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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Faith is a Decision

Well, as is often the case, I was given a suggestion for spiritual nourishment this week that gave me a lot of food for thought. Dale Sturm gave a talk on BYU-Idaho's campus this last January entitled, "Faith is a Decision." His main point: "Sometimes you have to get moving before you will feel the Holy Ghost's confirming influence.... Faith is a decision, an action, before it is a feeling."

I've realized today that it's time to commit myself wholly to a higher purpose. As someone in church said today, a committed heart searches for a solution. An uncommitted heart searches for an escape.

I've been contemplating this concept a lot this week. I have to drop a class because I simply do not (and will not) have the time needed to keep up with the course load and get anything out of it. However, I realize that I'm putting other things (like my job) above this class. If I really wanted to turn around my performance, I could do it. However, my heart is not committed to Western American lit. right now, and instead, I am seeking for a solution to my job with Studio C. It's been a rather disheartening week because I've struggled in knowing where my commitments lie, but I've made my decision.

Similarly, I've been feeling rather dead inside in terms of spiritual decisions because I've been looking for an escape. I've realized that asking "What lack I?" or "What do I need to improve?" "can be a glorious opportunity... But make no mistake, it won't necessarily be easy or pleasant or convenient" (Sturm). But today, I've realized that it's time to quit stalling and to work on the individual traits that can help me be more Christ-like. The thing is, I've come to this decision many times before, but doing it in my everyday life is arduous and it's hard to remember how to act like Christ when it really matters. Dale Sturm quotes C.S. Lewis in his talk and says, "The cross comes before the crown, and tomorrow is a Monday morning." He explains the quote by saying, "What we have to get through is nothing more dramatic than Monday morning. What we have to get through is the mundane, the common, the relentlessly routine, to get to the blessings. Sometimes the trial is actually in the insistent ordinariness of the day-to-day."

I've realized that it is easy for me to come closer to Christ in times of trial and big decisions, but my biggest struggle is to seek Him out in the day-to-day, and I've come to understand that I need to seek Him out, otherwise I start feeling a numbness over time that is a result of living too easily, and letting my circumstances toss me to and fro until I'm dissatisfied with everything because I've stopped pursuing anything.

I feel like I've been going in circles with these posts, but I think it's because the Lord won't let me move on until I start acting like a disciple. So here is where I map out my game plan.

1. I need to become more acquainted with what Heavenly Father specifically wants me to improve on right now. This can be done in reading the scriptures more thoroughly, conversing with Heavenly Father in prayer, and reading my patriarchal blessing. I know that as we become more acquainted with our patriarchal blessings, we'll become more acquainted with who we can be. God does not motivate us through discouragement, but, rather, through seeing our potential, recognizing the possibility of its realization, and understanding the steps to get there.
I've started getting the feeling (and it just strengthens every time I ponder about it) that I need to work on my relationship with others. I need to focus on uplifting those around me and helping them feel the way Christ feels about them. It is so very important to exhibit charity toward our brothers and sisters, but breaking that down, it is important to see everyone as immortal beings with endless potential. This is when progress is made in the building up of God's kingdom. We get nowhere by limiting others' capacity and positive influence.

2. I need to use my gifts. Dale Sturm references the scripture passage where the rich man asks Jesus "What lack I yet?" And recounts how Christ gave this man a personal diagnosis of what could help him overcome himself to be perfect. Sturm then goes on to say, "Bound up in that invitation for God to give us a personal diagnosis is both the painful revelation of our lack, and the very gifts of God that will allow us to overcome it." God has given us weaknesses and strengths, and we can use our strengths to overcome our weaknesses! What a wonderful realization!

Marvin J. Ashton gave a wonderful talk in which he listed gifts that we may not consider:
Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.
There are gifts in this list that seem so far from me, but there are also gifts in here that I feel make up who I am, innately. These innate gifts are not instilled in me by accident. I may as well use them to continue perfecting myself.

3. I need to find peace. I've been reading over my own patriarchal blessing and I'm surprised at how often it mentions my happiness and peace with life. You can tell it's been a while since I've read over my blessing (at least with a searching heart) because I'd realized that this was not where I was. I've been overwhelmed and dissatisfied with many things in my life. The words of Jeffrey R. Holland rang true to me this week when he said, "The Lord has probably spoken enough such 'comforting words' to supply the whole universe, it would seem, and yet we see all around us unhappy Latter-day Saints, worried Latter-day Saints, and gloomy Latter-day Saints into whose troubled hearts not one of these innumerable consoling words seems to be allowed to enter. In fact, I think some of us must have that remnant of Puritan heritage still with us that says it is somehow wrong to be comforted or helped, that we are supposed to be miserable about something."

This is where I started to feel the fire of motivation in myself. I know we often hear the prescription: Be happy. And it can be so easy for me to raise my hackles when someone throws that phrase around flippantly. There are many people who struggle with depression or even the drowning sensation of mortal challenges, and happiness is not something so simply obtained that one can just be happy. However, there is rest and peace and joy found in our Savior, Jesus Christ. There is hope and mercy and happiness. I know that this life is a time to celebrate. I have so much to be grateful for. I should step back and recognize all that is going well for me and all that my Heavenly Father has given me so that I may consecrate my life and give back to Him.

Anywho, this post may seem very stale or like a repetition of posts before it, but the thing is, getting out of physical/emotional/spiritual ruts often requires the simple and repetitive actions we know so well: praying, studying scriptures, attending the temple, and letting our higher aspirations govern our immediate actions. I'm hoping that I can continue fueling this fire and that eventually I will see more of who God wants me to be in myself. For now, I know I have the right desires and I know I'm making the right decisions. Hopefully this cycle of deciding-->acting-->feeling will continue to snowball this flame inside my heart that lets me feel God's presence and continue to come closer to Him.

I hope all of you are having a wonderful weekend and wish you an active week. Love to you all,
Whit

1 comment:

Noah said...

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1997/04/keep-walking-and-give-time-a-chance?lang=eng

http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,538-1-2988-1,00.html (See "Learn to Love Work" section)

http://followyourblister.blogspot.com/2010/10/follow-your-blister.html

Just a word of advice - "Passions" can never take the place of parenthood, no matter how hard we may try.

Maybe the key is learning to be passionate about what is already in front of us and what the Lord has in store for us.