Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The 100% Rule

I've been getting promptings over the last few weeks that I can't ignore anymore. It's seriously obnoxious how obvious I need things to be for me to start taking action. Well today was a tipping point, and I thought I'd write down my thoughts before they flutter away and I need another 3 weeks to remember what all the hubbub was about....

Prompting #1: Commit 100%
It started a few weeks ago with an article that popped up on my Facebook feed. I will probably use this instance in the future as a reason not to delete my Facebook account, even though 95% of the time, it is a waste of time and mental energy. But on this day, Facebook proved to be helpful and inspiring. I was directed to an article that talked about the 100-Percent Rule. It has a click-baity title and is meant to seem life-changing and awe-inspiring--and it totally was for me, so I don't mind the packaging in which it came.

The author, Susie Moore, talks about the endeavors we pursue in life--not eating sugar, writing a book, cutting down on online shopping. Our successes in these endeavors depends upon the effort we put into them. She then states a simple truth that hit me:
“Ninety-nine percent is hard—100 percent is easy.”

She goes on to discuss the downfalls of not committing to our endeavors wholeheartedly.
It's far too easy to waste our time, money, and energy by not committing wholeheartedly to something important to us.... But it's our well-meaning "99-percent effort" that is exhausting. It consumes energy without producing results. It’s stressful. It makes us feel like a failure when we’re not—we just haven’t fully committed to something. Putting 99-percent effort into things that matter in life means we are constantly falling short of our potential—and feeling bad about it.
There was a nagging sensation in the back of my head as I read this. While there are a lot of endeavors I'm pursuing in my life, my heart keeps going back to one area that sits at the top of my priority list: I've been trying to be better at studying my scriptures more sincerely. I've been trying to be better at conversing with my Heavenly Father in meaningful ways. I've been trying to be better at appreciating my husband and all that he does for my family. Basically, I've been trying to be better at becoming more Christ-like.

But what if I stop trying to be better and just commit 100% to being better?

Susie goes on to talk about her own experience in committing to writing a book she'd been working on for the last two years. When she decided to commit 100% instead of just 99%, she stopped wasting energy debating whether she should write or go out, write or call a friend, write or buy groceries. The choice was easy because she was all in: WRITE!

We all have these daily battles with ourselves, don't we? For me, it's, "Should I say my morning prayers or try to catch a few more minutes of sleep before I have to get up to attend to my son?" "Should I reach out to this woman in my neighborhood to see how she's doing or should I check if any new houses have popped up on the market that might look interesting?" "Should I look back over my day and think of things I could improve upon for tomorrow or should I watch another episode of Bob's Burgers?"

I should be motivated to commit to these better things naturally. I know I'll feel better when I commit to a higher standard of living. Even in more temporal matters, Susie sums it up well.
True happiness is the joy we experience when we move toward our potential. The beautiful part is when we apply the 100-percent rule to a task at hand, we complete it. A project gets wrapped. A once-hopeful intention becomes a habit. A goal is met.... And when we give 100 percent, other not-as-important stuff falls away in the meantime: It’s an awesome perk to an already pretty-awesome rule.
Of course, what often stops me from committing 100% to being more Christ-like is that there are a TON of ways I can be more Christ-like! I often reference a Neal A. Maxwell talk that beautifully outlines attributes of the Savior:
Meek and humble--not self-concerned, dismissive, proud, seeking ascendancy. Blessed are the meek because they are not easily offended. Besides, those who "shine as lights in the world" have no need to seek the spotlight! (See Philippians 2:15.) The world's spotlights are not only fleeting, but they employ inferior light!
Patient--not hectic, hurried, pushy.
Full of love--not demanding, dominating, manipulative, condescending, or harsh.
Gentle--not coarse, brusque, and vindictive.
Easily entreated--not unapproachable, inaccessible, and nonlistening.
Long-suffering--not impatient, disinterested, curt, easily offended. There are so many people in the Church, brothers and sisters, waiting to be offended. And it doesn't take long. If one has a chip on his or her shoulder, you can't make it through the foyer, so to speak, without getting it knocked off.
Submissive to God--not resistant to the Spirit, counsel, and life's lessons.
Temperate (self-restrained)--not egoistic, eager for attention and recognition, or too talkative. In your life and mine, the great moments of commendation and correction have come usually in one-liners.
Merciful--not judgmental and unforgiving. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall know the caress of causality as their forgiving mercy restores others to wholeness! Though God is perfected in the attributes of justice and mercy, we read that, finally, "Mercy overpowereth justice" (Alma 34:15).
Gracious--not tactless, easily irritated, ungenerous.
Holy--not worldly.
This is a wonderfully comprehensive list, but MAN is it daunting! Whenever I feel, as Henry B. Eyring put it, those "impulses... to rise above yourself into a higher and more beautiful world," I'm almost immediately bombarded with discouraging thoughts. You're not very diligent in reading your scriptures. You're really bad at gossiping. You don't even do your visiting teaching most of the time, and you want to have Christ-like charity?! Blah, blah, blah... Boy, does Satan know how to wear me down so that I am so "mired in the ooze of self-pity" that I can't move anywhere at all.

