Diligent in Faith

Joseph Smith-An example of friendship and character

One of my favorite verses of scripture is Joseph Smith-History 1:28. In this verse Joseph Smith is recounting a time after the First Vision when he is experiencing severe persecution because he would not deny that he had seen a vision. There are many things that can be learned from this verse.

“…persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends…”

It won’t always be strangers who treat us cruelly or unfairly because of our beliefs. Sometimes it will be those who are closest to us. When we face persecution from friends or family members, how do we deal with it? Do we continue to reaffirm what we know to be true, or do we change who we are to make it easier to maintain the relationship?

“…and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me…”

There will be times in our lives, too, where we may be on the other side. We may have a friend or family member who we believe is doing something wrong. We may even describe them as deluded, out of their mind, crazy, or just plain ignorant to believe what they believe. In those circumstances, do we continue to treat them with the respect and affection we should, or do we resort to persecution like Joseph Smith experienced?

“…I was left to all kinds of temptations…I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature;…”

So often, we hold those in leadership positions to a higher standard of behavior. As a leader it is reasonable to expect them to set a good example, it is not reasonable to expect them to be infallible. They are subject to the same human experience that we all are.

“…I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been…”

This may be my favorite part of this verse. At first reading it may seem silly to even think of levity as something one should feel guilty of. There is no commandment I am aware of that strictly outlaws levity. But the seriousness of the sin is not what is important here. It is what is unspoken that I find most important. Joseph Smith felt that he had sinned. That feeling was probably a prompting from the Holy Ghost that he listened to and acted on. How many times have you been prompted by the Holy Ghost to not do something that you enjoy? How often have you listened to that prompting? Do we acknowledge that those promptings are from the Holy Ghost and act appropriately in response?

If you continue reading in further verses you learn that Joseph Smith went to the Lord to ask for forgiveness of his sins. This is a great example to all of us of how we should ask forgiveness even of those sins that may seem trivial or minor.

It is my hope that I can continue to be diligent in standing up for my beliefs, being a friend to those around me, supporting my leaders even with their weaknesses, and listening to the spirit to repent of those things that need to be repented of.

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Potential and Perspective

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I was laying in bed this morning when I began thinking about potential. I’m not sure exactly when or where the stream of thought started, but here’s what I remember of where it went.

  • The phrase, “I see a lot of potential,” is frequently used when speaking of talents, skills, and other ways we may measure success in this world.
  • The opposite of that phrase may be, “This person will amount to nothing.”
  • People often live up to the potential, or lack of, that others see in them and then express.
  • Beyond worldly success and potential, though, is our divine potential.
  • Because we are all the spirit children of God, EVERY person has the divine potential to become even as He is.

It was an interesting stream of thought to get my day started and I decided that I needed to really focus on these thoughts as I did my scripture study this morning. When I did a search for the word potential I came across a link to the talk “The Eternal Perspective of the Gospel” by Elder Rafael E. Pino of the Seventy given during April 2015 General Conference. Elder Pino teaches that it is essential to have a gospel centered perspective when making decisions that affect eternity. Specifically, he said,

“The eternal perspective of the gospel leads us to understand the place that we occupy in God’s plan, to accept difficulties and progress through them, to make decisions, and to center our lives on our divine potential.”

93b938d03af3210929db7e2973f6423cI was reminded of other reading I have done recently on perspective. Stephen R. Covey speaks of our paradigms, or the way that our vision of reality and our values influence how we interpret the world around us. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People he speaks of an experiment he participated in where a room full of people were shown different images that ultimately influenced what they saw in the now well-known Old Lady or Young Woman optical illusion. It took only 10 seconds for paradigms or perceptions to be set in such a way that one image or the other in the illusion was the one an individual would see first. In most cases this group of people could not see the alternate image at all until they really started to talk with each other in an attempt to understand another perspective.

Our perspective in any situation highly influences the reality that we experience. I’ve come to a couple of important conclusions about potential and perspective today.

  1. Our perspective influences not just what we see, but how we react to it.
  2. When measuring a person’s potential, our own or someone else’s, it is important to understand the perspective we are measuring that potential from.
  3. When viewed from a mortal perspective a person’s potential may appear limited or nonexistent.
  4. When viewed from an eternal perspective that same person has unlimited potential.
  5. We can be taught to look from either the mortal perspective or the eternal perspective.

