One of my favorite scriptures comes from the Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2: 24-25
24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. 25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
“Our mortal life…. was never meant to be easy or consistently pleasant. Our Heavenly Father … knows that we learn and grow and become refined through hard challenges, heartbreaking sorrows, and difficult choices. Each one of us experiences dark days when our loved ones pass away, painful times when our health is lost, feelings of being forsaken when those we love seem to have abandoned us. These and other trials present us with the real test of our ability to endure.”
When sore trials come upon us we are faced with all kinds of new and difficult choices. And many times these decisions and choices that we have to make seem impossible to end up with a happy result. However, the Lord wants us to have joy in this life. That is why we were sent here. The choice that Eve made when she chose to partake of the fruit, provided the opportunity for life to begin for us. In the midst of what Adam and Eve believed was a big failure, God turned into something beautiful and joyful.
Was that the end of their trials? Of course not, they had only just begun to learn the answers to the questions that they did not even know they had.
In order for us to progress and be able to make choices and have agency, opposition has an essential role. In 2 Nephi 2:11 We read: For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, …. righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one;
Elder Oakes continues: “From the beginning, agency and opposition were central to the Father’s plan and to Satan’s rebellion against it. As the Lord revealed to Moses, in the council of heaven Satan “sought to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3). That destruction was inherent in the terms of Satan’s offer. He came before the Father and said, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1).
And while that may have seemed like a great plan on the outside, without agency there could have been no joy, because we would have never known sadness there could be no growth because our choices would be taken away from us. So you can see the importance of our Savior’s plan to give us the opportunity to choose for ourselves.
Choosing joy is not to say that you are happy every minute of every day. It is an overarching feeling of peace and gladness that will sustain us through our weaknesses and difficulties.
In today’s changing world we are taught to believe that everything is about equality and to a certain extent that is true. We are equally all of God’s children, and He equally loves us all. But unfortunately, we are not equally born or raised in the same situations. God is no respecter of persons. He loves us all regardless of where we come from or what we do. In contrast, the adversary is the one that wants to control us. He has a great hold upon the hearts of people in this world. He wants us to believe that our choices do not have consequences. That we can do anything we want that makes us happy, regardless of how it may affect others.
And that is just not God’s way. In order for us to learn how to have a joyful heart, we have to make the tough choices and take responsibility for whatever the consequences may be.
When you pondered upon the questions that we talked about yesterday, who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What did you learn about yourself? Did you get down on your knees and pray to understand? Those really are some deep questions that many of us struggle with all the time. Finding true joy is a journey but once we find it, we will know. It will sustain us when things become difficult.
I believe that there is a difference in being happy and having joy. There are definitely ways that we can be happy and have fun in our lives. But happiness is fleeting. It is not something that we can have consistently with us just because of the nature of how our lives were created.
Joy, on the other hand, is a sustaining feeling. It can be with us even in the sad times and difficult trials. But we still have to choose it.
And the truth of the matter is, we must learn how to discover deep and abiding joy by trying. By making difficult decisions and choices for ourselves. God will not live our lives for us because he wants us to know for ourselves. And once we know for ourselves where that peace and joy comes from, we will strive harder to make the choices that will ensure that we do live a joyful life. Even during the hard.
Have a great day my friends! Talk to you again tomorrow!
I am going to tell you about my very first real experience with true grace in my life. I was around 27-28 years old. And had a growing, flourishing family. I had 4 children that were under the age of around 8.
I had struggled with depression for some time at this point and quite frankly,I just needed a break from all the chaos just for a little while. It was a beautiful Sunday morning And so I did something that I really never did at that time. I faked sick and had my husband take the children to church.
I really didn’t fake it totally. Depression is most definitely a sickness. But on this particular day, I just felt like if I didn’t get a break, I wasn’t going to make it one more day. Just to be clear, I was not suicidal, I just needed time to regroup. And 3 glorious hours to myself, sounded heavenly! At that time in the history of our church we spent 3 hours on the sabbath worshipping our Savior in the church building.