Enter Prompting #2: Pick One Thing to Commit to

After reading this article and feeling that tug, that pull to reach higher, then immediately quashing it with the overwhelming laundry list that inevitably followed, I came across this talk by Henry B. Eyring titled, "Come Unto Christ." I'd been having the feeling that what I needed to focus on most immediately was my relationship with Christ through His atoning sacrifice. I'm familiar with the repentance process--I know that we are supposed to repent of our sins frequently, even daily if we can. However, this knowledge was not translating into action, and I'd been feeling like I should probably do something about that.

Repentance, as President Eyring points out, is a Greek word. It means, "To have a new mind." I have not been letting the Atonement permeate my life so that I am actually changed by it. Eyring then goes over some scriptures that have helped him know how to reach for that better and changed version of ourselves. First, he reviews Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-17:

Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I.

Eyring ponders on this.
Two things dawned on me. First, if I could not repent to qualify for his atonement for my sins, I must suffer to the limit of my power to suffer. And, second, with all the requisite suffering of my own, with all I could bear, it would still not be enough. I would still be forever shut out of the only place where there will be the warmth of family, the family of my Heavenly Father whom I have loved and whom I miss, and that of my family here. 
Somehow I had gotten the idea that the choice was between repenting or not. And then I realized that whatever pain repentance might bring in this life, it was certainly no more than the pain I would face if I did not repent here, and yet that later pain could not lift me home. It could not bring the mercy I needed.
At this point, I was all ears. I knew I needed to repent more frequently and more meaningfully, and now I knew I REALLY needed to repent more frequently and meaningfully.

Then I started wondering, since the Atonement is such an abstract concept, how can I be sure I'm "doing it right"? Well, as if reading my mind, President Eyring addressed that, too.
For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment. They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Nephi 9:20). (Ezra Taft Benson)
... [What can I do] to gain assurance that I [am] on the path home? Specific steps to assure that the Atonement is at work in your life will not always be the same. ... But for everyone, at every stage of purification, there are constants. One is this: reception of the Holy Ghost is the cleansing agent as the Atonement purifies you. 
... That is a fact you can act on with confidence. You can invite the Holy Ghost’s companionship in your life. And you can know when he is there, and when he withdraws. And when he is your companion, you can have confidence that the Atonement is working in your life.
So, positive sign #1: The Holy Ghost is With You. As Elder F. Enzio Busche says, “You want to be good and to do good. That is commendable. But the greatest achievement that can be reached in our lives is to be under the complete influence of the Holy Ghost. Then he will teach us what is really good and necessary to do.”

