Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Six Lessons Learned

As I continue the process of catching up (5/30, only 25 more to go!), I had the thought that blogging should be more than just a recounting of events that happen in my life. Not that it's a bad thing to remember these experiences but I think there are other things that happen that are worth reflecting on as well. So my hope is that the blog can be more of a reflection of events and experiences rather than a recounting of events. These thoughts came as a result of a series of books I have been reading. The author is LDS. I read the first one a couple of years ago and recently found out that it was a series. As I began to read the series, I quickly became bored with the seemingly similar plot lines and stories. I am an avid reader in the summer. You should see the pile of books that I have read and have yet to read. ANYWAYS! Back to my annoyance. I was annoyed because everything was the same. Every seemingly possible thing that could go wrong did, all of these terrible things happened, and then the people somehow lived happily ever after. However, after finishing the series and reflecting back I noticed that were some similar themes throughout all of them that had a meaningful impact on me. The following were the lessons learned:
  1. The importance of family
  2. God has a plan for each of us
  3. God's Timing-- Time & Place
  4. Genealogy/Record-Keeping (Temple Work/Ordinances)
  5. The Lord will ALWAYS help us if we just ask!  
  6. What we do in this life affect our lives in the future
Lesson #1: The Importance of Family I come from a large family, immediate and extended. I understand the importance of family. Some of my family members are my best friends.  Like a lot of people, I didn't fully appreciate them growing up. My mom always said that after I was done with school, I may not always have my friends but I'd always have your family. As I left for college I realized that I'd much rather be home hanging out with them! Point for Mom. Why is she usually right?The characters in the story were a very tight-knit family. Through their relationships it reaffirmed the importance of the relationships that I have with my immediate and extended family. 

Lesson #2: God Has a Plan for Each of Us I really and truly believe that God does have a plan for each of us. There are obviously many variables along the way that is the beauty of our agency and the Plan of Salvation. But I really believe that he wants what's best for us and with that, there is a plan for each of us individually! 
This scripture reflects my thought with this:
D&C 122:9-  Thy ddays are known, and thy years shall not be-numbered less; therefore, efear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.
Our days are known, there is a plan for each of us, God will be with us forever and ever. This is a comforting thought. 

Lesson #3: God's Timing-- Time & Place
This next lesson goes hand-in-hand with God having a plan for each of us. God has his own timeline. Obviously this can be very frustrating; especially for those of us who struggle with being patient. However, if we trust in Him and realize that there is a time and a place for everything, good things will come. 

Lesson #4: The Importance of Genealogy/Record-Keeping/Temple Ordinances Throughout the novel, the main characters referenced journals from their ancestors to help learn life lessons and deal with all of the things that were going on in their lives. Without those journals, these characters would have been lost and not received specific guidance that not only helped strengthen their testimonies but also helped them cope and deal with life experiences. How important that we record seemingly mundane experiences as well as powerful experiences in order to help others cope with life's daily trials and experiences. Another theme that was evident throughout the series was genealogy. Without genealogy those who have passed on would not be able to receive the ordinances necessary to return to live with our Father in Heaven. I'm thankful for Temple Ordinances that can connect families and people forever. 

Lesson #5: The Lord will ALWAYS help us, if we will just ask! This has been one of the biggest comforts that I have had since graduating from high school. There are many things that we are faced with throughout our lives (good and bad). Knowing that there is someone who will listen to my concerns, problems, happy times, is extremely comforting and encouraging. I just need to remember to communicate. 

Lesson #6: Everything that we do in this life affects our lives in the future I sometimes have this thought that after this life there is FOREVER and eternity and it hits me, everything that we do in this life is a reflection on how our lives will be in the future. I remember a time in college that I was reading for one of my classes. It was a Mission Prep class and I read something (I don't remember what) but the thought I had after reading had never occurred to me before. After this life on Earth is over we will be in the eternities FOREVER. This feeling of FOREVER was a little bit terrifying at first. I think the terror comes from realizing how EVERYTHING that we do in this life affects our lives in the worlds to come. This is a thought that has continually come back to me. Now, it obviously wouldn't be so terrifying if I would just do all those things I'm supposed to do. The problem for me is that worldliness and life in general creeps in and all of a sudden I am extremely "busy" and unable to get enough done in the day. If I could keep the "forever" aspect in mind, I think it might be easier to do the important things (read, pray, go to the temple) consistently. Gordon B. Hinckley once said, "The cause of most of man's unhappiness is sacrificing what he wants most for what he wants now." I would be wise to remember not to sacrifice what I want most of all for the "busyness" of those things that seem to be important now. The following stories is one of my favorite examples of this concept. In October 2012 General Conference Elder Robert C. Gay gave a talk entitled, "What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul?" He says,
       The Savior once asked His disciples the following question: “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”1

       This is a question that my father taught me to carefully consider years ago. As I was growing up, my parents assigned me chores around the house and paid me an allowance for that work. I often used that money, a little over 50 cents a week, to go to the movies. Back then a movie ticket cost 25 cents for an 11-year-old. This left me with 25 cents to spend on candy bars, which cost 5 cents apiece. A movie with five candy bars! It couldn’t get much better than that.

