Monday, February 16, 2015

Shades of Grey....

There's a movie that came out recently that has been in the news. It is called Fifty Shades of Grey, and from what I've heard and read, it is about control. The male lead wants to control everything. I have absolutely no desire to see the film, but the name has me thinking, as I have been immersed in studies this week concerning choices we make, our freedom to choose and the consequences of those choices.
In both of my Pathway courses, we have been studying and discussing choices and setting goals. It seems that this week (like the others) I feel the lessons were made just for me.

Let's think about grey - does grey have both black and white in it? grey somewhere between black and white? Do we live in the grey? Heavenly Father did not intend for us to live in the grey. To Him, there is black and there is white. Satan wants the grey. He loves the grey. He allows some truth, but riddled with lies. He's comfortable in confusion.  He has numerous shades of grey, way more than fifty. What can we do? We can stay where we can determine black and white. We can have the guidance of the Spirit. We can go to Him when we must make decisions.

We can study things in our minds, and determine our best plan of action. We can then go and pray and see if our choice aligns with Heavenly Father's will for us. We will know either by a calm, warm feeling or by a stupor of thought. We can then adjust our decision and go again to our Father for confirmation. Then, after receiving it, we can move forward with confidence.

I love how President Kimball explains how right decisions now can help us withstand temptations later. He says, 
"One of the basic tasks for each individual is the making of decisions. A dozen times a day we come to a fork in the road and must decide which way we will go. Some alternatives are long and hard, but they take us in the right direction toward our ultimate goal; others are short, wide, and pleasant, but they go off in the wrong direction. It is important to get our ultimate objectives clearly in mind so that we do not become distracted at each fork in the road by the irrelevant questions: Which is the easier or more pleasant way? or, Which way are others going? Right decisions are easiest to make when we make them well in advance, having ultimate objectives in mind; this saves a lot of anguish at the fork, when we’re tired and sorely tempted."
We must look out for the forks in the road, for these are our pivot points. How we move through those will determine which path we are on. We are either coming unto Christ, or moving further away. 
This isn't meant to be burdensome. With obedience comes happiness and peace. Elder Joseph B Wirthlin taught us his approach in the October 1999 Priesthood session of General Conference: "But every day I try to put Heavenly Father first in my life, I try to come unto Christ and follow Him as my Savior and Redeemer, I nurture the companionship of the Holy Ghost, love and revere the Prophet Joseph, and listen to and follow God’s prophet today. As I do those things, I am confident the Lord will bless me."
 I want to resolve to make better decisions as I strive to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and take my decisions to my Heavenly Father in prayer for His confirmation.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Be of Good Cheer"

It is after midnight and I am sitting at my dad's kitchen table in Marysville, Ohio. But I have been studying and learning.....and actually enjoying myself. I love to learn, and I have begun a more directed study recently. Kelly and I have begun the Pathway Program through BYU-Idaho.
Yes, we are old and going to school, and we actually love it.

Just tonight, I was listening again to some words spoken by someone I greatly admire and respect, Elder Jeffrey R Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

I was studying his talk "The Tongue of Angels". I was especially touched by his statement -

"I suppose it goes without saying that negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves. We see our own faults, we speak - or at least think - critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything. No sunshine, no roses, no promise of hope or happiness. Before long we and everybody around us are miserable."

This sounds like a horrible way to go through life....or even a day. So what do we do about it?  Elder Holland goes on to say:

"We should honor the Savior's declaration to "be of good cheer". (Indeed, it seems to me we may be more guilty of breaking that commandment than almost any other!)  Speak hopefully. Speak encouragingly, including about yourself. Try not to complain and moan incessantly. 
Yes, life has its problems, and yes, there are negative things to face, but please accept one of Elder Holland's maxims for living - no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won't make it worse."

I have been studying the experiences of Lehi and Sariah in the Book of Mormon. As I think of Sariah, I think of her leaving friends, home and comfort in Jerusalem to go with her husband and children into the wilderness, as Lehi's life was in danger and he was directed by the Lord to flee. Then, her boys, Nephi, Sam, Laman and Lemuel were sent back to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of scripture - back to the place where people wanted to kill her husband! She became worried when so much time went by and they hadn't returned. Perhaps she even became desperate. My mother heart hurts for her as I think of her anguish. She just needed some word her babies were safe. So....she complains to her husband. Elder W Craig Zwick says she spoke to him "in the language of anger, doubt and blame". And how does he respond?  He listens, he comforts, and "speaks to her in the language of compassion."

There it is. You know....that moment when you see something you want to become. I want to be known as someone who speaks this language. I want to speak that beautiful language of compassion with all I meet. And especially, with my family and those I love the most. While this can be a quest for a lifetime, every attempt will bring us closer to Christ. There has been no one who ever walked the earth who spoke this language more clearly than our Master.

I have already learned so much in these two weeks. I am grateful for this "tender mercy" of the Pathway Program. Oh yeah..."tender mercies", that's another thing....let me tell you what I've learned about that.....ok, in another post.