Positive sign #2: You commit 100%

President Eyring illustrated this principle with which I'd already been grappling by telling a personal story:
Once, as a bishop of a ward, I worked with a young man not much older than many of you. He’d made great mistakes and had been moved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to make long and painful repentance. We were down to the weeks before he was to be married in the temple. I had long before forgiven him in the name of the Church and had given him his temple recommend. Yet he remembered that I had said, “The Lord will forgive you in his own time and in his own way.” But now he was deeply concerned. He came to my office and he said: “You told me that the Lord would someday let me know that I was forgiven. But I am going to the temple to marry a wonderful girl. I want to be the best I can be for her. I need to know that I am forgiven. And I need to know now. Tell me how to find out.” I said I would try.
He gave me a deadline. My memory is that it was within less than two weeks. 
I went to Salt Lake City, and there I found myself seeing Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, at a social function. He walked up to me in that crowd and said, “Hal, I understand that you are now a bishop. Do you have anything you would like to ask me?” 
I said that I did... Without breaking confidences, as I have not with you, I outlined the concerns and the question of this young man in my ward. Then I asked Elder Kimball, “How can he get that revelation? How can he know whether his sins are remitted?”
I thought Elder Kimball would talk to me about fasting or prayer or listening for the still small voice. But he surprised me. Instead he said, “Tell me something about the young man.”
I said, “What would you like to know?”
And then he began a series of the most simple questions. Some of the ones I remember were:
“Does he come to his priesthood meetings?”
I said, after a moment of thought, “Yes.”
“Does he come early?”
“Does he sit down front?”
I thought for a moment and then realized, to my amazement, that he did.
“Does he home teach?”
“Does he go early in the month?”
“Yes, he does.”
“Does he go more than once?”
I can’t remember the other questions. But they were all like that—little things, simple acts of obedience, of submission. And for each question I was surprised that my answer was always yes. Yes, he wasn’t just at all his meetings: he was early; he was smiling; he was there not only with his whole heart, but with the broken heart of a little child, as he was every time the Lord asked anything of him. And after I had said yes to each of his questions, Elder Kimball looked at me, paused, and then very quietly said, “There is your revelation.”
Sufficiently humble. Stripped of pride. Stripped of envy. Never making a mock of his brother.
When that change of heart comes to me and to you, when we are cleansed and blameless before God, it will be because we have been made pure by the blood of Christ. ... And I know at least one way to know that is happening in your life, or in mine. You will have put yourself so often in the Master’s service, bringing the cleansing companionship of the Holy Ghost, that you will be on the front row, early, whenever and wherever the Master calls. It will be gradual enough that you may not notice. You will be humble enough that you may be reluctant to believe it is happening. But those with spiritual discernment who love you will know. And the Savior and our Heavenly Father will know. And that is enough.
 So, here was another answer to my prayers. The one way I knew I could tackle my huge laundry list was by focusing on one thing: Using the Atonement more regularly and meaningfully in my life. I could gauge that by measuring how often I felt the Spirit with me and working through me and by how committed I was to my spiritual responsibilities. This list of responsibilities might seem daunting, but not if they're a product instead of a focus of my efforts. My focus will always be to use the Atonement more regularly and meaningfully in my life. If I am doing that, responsibilities will be fulfilled promptly and diligently because my heart is in the right place.

Prompting #3: Start Now

So, with all of these insights swimming around in my mind, I still wasn't moving my butt to act on what I'd been given. You'd think General Conference would've been the place I'd gotten more insight, but, alas, it wasn't until a couple days after when I was finally ready to listen. On a drive today, I played Marvin J. Ashton's talk, "And in Everything Give Thanks," which I had never heard or read before, but for some reason it was on my playlist of church talks. In it, Elder Ashton said many wonderful things, but the most resonating counsel he gave was this--
In recalling some of the Savior’s well-known teachings, the word now can be appropriately added to emphasize their impact. 
John 14:15: “If ye love me, keep my commandments”—NOW. 
Mark 16:15: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”—NOW. 
Luke 18:22: “Come, follow me”—NOW. 
Truly, if we love God, we will serve him now, and give thanks now.
SO! Three promptings later, I am inspired to finally work on my endeavors! This post is very personalized--maybe most of you don't need to focus as much as I do on using the Atonement more fully in my life--but hopefully the principles behind my personal experiences can resonate with you:

1. Whatever your heart's been telling you to do--COMMIT AND DO IT!

And 2. God loves us so friggin' much. He cared enough about me--thick-headed me--to give me not one but three opportunities to come closer to Him.