       All was well until I turned 12. Standing in line one afternoon, I realized that the ticket price for a 12-year-old was 35 cents, and that meant two less candy bars. Not quite prepared to make that sacrifice, I reasoned to myself, “You look the same as you did a week ago.” I then stepped up and asked for the 25-cent ticket. The cashier did not blink, and I bought my regular five candy bars instead of three.

       Elated by my accomplishment, I later rushed home to tell my dad about my big coup. As I poured out the details, he said nothing. When I finished, he simply looked at me and said, “Son, would you sell your soul for a nickel?” His words pierced my 12-year-old heart. It is a lesson I have never forgotten. 
The things that we do in this life affect our lives in the future. Would we sacrifice those good things in the future for something as simple as a nickel, a candy bar, or something we think we want now. He continues his story,
        Years later I found myself asking this same question to a less-active Melchizedek Priesthood holder. He was a wonderful man who loved his family. He, however, had not been to church for many years. He had a talented son who played on an elite travel sports team that practiced and played games on Sunday. That team had won multiple major championships. As we met, I reminded him that, as a priesthood holder, he was promised that if he magnified his oath and covenant, he would receive “all that [our] Father hath.”2 I then asked him, “Is a national championship worth more than all the Father has?” He gently said, “I see your point” and made an appointment to visit with his bishop.
I distinctly remember a situation similar to this in high school. My senior year, I had been invited to play in a volleyball all-star game. This was a great honor. The game, however, would be played on Sunday. My high-school self rationalized that it would be just one Sunday. I had gone to multiple tournaments and games and had never played on Sunday. What would one Sunday matter? I remember begging my mom to let me play. Just the one time. I chose to not play and didn't think much of it. Basketball rolled around, same situation. It crossed my mind, but it was easier to say no. Softball, same thing. I knew I wouldn't be playing. I left, went to college, having been grateful to never have played a game on Sunday, even though I may have wanted to. One day while in college I received this email from my mom, 
I wanted to tell you about Sacrament Meeting on Sunday.  A lady was speaking and recounted this experience with Tracy a couple of weeks ago when they went to a PAL basketball tournament.  Remember I didn't want Tracy to go because I couldn't go and there was only one other member of the church going. Well she assured me one of the chaperones would take them to Church and that it was no problem. I talked to the chaperone and all seemed well,  lots of kids going etc.  Well it ends up they only have 7 kids. So on Sunday they will only have five people playing but Tracy assures me everything will be fine but I have a funny feeling about it.

On Sunday morning at church I get a call from Tracy they are at the church but it is Stake conference and it does not start until 10:00 and it is 9:00 and they are coming to pick them up at 10:00 so I tell her to call them and tell them not to pick them up until 12:00. They got a hold of them but one of the players gets sick or something and can't play like in the first game so they play with four. But the other member of the church already said she was playing in the afternoon game. Then during the first game one of the girls on the team falls and hits her head and has to go to the hospital and they are down to three players.  So when they show back up they want them both to play.

So the lady giving the talk (who was also a chaperone on the trip) says that the adults started saying like Tracy won't play and the lady told them "It's her choice" they weren't mean or anything just maybe amazed or something. Tracy never really talked about it with me other than to say She told them she wouldn't play.
The lady continued her talk explaining that she was not judging anyone who decided to play that day but explained how impressed she was with Tracy who was all alone without her parents or anyone there to tell her what to do who stuck by her decision not to play on Sunday even though the peer pressure from the kids and even the adults was so strong.

One of the reasons that she could be so strong is that you were such a good example as an older sister on keeping the Sabbath day even when it was really hard and it didn't seem like it would be that big of a deal. Anyway you were a good example.

Love ya, Mom 
Now I don't share that story to brag or anything, but what would have happened had I traded what I wanted most then, to just play in that game, for something great in the future? I wouldn't have been an example to my younger siblings. I wouldn't have been an example for myself. Is anything better than all the Father has for us? Is there anything worth doing that is better than receiving all the Father has for us? Even though it may seem like a difficult thing to do at the time, I know that if we will keep in mind that everything we do in this life will have an impact on us in the future and not to sacrifice the things that we want in the future for the things that we think that we might now, that we will be blessed beyond measure. 

Don't sacrifice what you want most for what you want right now because NOTHING is greater or worth more than ALL the Father has!

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