I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday saints, and so I’d had many experiences learning about repentance, forgiveness and grace. But had only applied it to my life in a few instances. I thought that repentance was for the really wrong things that you had done in your life, not something that I needed to do on a continual basis. I know, pretty naive.
Now I feel like repentance, forgiveness, and grace, are kind of like learning to ride a bike. At first it might be difficult and you may be a little wobbly and require trainging wheels to begin with. But once you learn, and those training wheels come off, you never forget the feeling of freedom you have, I know that because I was a bit of a slow learner.
I didn’t learn to ride a bike without training wheels until I was about 7 and all my friends had already learned. It was one of my best friends in the neighborhood who taught me how on her little red bike. I had gotten a cool shwinn with a basket for Christmas but it was a bit big for me still, which I think is why it took me longer. My friend Shelly, was so patient. She taught me how to balance and get my footing. She would walk with me each time we tried. And when I fell, she would get on the bike and show me the way again.
It wasn’t long before she was running beside me to catch me if I fell. But I had it down now, I was so proud! It was an exhilarating feeling, the wind in my hair and the gratitude that comes with accomplishment of something difficult.
Now let’s go back to Sunday that I faked sick. Just to give a little context, I had been a bit of a wild teenager. I had some rebellious years where I made a lot of stupid choices, as teenagers sometimes do. But by this time I had already taken care of those experiences through the repentance process. But I had a hard time forgiving myself for the stupid choices that I made during that time in my life. It seemed it would crop up and make me feel like I didn’t take care of it properly, or that I somehow wasn’t worthy to have the grace promised by the Savior.
Of course now I know, that all of that was just the adversary trying to keep me from moving forward and progressing. He really does that! He will try everything, especially when you are being obedient to the covenants that you have made with the Lord. His greatest joy is to have power over you.
On that Sunday morning, I happened to be feeling especially unworthy, I had just skipped church for no good reason. And made my husband take on that responsibility, knowing that it would be difficult to keep all 4 children under control and get them to where they needed to be, when it was time to go to Sunday school and primary. That’s what we call the worship for all our little children in our faith.
The longer it went the more guilty I felt. Even though it was a small thing, Satan began to work on me bringing up all the mistakes of the past and my mistakes and failings as a young parent.
Finally I opened up my scriptures and in the front of it, nicely folded from age. Was a blessing that in my church we receive at some point in our lives that we feel is given for direction and to help guide us here in our life on this side of the veil. It is something that we hold very sacred, specifically given to us, and not to be shared lightly with others. I hadn’t read mine in quite some time. I picked up the worn piece of paper and began to read. The words on the page seemed to jump out at me. Even though I’d read it dozens of times. Nuggets of wisdom and strength poured into my worn out mind and even my physical body. I began to highlight specific phrases and was guided to the parts that made me realize that though I had made all of those mistakes years ago and had taken care of it with the Lord. I never forgot about it.
In Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18, we read, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Again, in the fifty-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 42, which came with great force to my mind, we read, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”
That scripture came into my mind with such force and I knew that the Lord was telling me, it’s time to forget those things. I have forgotten them, now it’s your turn to forgive yourself. He promises us that through the holy ghost He will bring all things to our remembrance. And at that time I needed to remember that his grace will always be there to catch me when I fall.
I don’t need the training wheels anymore, once I’ve taken them off and released that burden, I can fly forward and go as far and as fast as I want, as long as I remember that His grace will always be with me. His grace is sufficient.
Forgiving ourselves for the stupid choices that we make is one of the most glorious parts of grace that the Savior gives us. Psalm 55:22 “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
Today my invitation to you is to take that thing that’s holding you back and like the training wheels, throw it out. It is of no use to you anymore. You are His, and He is yours!
Have a great weekend my friends and I will catch you all again next week!