It's not like He's asked me to do something hard. He's asked me to do something good. That means it will ultimately make my life more rich and meaningful. I always come to this realization when I set off on a holier course, but for some reason, something gets lost in the journey and I have to start all over again. Thank goodness for a patient, kind Heavenly Father who keeps working with me at every step (and misstep) of the journey.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On Birth and Other Positive Things

Please know that I've been nervous to write this post, but I've thought about writing it for a long time. I've tried to be thoughtful and to not be biting or accusatory. Please please do not take any of this in that spirit. I only wish to address a concern and hopefully spread some awareness.

I haven't shared much of my pregnancy/birth experiences online. This is partly because I know so many who struggle with fertility and don't want to see another pregnancy post on their feed (I apologize for the millions of photos I've posted of my boy if that also isn't fun to see all the time--that's an obsession I should tackle later) and partly because there are so many stories out there! I don't want to invalidate anyone's experiences by saying my way was a better way, or that my story is the way yours will turn out. If you've birthed a baby, you've done one of many amazing things! If you haven't birthed a baby, you've done other amazing things! So now that we get that disclaimer out of the way, here are my thoughts....

My first pregnancy with Theodore was a transforming experience for me. I'd initially gone into it thinking I would have my baby at the hospital and try for no epidural, but after biting on a wooden spoon for hours, I'd be open to one if I couldn't "handle it." I went to a wonderful doctor recommended by a wonderful friend and asked this doctor for suggestions for a birthing class. She recommended hypnobirthing. I'd known a few friends who had gone that route and I'd heard positive things, so Stephen and I jumped into it, not knowing it would completely change our path.

Hypnobirthing is not about hypnosis. It's not some guy waving a watch in front of your face. It's about relaxing your body so that it can birth the way it knows how, and it's also about empowering your mind so that your negative emotions/experiences won't color the situation at hand. What I took from that class more than anything else was that I knew what I wanted for my body and my baby and that I should listen to that. So, at 32 weeks, I switched doctors, and at 36 weeks, I switched doctors again, only this time, it was to a midwife, and we'd made the decision to have our baby at home. (NOTE: I'm not saying everyone needs to have a home birth--goodness knows some pregnancies aren't as low-risk as mine was--but it was the right choice for me because hospitals make me anxious, doctors make me feel slightly stupid, and the most calming situation I could imagine was being in my house with my husband and a midwife. So that's what we did.)

While planning for this first birth, I'd heard so many expressions of surprise, discouragement, defensiveness, and sometimes ridicule, mostly from other women.

Maybe I'd unknowingly prompted this in my zealousness for a natural childbirth--anyone who's given birth has done something huge! (I've said that already, right? Have I emphasized it enough? HUGE!) And I hope I've never communicated that if someone's birth was medicated that the birth wasn't as significant. I apologize if that ever seemed the case.

However, whether due to a need to defend our experiences, or to prove that we're tough, or to show that we know more than someone else, I've noticed a frustrating trend of sharing the worst of our birthing experiences with others--most often with new mothers. This is not helpful! The birth of my first ended up being a calm, beautiful experience. It was hard, but nothing about it was negative. I wouldn't change a thing.

So, I had the baby! I had a baby! I no longer felt stupid speaking up in conversations about childbirth because (here's my badge) I DID IT! But during conversations in which I've participated, I still haven't said much about this frustrating trend, and I hate confrontation, so I'm getting all my thoughts out here in the interwebs. (:

Let's stop scaring each other.

Let's stop defending ourselves to each other.

Let's stop laughing at others who want to do something different.

You may laugh at me because I've only had one baby so far, and that birth was a friggin' piece of cake compared to yours. But what if it wasn't just because my body is lucky? What if my positivity helped a little, too?

Again, this is something I've never talked about in a public sphere, because it is so sensitive. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or make anyone feel inferior. I only want us ladies to have each others' backs--in birth and any other sphere of life.

During this second pregnancy, I've dealt with a whole new set of fears in having two babies under 2. This second baby was a big surprise, so I've had my own negative/anxious thoughts I've had to address and try to meet with fairness and positivity. I'm in a much better place now in managing something so unexpected, yet, during this journey I've continued to notice other women communicating negativity to me. "Ugh! You're braver than me!" "Wow! Good luck with that!" "Your first was an easy kid? Get ready for a hellion."

