness and joy.

***

Thanks for making it this far. What do you do to strip pride from your heart, so that you can feel peace and joy in this life?

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The Difficult Path vs. Fiery Darts

Recently, while watching the address from our new prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, I jotted down the following thought:

Don’t confuse the difficulty of the path with the fiery darts of the adversary.

I’m not exactly sure what about that presentation brought on this thought. But I know exactly why I thought about it – in the context of my life.

Recently, our family lived in Midway, Utah. If you aren’t familiar with it, Midway is in the Heber Valley – east of Salt Lake City, on the other side of the Wasatch Mountain Range. Midway is about 20 minutes south of Park City. It’s just a beautiful place.

We moved to Midway in late fall, and there was a road that always intrigued me – Pine Canyon Road. It was closed during the winter and wouldn’t be open until at least May – when the snow melted and made the road passable.

I would often take walks through Midway and see this closed road, curious about where it led.

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The view of the mountains from Wasatch Mountain State Park in Midway, Utah.

It was late May (around the 27th or 28th that year), when the road was open! I knew, thanks to google maps, that this road would lead me to the tops of the mountains where I could then go on to either Guardsman Pass and Salt Lake County/Sandy or I could go on to Empire Pass and Deer Valley/Park City.

The walk to Park City from my house would be about 14 miles – with an elevation climb of about 4,000 feet. On a Saturday morning in May, I decided I would take a long walk.

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The view of the Heber Valley and Deer Creek Reservoir from a random spot on Pine Canyon Road

It was a hard walk. Now, it wasn’t a hike, so I had the advantage of having a path laid out before me. But it was hard. It was all uphill for hours and hours. I had a pack with water. I took plenty of breaks – to catch my breath while admiring the views, the flowers, and the cool air.

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Columbine growing on the side of the road
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Wasatch Beardtongue
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Utah Sweet Vetch
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A cabin in an Aspen forest.

I walked, up a mountain, for a few hours when I finally reached a “checkpoint” of sorts. The end of Pine Canyon Road, and a choice to go to either Brighton or Park City. It took forever. I was getting so tired. I had been walking for about 4 hours.

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This intersection brought me sweet relief! Only a little way left!!!

At this point in my walk, I still had about 1 mile or so until I got to Empire pass. Then I had a few more hours until I made it to Main Street Park City. Though I was relieved to turn this corner, there was more walking to do. A little over 2 hours of more walking, in fact.

But I took a drink of my water, and I kept on going. I would take a longer break at Empire Pass…

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The view from Empire Pass.

And I made it.

Though I would still have to keep walking to get to Park City – Main Street, Empire Pass was the summit of my walk. Empire Pass was the real point of the walk. I wanted to get into the mountains.

After hours of walking, I made it to Empire Pass. I sat down on a bench and looked over to Bonanza Flats. I saw snow-capped mountain peaks and smiled. I could look in another direction and see the Heber Valley. I could look in yet another direction and see all of Park City. I was on top of the world. This little walk, though time consuming, was immensely rewarding.

The mountains are a special, peaceful place. Going up to the mountains kind of felt like going to church. It was renewing. It was quiet and contemplative. All of the effort to make it to the top of these mountains was nothing in comparison to the reward of sitting on a bench and looking out to the mountains.

I sat on a bench for about half an hour then made my way down through Deer Valley and on to Park City where I would have Homey pick me up and I would get a ride back home.

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Deer Valley

***

Sometimes I think that life is a lot like a walk up to a mountain pass.

One – It’s there…

Sounds kind of obvious. Yes – the mountain pass is there. And I think that it is there for us. Heavenly Father has created mountains for us to climb. Do we have to? No. But I believe He wants us to dream big. He wants us to see mountain vistas. He wants us to experience the peace of an Aspen forest in late spring, the blue skies that rival the blue wings of birds that flit through the forest. He wants us to admire wildflowers that pop up along roadsides. He wants us to see moose tracks and a line of trees that have been carefully chopped down by a beaver.

The mountains are there. But we have to make the choice to walk up it. He won’t make us. We don’t have to go. In fact, we can choose never to climb a mountain and have a great life.

But some people see the mountains and feel drawn to them. And they’re there. So, it’s good for us to go.

Two – The only views and experiences of the mountains are in the mountains

The thing with mountain top views is that they are in mountain tops. There is no easy way to get there. You have to go up. If the mountain view was in the valley, then it wouldn’t be a mountain top.

It’s important, I think, to make this discernment.

