Faith and the “Reality Distortion Field”

Something pretty for this post...Even though it really has nothing to do with it at all. :)
Something pretty for this post…Even though it really has nothing to do with it at all.

In the most recent General Conference, President Monson stated the following:

“May we choose to build up within ourselves a great and powerful faith which will be our most effective defense against the designs of the adversary – a real faith, the kind of faith which will sustain us and will bolster our desire to choose the right. Without such faith, we go nowhere. With it, we can accomplish our goals.”

As you probably know (if you read this blog often), I could write an essay of at least 3,000 words on this subject. But I’m striving for brevity. So, here are a few thoughts on the faith we need to help inform our choices and empower us to accomplish our goals.

In our society, it may be tempting to think of faith as some kind of quaint virtue, or perhaps something even worse.

Faith is the first principle of the gospel. It is a subject we hear about time and time again.

Faith is a virtue, but it isn’t relegated to moral interests. Faith is real power. (By the way, virtue is power – not just something for boring, prudish people! You can read more about virtue here.)

Without faith that a seed will sprout, we won’t keep watering it, fertilizing it, and nourishing it. Therefore, without the vision, or faith, of what a seed will be, though that vision is so different than the seed itself, the seed will never become a plant.

Because faith is a true principle and power, we see can faith at work – not only in a religious sense, but in any case.

Let’s take Steve Jobs, for example. It was often said that he had a “reality distortion field.” The “reality distortion field” or “RDF” is described as follows:

“RDF was said to distort an audience’s sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task at hand was possible. (Reality Distortion Field, Wikipedia)

There is plenty of criticism regarding Jobs’ “reality distortion field,” but the fact also remains: he believed a personal computer could be created. And it was created. He believed that they could figure out a way to put all of your songs in your pocket, and with the iPod, they did.

Later, now that we have been able to enjoy the success of Jobs’ ability to “distort” reality, we celebrate him as a visionary. We say this as if Jobs possessed some kind of magical ability. I don’t think that gives him enough credit. It really isn’t easy to “distort reality.”

I believe that this “reality distortion field” could be renamed to faith. Faith seems to “distort” our present knowledge and lead us to believe that with God, anything is possible.

Of course, faith is not a distortion. Alma teaches,

“And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” – Alma 32:21, emphasis added

Notice the last phrase – which are true. We learn more about truth in Doctrine and Covenants:

“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;” – Doctrine and Covenants 93:24

Though faith doesn’t often seem to coincide with our current notion of reality, faith is a belief in that which is true – past, present, or future. And the truth is, we don’t know everything right now. There is so much we can’t see, so much we can’t sense. Relying only on what we currently know and experience is an actual and incredibly detrimental distortion of reality. A distortion of true reality – past, present, or future – will result in our impotence.

So, how do we develop the faith that empowers? How do we choose to distort what we think we know now and believe in something that is yet to happen?

We can simply put our faith in God. He is our Father. He knows all. He created all. He does have all of the information. He will enable us to sense and see what we need to know in our lives – even if what He reveals to us isn’t aligned with our current sense of “reality.”

When we exercise our faith, we may be misunderstood. Some may say that our “reality” seems “distorted,” but with faith in God, reality is never distorted. God isn’t bound by time – past, present, or future. He sees and knows all now. Through the Holy Ghost, and according to His will, our Heavenly Father can impart with us the knowledge we must know in order to achieve our goals. In other words, with faith, we can also become “visionaries.”

I don’t know…when I think about faith this way, it just seems so powerful. Why wouldn’t we want to develop it?!?!


Come Listen to the Prophet’s Voice

I love general conference!
I love general conference!

It seems like every six months, I get to a point where I feel spiritually parched, hungry, needy. I can’t really put my finger on it. My spirit needs refreshment and renewal. I can’t seem to get it from normal church meetings, scripture study or prayer. Going to the temple helps, but it still can’t quite satisfy what I feel like I want.

I need to hear the words of the living prophets. I love their advice, love, warnings, and messages. I love to hear the tabernacle choir sing. I love to hear humble prayers uttered. I love to be able to raise my hand to the square and sustain the servants of God.

Today, as I listened to President Monson speak, I was filled with the confirming knowledge that President Monson is a living prophet. I felt love wash over me as he began to spoke—the blessing of a living prophet tells me that Heavenly Father loves me. It is truly miraculous that the Lord can bless so many millions of people with the words of a single prophet.

Listen to the word of the living prophet and apostles here.

Joy and Thanksgiving – Gratitude: Words from a Living Prophet

So, today, we are reading the talk by President Monson: The Divine Gift of Gratitude. It is so good!

I love what we learn about gratitude from this talk. It is the perfect thing to read at Thanksgiving – or any time of year.

This last two weeks, we’ve been studying Joy and Thanksgiving. As I put this study series together, I kind of separated the two concepts, but I knew that they weren’t separate. I love this talk because it clearly teaches how the two principles are related.

President Monson teaches:

“Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.”