Why do we do this??? Why do we spread misery to those who need to be uplifted?

Now, before anyone feels that biting or accusatory tone I mentioned in my preface, let me emphasize that I know I do this in other spheres of life. I think about all those times I said to a college kid, "If you want a masters, get it right after you graduate, otherwise you won't ever want to go back!" Or when I've heard some tween is entering middle school and I say, "So glad that part of my life is over!" Definitely not promoting positivity there!

Being pregnant again has just reminded me to check myself and to try to temper these habits because I'm currently at the other end of that experience and realizing how not fun it is to be the recipient of all that negativity. But we all do it. It's a human thing, right? When we've known a hardship, we tend to snuff out the positivity around us. Maybe we want to defend our experiences. Maybe we want to help others not be blindsided like we were. Maybe we don't know why the heck we do it and it just comes out of us without prompting.

Now, some people really do have good intentions. I had a conversation with a neighbor early on in my pregnancy where she told me, "It's okay to feel anxious about this. You're doing something hard! It's okay if you need help." That was advice I needed to hear while feeling guilty about all of my negative feelings. The key difference in this interaction was that it was said in a spirit of love, and not in a spirit of flippancy.

So, in practicing my hypnobirthing techniques again this second time around, I'm reminded of the need for confidence, positivity, and solidarity. This second birth is going to be awesome. I'm going to have two kids so close in age that they will be best friends. My husband and I are capable people who will have joy and thrive with two young babies. Those are my much needed positive affirmations.

To you expecting mothers, I affirm this-- Your body is capable of amazing things. You are strong. Nature made your body able to give birth smoothly, calmly, and beautifully. Your body and your baby know how to work together in harmony. You will have a positive birth experience.

To all women, I affirm this-- You are powerful--more powerful than you realize. You can influence the people around you.

Let's choose to influence for good.

Love you all.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Chat With My Hairdresser

I've had a lot to think about since the General Conference of our church, two weeks ago. So many wonderful messages were shared about service, forgiveness, testimonies, families, peace, and our divine potential. I watched these sessions of Conference, as many do, with questions about my family, our future, and how to enrich our lives, and, while I'm sure I will receive answers to those questions as I go back and study these talks, I was overwhelmed by a message of love from my Heavenly Father. I realized that I do not spend enough time pondering that divine truth. Our Father loves us.

I met with my hairstylist yesterday, who had a wealth of wisdom he imparted to me. He said,
"Whitney, we are beings of love. When your son was born and you held him in your arms, he didn't have to do anything--you immediately loved him. You loved him so purely and intensely because he was yours. That's how our Heavenly Father feels about each of us." It put things into a very real perspective for me because I can't tell you how much love I felt (and continue to feel) when I look at my little boy.
It overwhelms me, sometimes. Me, with all the imperfect shallowness of emotion my mortal body can feel. I cannot imagine how my Heavenly Father feels when He sees His children--I definitely cannot imagine how He feels when He sees me, that's a concept I'm afraid I don't entertain very often.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave an exquisite talk this last Conference about that very same thought. He begins with a similar comparison to our Heavenly Father by first describing how the brethren of the Church feel about us, “Brothers and sisters, do you have any idea—do you have any notion or inkling whatsoever—of how much we love you? For 10 hours you watch, fixed on one face at this pulpit sequentially, but for those same 10 hours, we seated behind this pulpit watch, fixed on you. You thrill us to the center of our soul.”

If that doesn't make you feel all warm and tingly, maybe this greater truth will:
My brothers and sisters, the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor.
It is "the first great truth of all eternity." God loves us. It is so obvious when you consider His plan for each of us. He wants us to choose to come back to Him because that agency will shape us into who we need to become so that we can be worthy of all the responsibilities and joy that He experiences in His perfect state! In order to become as He is, we must choose to be like Him, but He also offers a Savior for when we do not always make the right choice. We can correct our course again and again so that we may eventually shape ourselves into who He is without lasting consequences for our foolish errors.