Sometimes, I think that we tend to say that God is testing us – as if He is the jealous God that we have imagined based on our interpretations of the Old Testament. As if he is Lucy, from Charlie Brown.

But I don’t think that’s the way it is. The climb up a mountain – yes it’s a test of our will and strength. But that’s not because God set out to make it hard. It’s because mountain tops are where the views are, and you can’t get around that! If you want to see the view from the top of the mountain, then you just have to climb.

And this is where the point that I mentioned at the beginning of this post comes in.

Don’t confuse the difficulty of the path with the fiery darts of the devil

As I mentioned in the point before, the mountain is there. And the views are there. And I think that Heavenly Father wants us to experience these things that will bring us joy.

So – is the road we must travel up a challenge? Yes! But we shouldn’t confuse ourselves. The upward climb isn’t a fiery dart of the devil. It isn’t a “test” from a jealous God. It is simply the path.

Three – All of that being said, the path is a test, and there ARE fiery darts

It is important to make the distinction between the path and the influences of both the Lord and the adversary. By learning to make this distinction we will be able to stay optimistic and we will have the strength to fight off the fiery darts of the adversary that will try to thwart us from our reward.

Think about Lehi’s dream in 1 Nephi 8. People are walking along a path that will lead to the tree of life.

The path itself is completely inanimate. It is simply the way to our goal.

On the path is the iron rod. It follows the path and provides something that we can hold onto – so that we make it safely to the tree of life – our goal.

This path – it is like the road up the mountain. It goes up and down, around corners. In Lehi’s dream, there are portions of the path that even go through “mists of darkness.” Those mists of darkness are the fiery darts of the adversary. They aren’t the path. These fiery darts are meant to force us into letting go of the iron rod and straying from the path that will lead to the tree of life.

***
Sometimes, we can be tempted to lose focus. We forget what purpose the path serves. We forget that it is a gift given to us by God to help us get where we want to go. We can be frustrated and wonder why our Heavenly Father is testing us. We might even confuse the path – this wonderful path that leads us to joy and accomplishment – with the fiery darts that are trying to sway us from the path.

When we understand that the road to the mountain pass is the road that the Lord prepared for us to enable our achievement of dreams and joys then we will more readily accept the trials and afflictions that we face – recognizing that they strengthen us and help us to get where the views are worth hundreds and thousands of words – where the air is clean – where we are filled with joy and confidence.

Hope for the Best and Expect the Worst…

I’ve heard it said over and over again, “Hope for the best and expect the worst.” I understand the concept behind the adage. But I think that I’m less and less of a believer of it.

Today, in sacrament meeting, we sang the following:

“When dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us
And threaten our peace to destroy,
There is hope smiling brightly before us,
And we know that deliverance is nigh.
We doubt not the Lord nor his goodness,
We’ve proved Him in days that are past.” – We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

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There is hope smiling brightly before us.

***

About four years ago, Homey and I started our own business. Starting your own business is not for the faint of heart. Both Homey and I, when we started it, knew that it would push us right to the very edge – past anything we have ever experienced. Simultaneously, we knew that we could trust God, and that we would be fine. There would definitely be times when things didn’t feel fine, but we could trust that we were okay.

This thought came the exact instant I told Homey, “it’s time to quit your job and be serious about the business.” Both my own spirit and the Comforter were aligned on this – I knew this instinctually, in my gut, in my Spirit and because of the Spirit – we needed to devote more time to the business. I knew that we needed to take the risk, have Homey quit his job, and focus our efforts 100% on the business. I knew, the Spirit gave me a deep impression that now was our chance – and that if we didn’t take it, there might not be another “right time for it.”

We went to the temple, we referred to our patriarchal blessings. And we knew that this was not only something we wanted to do, but perhaps a part of the work we should perform in this life. It would enable us to be the kind of people God sees in us, and it would enable us to do the work that He would expect of us.

And, thank goodness for the Comforter – even while Homey was still employed with a very secure job that gave us a very secure lifestyle – I knew that we would be pushed right to our limit. And I also felt overwhelming comfort, “You’ll be pushed to your limit, but you will be delivered. You know the pattern – the Lord delivers when your back is at the wall.”

(But He doesn’t deliver us before our backs are to the wall).

***

That was four years ago. Since then, Homey and I have been working, working, working. We have lived off of savings. We have sold our house. We have moved to Hawai’i, to the mainland – the intermountain west, and then to the East Coast. We have sold nearly all of our belongings (everything we own fits in a small portion of my in-law’s basement – for a family of six!). We own no couches, bookshelves, or dishes. We have had an amazing ride. We have been blessed by the Lord.