Several years ago, I used to have index cards with positive quotes on them. I was working toward a specific goal and in that goal more than even being able to achieve it, I wanted to make sure that I was not only being true to my values, but that I was being me and not trying to imitate what someone else was doing. And so I would read these quotes every day in the hopes that they would be ingrained upon my mind. I would post sticky notes around the house that reminded me at all times of what I was working toward and quotes that were intended to help me reach that goal of being myself.
Today what I want to talk about is the courage to be you! Be the person that you were meant to be with no apologies. And make sure that you are holding true to your values and what God’s potential is for you.
There is a quote that I want to share with you today. It’s super short and so easy to remember so my challenge to you will be to memorize it so that you can be reminded that YOU are who you were meant to be.
Here’s the quote… ready? “In a world where you can be anything, be yourself!” Super easy right? Now I want you to repeat it along with me 3 times, only changing it to the first person with the last part being changed to I am meant to be myself. Ready?… In a world where I can be anything, I am meant to be myself. Again…in a world where I can be anything, I am meant to be myself…one more time…in a world where I can be anything, I am meant to be myself.
Now take a deep breath and visualize yourself in a way that represents you! And if you’re struggling with that. Maybe think of the person that you want to be. For example, if someone was writing your obituary, what would you want it to say about YOU? Not your credentials, and, where you lived, or places that you traveled or what you think defines you, such as she was a great mom, or he was a dog trainer. etc. etc.
What I want you to visualize is what someone would say about your character. What traits would you want them to list about you? So think about and ponder that for a minute. While I share some other thoughts.
There is an ancient temple in Greece, in some foothills near the ocean, that is dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Above the entrance of this temple, now referred to as the Oracle at Delphi, is the following well-known inscription: “Know thyself.” This simple yet profound invitation reflects an important step in our progression as human beings.
The Greeks believed that all humans are born with innate potential and that the purpose of life is to figure out what that potential is and to then act on it.
Guess who else believes in our potential and wants us to grow into the person that we were meant to be? You guessed it. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In a talk given at BYU by DONALD L. STAHELI he asks this question, “Is the road you are now traveling and the present conduct of your life leading you to achieve your full God-given potential?”
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said it another way: “The Lord loves each of us too much to merely let us go on being what we now are, for He knows what we have the possibility to become!”
Pretty thought provoking right?
Our world today is fraught with people trying to tell us a better way to live our lives. There is discouragement, distraction, and doubt at every turn. We see videos and social media plastered with people showing their “perfect reels”. But, the question becomes then, is what you see what you get? Are you putting out there what you want the world to see you as? Or are you standing up with courage and being your true self, who the Lord wants you to be, no matter the consequence?
In his talk Staheli goes on to say “I am convinced that distractions and discouragement are some of Satan’s most effective tools. He finds ways to help us make excuses as to why we can’t do this or that. He gets us involved in wasting our time and resources in things that lead us away from improving our lives and developing our talents. He blurs our focus by diverting our attention. And this can happen to the very best of us.
So as I said in the beginning, the challenge is to have the courage to be you with no apologies. This life is just too short to try and be something you are not. And maybe it takes you a while to figure out what that something is. But the best way to do that is to learn to know yourself by looking inward and looking upward to the one that know’s you better than you will ever know yourself! Have a great day my friends and we’ll do it all again tomorrow!
Today I want to talk to you about something that is really, really, difficult to do. Especially when you feel like you’ve been wronged or betrayed in some way. But if you can “just let that go” your life will be so much better!
President Gordan B. Hinckley once said “A spirit of forgiveness and an attitude of love and compassion toward those who may have wronged us is of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us has need of this spirit. The whole world has need of it. The Lord taught it. He exemplified it as none other has exemplified it.”
I’m going to be real and share a story with you about my own experience with forgiveness. It is an experience that affected my life in a much larger way than it needed to and one that I’m not proud of. It took me nearly 15 years to forgive someone who I felt had wronged me in a deep and personal way. And sadly, it all happened because of gossip!