This is the secret – the link between gratitude and happiness. When we are grateful, we “unlock the doors of heaven.” We “feel God’s love.” We have established that God’s love is the fruit of the tree of life – that it is happiness; it is joy.

Heavenly Father loves us – whether or not we recognize and accept His love. However, when we are grateful, we can feel more of our Father’s love and joy in our lives. A grateful heart becomes a happy heart.

Now, President Monson doesn’t give this talk with the expectation that we’ll be blissfully ignorant of the problems around us. We just ned to recognize the good – amongst the troubling. We need to choose to see the beautiful rose among the thorns. He states,

“This is a wonderful time to be on earth. While there is much that is wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good. There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us, teachers who teach. Our lives are blessed in countless ways.

We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that ‘gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.’”

It is so easy to focus on what is negative in the world around us, and all of this negativity can drown out the positive. It can wear on our souls.

I know that when I pay too much attention to “the news” I begin to feel depressed – as if there is no solution to the ailments of society. I forget the blessings we have – that I have. I forget that temples dot the earth; that there are amazing people working hard and serving others. I forget that I have been blessed abundantly.

I think that gratitude is being aware – of the difficulties we have while celebrating the blessings that God has give us to face them. Gratitude is acceptance of God’s will – no matter what that is for us. Gratitude is not a state of blind faith or pretended happiness. A grateful heart is a broken one. And when our hearts are broken, they can then be filled with God’s love..

There are times when I am not great at being grateful – or showing my appreciation to others. This last year, both my piano teacher and my brother have passed away. There are times when I have wished I could have done more to show each of them that I appreciate them. I feel especially haunted by the idea that I never was open with my brother. President Monson speaks on this, saying:

“”The loss of loved ones almost inevitably brings some regrets to our hearts. Let’s minimize such feelings as much as humanly possible by frequently expressing our love and gratitude to them. We never know how soon it will be too late.”

President Monson gave this talk in October 2010. A few weeks before my brother’s 18th birthday; eight months before his passing. And the prophet’s words ring true to me – especially now. The loss of Sean has brought regret to my heart. And I know that I could have minimized these feelings by being more open with my love and gratitude for all of my siblings and family members.

I know this, yet, it is hard to change. I get stuck in the little doldrums of life, forgetting the divine miracles I witness all the time. I get annoyed by little habits and foibles of others, forgetting that this is a temporary life, and I will miss them – foibles and all.

Gratitude – it is the key to joy; and the key to minimized regret.

Finally, President Monson teaches us how to obtain a grateful heart.

“A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort—at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude. Often we feel grateful and intend to express our thanks but forget to do so or just don’t get around to it. Someone has said that “feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.’”

So – here’s the remedy…we get a grateful heart through expressing gratitude – to our Heavenly Father and to those around us. I’m actually grateful to know that such a heart requires a conscious effort.

I feel like I’m a somewhat grateful person. I mean, I say my prayers. I know that my life is really great. I have been very richly blessed. But I don’t know that am as grateful as I ought to be. I don’t know if my siblings know how grateful I am for them. I don’t know if my parents know how much I love them and thank them for their examples, sacrifices, and raising me. I don’t know if my husband knows that I’m thankful that he works tirelessly at a job that he’s not thrilled about – so I can be at home to raise my kids.

Sometimes, I selfishly look inward. I only think of the fights I’ve had with my brothers and sisters. I think of the mistakes my parents made, and how those mistakes have effected me for years. I selfishly think that my husband doesn’t understand the sacrifice I make – while he’s out with other people, improving his own life, and contributing to our family in an obvious and important way. These thoughts! ACK! I don’t even like typing them. They are so depressing. It is amazing – how gratitude changes it all…

So, I’m going to make a goal – to be more grateful. And this is a conscious effort. I’ve heard of gratitude journals. Maybe that’s the way to go. What do you do to be grateful?

For tomorrow’s Joy and Thanksgiving assignment, click here.

Keep our Light Bright

Lighthouse Image by Simon Howden…Modifications by moi.

I’ve been thinking about my example a lot lately. I am a mother. I’m a friend, neighbor, young woman’s leader. I’m a daughter, sister, and wife. There are a lot of people I come in contact with, and I wonder, what kind of impression am I leaving them with.

I don’t always know what kind of example I am, but I know what I want to be. I want to be uplifting and enlightening. I’ve known a few people whose love and joy seemed to spread to everyone they came in contact with. I want to be like that!

I love this message from President Monson. To be a light we must

  • Gain a personal testimony – Pretty obvious.
  • Become a Beacon of Righteousness – through obedience
  • Remember who you are – I am a child of God!
  • Seek God’s Assistance – I think that Heavenly Father wants me to be the type of person that is joyful and uplifting. He will help me to pursue this desire and ability.

You can find more of what the Prophets and Apostles teach today here. Not sure about prophets and apostles? Find out more about our living Prophet Thomas S. Monson and the twelve apostles here.

I love the inspiration and words of the prophets. They always help me at just the right moment in just the right way. What are some things that the prophets or apostles have taught recently that inspire you?