And we have been stretched.

At one point along the ride, a well-meaning individual said, “Well, you know – you have to hope for the best, but expect the worst.”

I smiled, and was grateful for the concern. I nodded my head, but I didn’t agree. And the idea has been ruminating in the back of my head for months.

***

In First Nephi, within the first chapters of the Book of Mormon, we read Nephi’s courageous declaration:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” – 1 Nephi 3:7

Hope for the best, and expect the worst? Not really. Nephi didn’t “hope” that he would obtain the plates. No, he was committed to obtaining the plates. He tried once and twice – lost his entire family’s inheritance, and nearly lost his life. Then he finally entered into the gates of Jerusalem – armed only with the Spirit and with no plan at all. Perhaps the chain of events didn’t happen as he had expected, but his primary expectation and his hope were aligned – He would obtain the plates. No plan B. No other option. That was that. He would obtain the plates or die trying.

Now, maybe you’re wondering, “Well, Nephi was commanded.” Let’s look at another example.

***

We have a record – in the Book of Ether – of a group of people that originated from Babel, during the time that the Lord confused their languages. One family – Jared’s family and his brothers – prayed to the Lord that they would be able to communicate with each other. So, Jared had his brother – who was highly favored of the Lord – pray to spare their family.

And the Lord did.

Then, Jared asked his brother the following:

“And it came to pass that Jared spake again unto his brother, saying: Go and inquire of the Lord whether he will drive us out of the land, and if he will drive us out of the land, cry unto him whither we shall go. And who knoweth but the Lord will carry us forth into a land which is choice above all the earth? And if it so be, let us be faithful unto the Lord, that we may receive it for our inheritance.”  – Ether 1:38.

So – Jared’s brother decides to ask God to drive them out of the land – and perhaps to a promised land. The Lord has compassion. He gives Jared’s brother some instructions, then makes the following promise:

“…And there will I meet thee, and I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth.

And there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed, and of the seed of thy brother, and they who shall go with thee, a great nation. And thereshall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth. And thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me.” – Ether 1:42-43

Unlike Nephi and his family, Jared and his brethren were not commanded to flee Babel. They had a righteous desire, they asked the Lord, and the Lord granted accordingly (Ask and ye shall receive…). They would have to do a lot of work, they would travel across the entire world – from Babel to the Americas. But the Lord would grant them according to their prayers.

It would push them right to their limits, but they didn’t have to worry because it would work.

Hope for the best and expect the worst??? NO! Plan B? Plan C? NOOOO! There is one plan! It is to do what God will have us do! There is one expectation – that the Lord’s will will come to pass, and that his promises are sure, that hope isn’t some silly thing that kids do, but that it will anchor our faith by giving us vision.

***

Imagine that you are walking along the iron rod, toward the tree of life. Do you say, “Well, I’m hoping that I will make it to the tree of life, but I don’t expect it. In fact, I expect that I will wander off on a strange road and get lost – the worst possible outcome.” Do you say, “I’ll hope for the best, but expect the worst,” as if you are an agent to be acted upon, rather than an agent to act – empowered by the infinite grace of God???

***

I will admit that many, many times in my life I have said, “I won’t get my hopes up.” There is a glimmer of an opportunity, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. I don’t want to be disappointed, so I kind of ignore them. Of course, I’m sure you can guess because I expected the worst, I received the worst.

And I’m learning that hope – it isn’t some kind of silly thing. True hope is a facet of faith. It will make an anchor for us so that we succeed. Hope will help us put one foot in front of the other. Hope will give us the vision to find opportunities when our backs are against the wall and every resource appears to be exhausted. Hope gives us the courage to walk into a dark city at night, on an errand from the Lord, with nothing but the Spirit to guide and protect us. Hope gives us the audacity to go to the Lord and ask him for the blessings that He is willing to grant us but can’t until we ask for them.

Hope is how we cheerfully submit to all of the will of God – enduring anything that is thrown before us, knowing that our expectations – deliverance and success – are sure because He Is Sure.

 

Light the World Day Three

I know – I haven’t written for Days One or Two of Light the World…but better late than never, right?

Light the World is a fun Advent Calendar with scriptures and ideas that promote service during this time of year when we think of the Savior’s birth.

Today’s prompt:

“Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath Day,” (Matthew 12:12

God designed the Sabbath Day as a day of rest, but that doesn’t mean that we should be idle on this day. Instead, we should use our time and talents to bless others.”