It involved a very dear and loved friend of mine. She was actually like a sister to me. We talked everyday on the phone, we were partners in a great “adventure”, and spent time with eachother’s families. We were nearly inseparable. She meant the world to me. But, sadly, I chose to walk away from her over something someone told me that she had been doing behind my back for years.
I was devastated! I was heartsick, but most of all I just felt betrayed. How could she do such a thing? But at the time puzzle pieces began to fall into place of why others had treated me in such a negative way. I was told she had twisted my words and turned them into lies so that others would think poorly of me. This person went so far as to give me specific experiences, people, places, and things that had happened. How could I not believe them? They had proof, or so it seemed. I immediately confronted her with it over the phone. She had no explanation. She denied it all, sobbing uncontrollably that she would never do such a thing. But it all made so much sense to me about the way I had been treated through our little joint “adventure”, that I didn’t even give her a chance. I was so hurt and so angry. So I did the worst thing anyone can ever do to someone they love. I walked away.
I cried for days over our lost friendship. And the lies grew easier to believe. Our adventure had ended and I moved on with my life. Or so I thought.
For years and years I would play the scene in my head. How could she hurt me that way? She was so dear to me. Why would she do it? She was my friend. How did I not see it? Night after night I would think of how much I missed her friendship. Over the years the pain faded but I would think about it often and would grieve again for the loss of such a dear friend.
Then years later, when I was returning to the fold of Christ I realized that it was time. Truth is, it was way past time. It was time for me to just let it all go. It was the only way to move forward and be free of the pain. So one night I mustered up all the courage in the world and I sent her a heartfelt plea to forgive me for not giving her the chance to explain. I told her how sorry I was. And that I was wrong for behaving the way that I did. And that I hoped someday she could forgive me for behaving in that way. It certainly was not Christlike. I told her how much I missed our friendship and that I hoped she was doing good. And then I pressed send, not expecting to hear anything in return.
When I hit that button I felt peace flood over me for the first time in all those years. No matter what had really happened I was no longer going to let it hold space in my life going forward. It is not God’s way to carry such feelings in our hearts. The only place that comes from is the adversary. He wants nothing more than for us to live with regrets, remorse, anger, and hurt. Because then, he wins. Don’t let him win! You may not be able to control other’s agency to act in the way that they do, but you can control your agency! Have the courage to use your agency to forgive and move on with your life. There are bright things awaiting you.
Do you want to know the craziest part of this whole experience. A couple of days later, I received a message back from my long lost friend. I was afraid to open it.
But I think her words are the best way to end this podcast. (I hope she won’t mind). The message read:
“I too am sorry for the way things ended up between us. I do apologize from the bottom of my heart for the heartache I caused you. I NEVER, EVER would have done anything to intentionally cause you harm or heartache. In fact to this day… I’m not even sure what the whole-what’s, when’s or how’s this situation all happened?!?! What I do know is we all made mistakes and then our friendship was over. It broke my heart too.
As for forgiving you…I pray you can forgive me of the heartache I caused you?! I am so deeply sorry! All I know is… life is too short to hold on to any grudges. We need to put our arms around each other and push forward. Just so you know… I’ve always held you in high regard and have always considered you my friend. Even though we’ve had this little “hiccup” I let it go along time ago. You will always be considered a friend and my heart and door are always open to you. ….There’s no need to ask for forgiveness or worry about this anymore. You have always been good in my book.”
How’s that for Christ like behavior?! She definitely is great women in the body of Christ! She taught me the true meaning of forgiveness that day. It’s all about love!
So today my invitation to you is to muster up the courage to use your agency to forgive someone that has hurt you. It may not end the way that mine did. But I promise you that if you will just let go, and let God take the wheel. It will bring a peace to your soul that can not be matched!
Have a great day my friends. Talk to you all again tomorrow!