Years ago, Stake Conference used to have a whole different meaning for me…no early meetings, and if I were tired, I could skip it completely because I didn't ever have a personal assignment. When the kids were little, we would go to the Sunday session, but not the Saturday night meeting. Somewhere along the way, I started trying to get to both. Then I became Relief Society President and I actually wanted to go, besides the fact that my presence might be missed by the sisters in my ward. But this time was a little different. Our Stake President, President Pugmire, had asked that we attend the temple in preparation for our Stake Conference meetings, which I did. He had also challenged us to a daily devotional, which I have accomplished about 4 days out of 7 during the week…something I will continue to work on. With just this little bit of added preparation, I was looking forward to the messages that would be shared. Next time, I will take paper and pen to take notes. My brain is getting old (as well as the before shared other body parts) and my recall isn't what it used to be. But there were several things that I do remember, and I think that perhaps these are the messages that the Spirit wants me to work on, and maybe help others to understand more clearly.
On my mind are now these things:
Finding the one
Knowing that our Heavenly Father knows us personally and by name;
Not being too hard on ourselves and knowing that God is pleased with the good we are doing;
Bearing one another's burden of sin through forgiveness;
Not being angry at God for our grief and loss, but overcoming sorrow through serving and bringing comfort to others.
Now that they are down, I'll cover one at a time, especially since it's getting late. So since I feel like I'm running behind because I took my Sunday afternoon nap, I choose #3.
It is hard in a religion that preaches perfection to not expect that of ourselves. In Matthew 5:48 it says:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
In 3 Nephi 12:48 as slightly different wording:
Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
There…in black and white, the New Testament and the Book of Mormon BOTH say it. Perfection is the goal. But we mortal beings will always fall short. King Benjamin, in Mosiah 3:19 explains:
The natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
Perfection will not be achieved in a single day, month or year. It takes a whole lifetime. But it is also not achieved standing still. It can be done one step at a time, but those steps are required. Beating ourselves up for our mistakes doesn't really accomplish much. Committing ourselves to do better should be our goal. The debt for sin has already been paid. The Atonement has been made. The idea of repentance is so that we can move on and not be burdened with sin. As we try to bear one another's burdens, as we serve each other…each time we help another along the way, our Heavenly Father is pleased. Remember that He knows each of us, not only by name, but by our personality, our strengths and our weaknesses. If we sincerely pray for opportunities to serve, our Heavenly Father will provide them. As we accept these opportunities, we will take one more step towards that goal of being like our Father, one step closer to perfection. I know that I am far away from my goal, but I am trying to take steps in the right direction.
In John 3:16, we read:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
When we accept our Heavenly Father's love, and try to follow the example of our Savior, we will be guided to the paths on which we should take those one-at-a-time steps.
There's a little song from the Disney movie, "Pinocchio" where Jiminy Cricket is teaching Pinocchio how to deal with temptation.
"Give a Little Whistle"
When you get in trouble and you don't know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle!
When you meet temptation and the urge is very strong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle!
Not just a little squeak, pucker up and blow
And is your whistle's weak, yell, "Jiminy Cricket!" Right!
Take the straight and narrow path and if you start to slide
Give a little whistle, give a little whistle!
And always let your conscience be your guide.
Now…if I catch any of you whistling, maybe I'll worry about what's tempting you. If you're yelling "Jiminy Cricket" that will seal the deal. But all you need to do is change that last line to read: "And always let the Spirit be your guide" and you'll get the help you need.
Have a great week!