***

I have been in a little bit of a rut with my scripture study for the past few weeks, so this morning I decided that it would be good for me to study the scriptures used for the #lighttheworld campaign. The scripture listed for today was only a part of the verse. The entire verse of Matthew 12:12 reads:

“How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.” – Matthew 12:12

So the context of this scripture is that the Pharisees ask the Savior if it is lawful for him to heal a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath.

Christ isn’t intimidated by the posturing of the Pharisees. We read what the Savior said next:

“And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.” – Matthew 12:11-13

So – I often think about the gospel in terms of those who don’t have any faith – and how they might perceive what the Savior teaches. And he asks the question, How much then is a man better than a sheep?

It’s an interesting question in a way. There are some people who might not think that people are any better than sheep – other than maybe we can reason and we are intellectual. Maybe some people would be offended that the Savior would imply that humans are better than sheep.

And, if we believed only in evolution, without any creator or God, then what is the answer to this question?  If we are trying to explain what the Savior is teaching to those who don’t have faith, what is it that we say?

Well…the Savior’s question is valid when we remember the truth of the matter. We can’t look only at evolution because there is more to the creation of this world that chance and evolution. There IS a Creator! This is crucial to remember, too.

We have a Creator, and He is our Father. The Savior, Himself, assisted in this creation. We are children of God. This is why humans – men and women – are important! This is why the Savior responds with his example of saving a sheep and then compares it with serving a person.

We are children of God!

What a thing to believe and know. Do we understand what this means? I am a child of God. You are a child of God. We are all brothers and sisters of a loving God. When we remember this fact, then we are more prone to act as the Savior did – reaching out to serve those who are in need.

***

By the way – the sheep in this story is pulled out of the pit. This isn’t an “either or” situation. On Sabbath days, sheep are pulled out of pits. On Sabbath Days, people are healed. The Sabbath is a day of rest from our labors – to give us the opportunity to commune with our God through worship, connect with others in our families and community, and to give Christlike service to others.

 

Life Lately

I haven’t been super consistent at posting lately. But I feel drawn to blogging again. I sat down to write today, wondering what should I write about? There are so many things to say. There are concerns I have. People are losing their faith in God and their love for one another. Our country is in turmoil.

In January, I decided to break away from Facebook. It started to take a bigger portion of my life than it should have. (read: I was addicted to it). I feel like after eliminating Facebook, I probably freed up about 60-90 minutes of my life!

I also have freed up feelings of anger, frustration, and general depression about this world around me. I turned off my phone, got up and started getting out more and tuning into my family more.

Here’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods…

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Oh Deer
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Quilty fun
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Tiger made a dress. And Sasquatch has glasses.
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T-Rex being a boy and finding things like dead snakes (and bringing them home!)
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There IS peace in this world. Just go outside. Look up.
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Handmade Pixie Shoes. (The show off the cutest little dirty toes).

I know that life isn’t perfect. And I don’t want to claim that mine is. Am I blessed? Yes! Absolutely!!! Despite my bounteous blessings, this is life, and I’m experiencing my share of trials. However, we can remember this:

“…thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” – 2 Nephi 2:2

Know the Greatness of God

I guess that this is what I mean by wake up, put down the phone, and get outside. I find that one of the quickest ways to feel God’s greatness is to go out for a walk.

Put down the phone, get off the internet (even before you finish reading this post!) and serve someone else. Into instant gratification? Get out and serve someone else. Nothing is more invigorating or electrifying as feeling the love that God has for all of us, and this comes to us as we serve each other.

And I know what you might be thinking! It’s easy for you to say, Choco, You aren’t dealing with _____[fill in the blank]_______ problems. However, I guarantee that anyone reading this can find someone who is happier than they are while having it worse than they do. When I’m feeling frustrated or down, and I don’t want to let God into my heart, I can’t help but remember Viktor Frankl. Who found purpose and stayed positive to his purpose WHILE IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP!

Know the greatness of God.

He Shall Consencrate Thine Afflictions for Thy Gain

As we come to know the greatness of God, trusting Him follows. We realize and remember that He isn’t just some arbitrary God up in heaven finding some kind of entertainment in our suffering.

He is our Father.

” Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” – Matthew 7:9-11

If you are a parent, then you should be better able to imagine our Heavenly Father – and why He allows us to endure adversity. No he doesn’t want to see us suffer, but He knows what we will see when we get to the other side of suffering.

Yes, there are horrible things happening in this world around us. But maybe there are some pretty great things, too. Maybe we can take a few minutes to know God, trust Him, and then count the ways that He is consecrating all that we are enduring for our gain.

