Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Don't let this man control you!"

A few weeks ago, as my missionary companion and I were using the computers at a local college campus, we had a run in with a fiery fellow named Sean. He came up to Elder Krambeck and started to rant about all the 'signs of the times' and went off on various conspiracy theories. Elder Krambeck was in a pickle, so I interjected by simply asking, "What's up?" Sean looked at me with blazing eyes and said to Elder Krambeck with his voice a-booming, "Don't let this man control you!" It was quite an amusing experience.

It has got me thinking though. I for one have questioned the faith I was born into for a very long time. I saw the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and all church's for that matter, as a ploy for control and power. All those 'thou shalt nots' seemed to me a mere stratagem for someone to gain supremacy; not a way to inner peace. I looked at the church's of the earth and thought to myself, "Nu uh. You ain't gonna fool me. I won't follow blindly and be controlled." Luckily, Heavenly Father fulfilled His promise that "the haughty shall be humbled" (2 Nephi 20:33). And oh boy was I humbled!

After years of doubting and nay saying, my new found compelled humility led me to start putting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the test. I started praying and doing some of the 'thou shalts'. I learned from experience that  the Lord doesn't want to control us through obedience, but He wants to bless us for it. He promises that if we are obedient to Him that He will give us blessings in our lives. In fact, He is bound to bless us if we are obedient (Doc. & Cov. 130:20).

We don't however, have to follow thoughtlessly. We as members of His church have the principle of Intelligent Obedience. That is, we don't have to follow Him blindly or out of fear of punishment. He wants us to be obedient of our own free will. We need to gain our own witness, or belief, that the commandments really come from Him and help us live happier lives. To obtain this witness, we have to use faith. We have to have a real desire, and we have to be willing to do the work necessary to know these things.

We can know for ourselves that the commandments are there to make us free from the consequences of sin, not just imperious rules from an abstract God. We can pray and " ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true" and He will answer us and tell us. When we know that they are true, we will want to live them for the rest of our lives. The commandments will be a lighthouse as we make our way across the stormy seas of life. We will grow stronger, feel greater peace, and increase in spirituality. We will show our true love and devotion for Jesus Christ as we keep His commandments (John 14:15).

But don't take my word for it....put it to the test!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Car Rides and Good Vibes

No, I did not get along well with my parents growing up. I was a punk. Plain and simple. I "knew" better. They were out of touch. They couldn't possibly understand what I was going through. I was wrong. Yes Mom, I know you want to hear it again: I was wrong (I'll tell you in person when I see you in a year ;) This enlightened train of thought all started in the winter of 2007 with a couple three hundred miles and some alone time with my momma (yes, a couple three).

My parents love to be with their grand kids. Only problem is, they live 300 miles away from them. This led to an almost weekly excursion from the wintry warmth of St. George Utah to the frigid frost of Herriman, near Salt Lake City. Our car rides were usually a marathon of Simon and Garfunkel/Beatles albums to help pass the time. Amidst the Funk, my Mother found some way to really pry me open and get me to start talking to her for the first time in my life. I found myself talking about everything. Over time, I spilled my guts about the mistakes of my past. Huge burdens were lifted off my shoulders as I asked forgiveness for the torment I put Mom through in my earlier life.

These conversations with my Mom sparked something in me. I wanted to talk and get things off my chest. I wanted to give up all the stuff I had bottled up inside. The discussions with my mom left me wanting for something more. I still felt a little empty. That's when I finally decided to put prayer to the test. I started to get on my knees and talk to Heavenly Father, and really talk. I told Him everything (which at the time seemed ridiculous, because He knew it all already). I prayed “with all the energy of heart” (Moroni 7:48). I felt that emptiness replaced with the love of God more and more. I expressed the shame, guilt, sorrow, remorse, and heartache I felt because of my past. Prayer strengthened my faith, which led to repentance. I was finally able to feel the redeeming power of the Atonement.  Over time those very same feelings have been replaced with peace, happiness, and resolve to do better. I am forever grateful for the healing principle of prayer. To learn more about how Heavenly Father feels about prayer, click HERE.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

No, I was never a little white kid.

When I was a little kid (OK, I was never a "little kid"), when I was just a wee lad, I didn't really listen to my parents. As a consequence, I would get in trouble, a lot. In school, at home, at church, everywhere. I realized early on that if I did what my parents said, there were two possible outcomes:
  1. I could possibly get some money as allowance for being a "Good Boy"
  2. I didn't get into trouble and get "grounded"

Now I see many other reasons to listen to and apply what my parents dish out to me.
  1. They are more experienced (haha, I just called them old!) in life than I am. When it comes to enduring life's challenges and overcoming them, they have me beat.  
  2. They love me. They want what is best for me and they don't want to lead me astray. The motivation for them imparting their wisdom to me is that they want me to be the best person I can be.
  3. Very simply, they want me to be happy.
I have discovered that there are more positive consequences than just a mere monetary increase or not getting into trouble when I follow the guidance of my parental unit.  I have also come to follow their advice because I love them and want to show my love by trusting them and listening and acting on what they say. I have been blessed incredibly by heeding their counsel. What a concept!

The same is true with the Man upstairs. Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be happy. He has given us a plan that we can follow to find true happiness. He knows what we need. Through experience, I have come to learn that if I do what He says and follow His counsel, I don't get into trouble. On the other hand, when I go against what He says, I suffer the consequences of disobedience and get spiritually "grounded". Heavenly Father knows exactly what it is that we need to do to be happy. He doesn't force this on us. He invites us to test out His ways and to learn by our own experiences if His way is the way to happiness.  Over time, we will learn that He loves us and that His way is a path of joy amidst challenges. We learn to follow Him because we trust and love Him.

To learn how you can find more peace and happiness, click HERE.