I am a daughter of a loving Father in Heaven. I have the choice to see myself from His perspective with the unlimited potential that includes, or to measure myself against the world’s standard and the idea that there may be limits to what I can accomplish. I am a wife and mother in my own family. I have the choice to look at my husband and children from an eternal perspective or mortal perspective as well, and I have the responsibility to strengthen and encourage my family to see their own divine potential. I am a member of the human race, a wide society of individuals who all had the same start as spirit children of God. I have the choice to view them with an eternal perspective that imparts potential without bias, or to view them through a mortal perspective that defines potential based on class, ability, gender, race, or any other number of things.

I choose an eternal perspective based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I choose unlimited divine potential. Do my words and actions help others to also discover and reach for their unlimited divine potential?

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General Conference in 3 Words

I started writing a talk-by-talk summary of the 185th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I realized that I could sum up the entire weekend in 3 words: family, atonement, and love.

FAMILY

The topics of talks are not assigned, but it is clear that many of our church leaders feel that it is crucial to focus on the family. More than once it was emphasized that the family is not just a part of God’s plan of happiness, it is the key. Family life, when lived in the way God ordained, will lead us to true happiness in this life and the next, and will bring us blessings we can obtain no other way.

ATONEMENT

Because this past weekend was also Easter weekend there were many talks on and mentions of our Savior’s final days and resurrection. Every time this was mentioned I felt a greater need within myself to develop a deeper understanding of the atonement. I felt that my relationship with our Savior had the basis of belief in Him that everyone needs, but lacks that complete acceptance of the gift that the atonement is. I want to refocus my personal study to learn more about the atonement and how to consistently apply it in my life.

LOVE

Every conference the leaders of the church express their love for the members. If you follow along on social media you will see many expressions of love from the members of the church towards its leaders. In the talks you hear expressions of love from the speakers to their family, friends, church leaders, Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father. This happens at ever General Conference. What was different this time around was how much I noticed the love I felt while listening to the talks. I felt a renewed love for my family. I felt a renewed love for the Savior and his atonement. I felt a genuine love for the leaders of the church and a deep gratitude for the spirit they shared along with their messages.

What word(s) would you use to sum up your conference experience?

If you were unable to watch General Conference live, audio and video recordings are now available at LDS.org. Written transcripts are also made available about a week after conference airs.

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Gratitude

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is being aware of and appreciating blessings and kindnesses given to us.

Before we can express appreciation for something we first need to recognize that it is indeed a blessing from God. It is important to remember that God often works through others to bless us. So, every time we are a recipient of an act of kindness we should show appreciation to both the giver and our Heavenly Father for that act of kindness.

What can we be thankful for?

In the Book of Mormon King Benjamin gives a speech to his people and gives them instruction on living righteously. He speaks in Mosiah 2:19-24 on thankfulness.

19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!
20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

We should be thankful with our whole souls for the service given to us by others, that God has created and preserved us, and that we can live, move, and do according to our own will.

And that’s just the beginning. Throughout the scriptures we read about being thankful and the many things we have to be thankful for.  In Doctrine and Covenants 59:7 we read the simplest instructions of all.

Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.

So, what are you grateful for?

How do we express gratitude?

We can express gratitude through sincere words of thanks and through actions that show our appreciation.

The words “thank you” are simple to say and when we say them sincerely we take the first step of expressing our gratitude. The second step is to show through your actions that you appreciate what someone has done for you. It’s easy to think of ways we can show gratitude to the people around us. It’s more difficult to find ways we can show our gratitude to our Heavenly Father. King Benjamin taught us in Mosiah 2:22 that, “all that [Heavenly Father] requires of you is to keep his commandments.”

How often should we express gratitude?

When Amulek was preaching to the people of his time, he taught them to “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which [Heavenly Father] doth bestow upon you” (Alma 34:38). For the Strength of Youth tells us to “have a spirit of gratitude in all you do and say… Even in your most difficult times, you can find much to be grateful for.” We should work to make gratitude a habit.

What happens when we express gratitude?

An increased spirit of gratitude will bring increased joy into our lives.

Think of a time when you received a gift. Think about how you felt when you expressed gratitude. Now think of a time you gave a gift. Think about how you felt when the person you gave that gift to expressed their gratitude to you. Gratitude brings joy to the person who feels gratitude and anyone they share that gratitude with.

Heavenly Father has also promised us blessings for expressing our gratitude in Doctrine and Covenants 78:19.

And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.

I don’t know about you, but the promise that being thankful for the things we have will lead to more blessings sounds like a great promise to me.

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