One of these foolish errors I hadn't yet considered was mentioned by my hairstylist. He brought up the concept of speculation. How often do we speculate others' intentions? How often do we speculate that someone must have meant to hurt us? How often do we speculate that we're not good enough? How often do we run away in fear, anger, and hurt because we speculate that someone has rejected us? This can be speculation in families, among spouses, friends, as well as coworkers and employers. "Whitney," my hairdresser said, "These speculations are lies. We make them up!

Guys. This is another great truth: our fears are MADE UP!

And yet! The pain we feel from these made up fears and speculations are very real. We feel rejected when we think someone must not like us. We feel offended when we think someone must have meant to hurt us. We feel spiteful when we think someone must want to do us harm. We feel crushed when we think someone thinks nothing of us.

These feelings are REAL! And because they are real, Christ suffered for them! Christ atoned for all our pains and sorrows.

Are you getting this?

Christ suffered for something we MADE UP in our heads!

That thought brought me to tears. It is an icy realization. How often have I caused the Lord, our perfect, merciful Lord, unnecessary pain? I am a very sensitive person; this can be a good thing, but I have often seen it manifest in ugly ways as being easily offended. How often have I avoided communicating with someone out of feelings of anger, frustration, or awkwardness and just assumed the worst? Too often. Too often for my perfect Brother to suffer.

Now, if I dwell upon this thought too long, it can be a heavy weight. I don't want this idea to burden you. That is how Satan gets you down. Elder Holland remarked on this:
Only the adversary, the enemy of us all, would try to convince us that the ideals outlined in general conference are depressing and unrealistic, that people don’t really improve, that no one really progresses. And why does Lucifer give that speech? Because he knows he can’t improve, he can’t progress, that worlds without end he will never have a bright tomorrow. He is a miserable man bound by eternal limitations, and he wants you to be miserable too. Well, don’t fall for that. With the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength of heaven to help us, we can improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed.
If we dwell too much on our sins, we are in turn speculating that even though Heavenly Father is merciful and forgiving, He will not forgive us for that sin, or He cannot accept us with that past problem. Again, that is a MADE UP FEAR! Instead, we should use these realizations of our mistakes to motivate ourselves! The Lord is merciful and forgiving! He blesses us for trying! “Please remember tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the Lord blesses those who want to improve, who accept the need for commandments and try to keep them, who cherish Christlike virtues and strive to the best of their ability to acquire them. If you stumble in that pursuit, so does everyone; the Savior is there to help you keep going” (Jeffrey R. Holland).

While I feel a heavy sorrow for these transgressions of mine, I am simultaneously in awe of the fact that Heavenly Father, who has a perfectly eternal perspective, does not speculate. He knows. And so, when He sees us speculating, when He sees His son suffer for our made up problems, He continues to love us. He continues to love us with a perfect, all consuming love. With this kind of love.

He continues to provide every means necessary to make us whole again. Do not dwell on feelings of unworthiness--God, who knows everything about you--deems you worthy of His salvation. As Elder Holland says,
Now, with that majestic devotion ringing from heaven as the great constant in our lives, manifested most purely and perfectly in the life, death, and Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can escape the consequences of both sin and stupidity—our own or that of others—in whatever form they may come to us in the course of daily living. If we give our heart to God, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ, if we do the best we can to live the gospel, then tomorrow—and every other day—is ultimately going to be magnificent... He wants to bless us. A rewarding, abundant, and eternal life is the very object of His merciful plan for His children! It is a plan predicated on the truth 'that all things work together for good to them that love God.' So keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.
If there is any person or area in your life filled with speculation, I plead with you to communicate with love. Forgive your spouse. Love your friend. Trust your coworker. And in all of this, ask the Lord for patience and understanding. Even if we don't know all things now, we have an all-knowing Heavenly Father who can impart peace to us instead of fear, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Do not be discouraged. As Elder Holland attested, “May He bless us to strive with patience and persistence toward the ideals we have heard proclaimed this conference weekend, knowing that His divine love and unfailing help will be with us even when we struggle—no, will be with us especially when we struggle.”

My sweetest experiences of mortality have all occurred as I have brushed against the full weight of God's love for me. He loves me perfectly. He loves you perfectly. Infinitely. Not because of our talents, our passions, or our choices, but because we are His. And He cannot wait to hold us in His arms again.