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Creativity is pretty. And joyful.
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🙂
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Take a breath and look around!
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If you blink, you’ll miss it. 🙂

Always Remember Him

I haven’t written in a while, I’m not going to give some kind of recap of life or excuse. Let’s just continue on… 🙂

As I sat in church today, I kept thinking about the covenant we make each week in sacrament meeting: to always remember Him.

And I wondered why, why is it so important to always Remember the Savior?

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Getting outside helps me to remember Him

Now, this line of questioning is not out of doubt or disbelief. It is a way to seek more knowledge and understanding in my life. Why do we always remember Him?

One

We must always remember Christ because we have been commanded to.

Two

I happen to believe that God is not arbitrary and that each commandment serves some kind of real function.

As I pondered this thought – remember the Savior, I realized that we are commanded to always remember Him because it is the way. It is the secret to our success.

In 2 Nephi, we learn:

“And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” – 2 Nephi 31:20

After we first covenant with God in the waters of baptism, we aren’t done. We still have a life to live. We still must navigate the test of mortality.

Nephi tells us this. After baptism, all is not done. We must still rely on Christ’s ability to save us.

And we must do a few things: 1) Press forward with a steadfastness of Christ; 2) Have a perfect brightness of hope; 3) Have a love of God and of all men; 4) Press forward; 5) Feast on the words of Christ; 6) Endure to the end.

Then, we will have eternal life.

Now, think back on that promise made each week when partaking of the sacrament – to always remember Him.

In the covenant we make – to always remember God – we are given the help we need in order to do the 6 points needed in order to inherit life. Remembering Christ – ensures our steadfastness in Him; remembering Christ will help us to have a bright hope. Remembering Christ fills our hearts with love for Him and for others. Remembering Christ can help us to have the tenacity we need to push on and press forward in our lives. Remembering Christ will encourage us to feast on His words and stay close to Him. Remembering Christ helps us to endure to the end.

I love the elegance of God’s laws, commandments, and blessings. When we keep our covenants, we are empowered with exactly that which is needed for us to receive the gifts that God wants to give us.

What do you do to always remember Him?

Plutarch and Alma

I came across this quote recently, and I couldn’t help but think of Alma…

Plutarch Knowledge Quote

Before relating this to Alma, I want to just talk about the quote. Plutarch was smart enough to “get stuff.” I mean, a lot of us are that way, right? I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read about health and fitness. I logically “get” many of the concepts I’ve read about.

Yet – even though we “get something” and may even have knowledge, without application what do we really know?

Not only was Plutarch smart enough to “get something” from the words he read, he was smart enough to realize that the words and knowledge he gained was through experiences.

As for me – even though I had read a few books on the damage and problems that sugar causes the body, I never really got it until I had experimented for myself and saw how eating a diet without much sugar affected me. I really needed this experience in order to give meaning to the concepts that I had learned.

Alma the younger understood the power of experiential knowledge. In fact, he extended an invitation to the poor Zoramites that he taught:

“But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” – Alma 32:27

Alma taught the people the word of God. And he didn’t expect them to believe him just on face value – just because he said to believe. Instead, Alma asked them to experiment on his words. Alma wanted them to try it out for themselves. Alma invited them to have their own experiences so they could gain their own knowledge and faith.

It is interesting to me that we approach nearly every subject this way – except faith. Do we expect to learn a language just by reading about it? No, we go on a foreign exchange program, we take an immersion class, we go to that country, we start studying on a language learning website, we practice saying words in another language.

If we desire to learn Calculus, do we just buy a textbook and peruse it? Probably not. We go through the exercises. We get a calculator, paper, and pencil, and then try to solve the equations.

Yet, for some reason, so many people think that in order to obtain spiritual knowledge, they will sit in church one time and listen to a sermon and get it. Or maybe they think that in order to gain a testimony, they must read through the Bible once without meditating, pondering, and applying the words.

Then, because they haven’t put any thought or effort into their acquisition of spiritual knowledge, they don’t get any spiritual knowledge. Some may even proclaim faith, spirituality, or the scriptures as a fraud because of their own lack of experience.

I haven’t studied Calculus, but I’m not going to claim that Calculus is a farce.

Yes – going to church and studying the scriptures are important parts of obtaining spiritual knowledge, but the crucial key is to experiment and experience the gospel. Then those experiences will give you the knowledge of the word. They will make the scriptures and church even more meaningful.

How have you “experimented” on the word? How have your experiences helped to shape your testimony? If you haven’t experimented on the word of God, what is holding you back?