Scripture of the Month

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Choose Faith

 Recently I read some blogs and comments by active, inactive, and former members of the Church. The posts were negative and critical and planted seeds of doubt in my mind about things I have never questioned before. I felt like I had let in poison and feared the effects it was having on me. The following Sunday, my husband and I read in the November 2010 General Conference issue of the Ensign the talk "Faith--the Choice is Yours" by Bishop Richard C. Edgley. This was no coincidence.

The talk addressed exactly what I was feeling. In these troubled times, there are many attacks on the Church, from within and without. They are not in our control, but our reaction is. Bishop Edgley counsels, "When our sacred doctrine and beliefs are challenged, this is our opportunity to become acquainted with God in a most private and intimate manner. This is our opportunity to choose. . . . So I say, choose faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and unseen, and choose faith over pessimism." He emphasizes that choosing faith is an action, requiring effort and responsibility. And when we develop our faith, it becomes a "peace and protection" to us when we do not have answers. He continues, "There is much that I do no know. . . . But while I don't know everything, I know the important. I know the plain and simple gospel truths that lead to salvation and exaltation. . . . And what I don't know or don't completely understand, with the powerful aid of my faith, I bridge the gap and move on, partaking of the promises and blessings of the gospel" [emphasis added].

His statement reflects what I have often stressed on this blog--to focus on the basics. When we dwell upon that which gives us doubt, it does exactly that. Instead, we should be patient in pursuing knowledge and accept that not all of it will be given or understood in this life. This does not mean we should be blindly obedient. Even when Jesus Himself taught the Nephites He told them to ponder upon, pray about, and prepare for His teachings (3 Nephi 17:2-3). We too must seek out knowledge from His words and pray for a testimony and understanding of them. Then we will have the strength to cast off conflicting messages.

President Joseph Fielding Smith said, quoted in the Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, "If we will put [the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants] into practice, if we will keep the commandments of the Lord, we will know the truth and there shall be no weapon formed against us that shall prosper [see D&C 71:9-11]. There shall be no false doctrines, no teaching of men that will deceive us. There are many cults and many false faiths, there are many strange ideas in the world, but if we will search these revelations then we will be fortified against errors and we will be made strong" (2).

Conversely, when we turn away from divine sources, we put ourselves in danger. President George Q. Cannon warned, "God has chosen His servants. He claims it as His prerogative to condemn them, if they need condemnation. He has not given it to us individually to censure and condemn them. No man, however strong he may be in the faith, however high in the Priesthood, can speak evil of the Lord's anointed and find fault with God's authority on the earth without incurring His displeasure. The Holy Spirit will withdraw itself from such a man, and he will go into darkness. This being the case, do you not see how important it is that we should be careful? However difficult it may be for us to understand the reason for any action of the authorities of the Church, we should not too hastily call their acts in question and pronounce them wrong" (4).

I found these quotes during my scripture study this morning. I feel it was the Lord's reminder to me to remember my testimony of the gospel, especially of the essentials, and to choose faith. My decision to choose faith has brought me the peace and protection Bishop Edgley promised.

Challenge: When you have doubts or unanswered questions, choose faith.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Charly

The LDS culture certainly has ideas about a typical Relief Society woman. She can sew, quilt, cook, bake, garden, can, craft, decorate, sing or play an instrument, keep house, and raise a perfect family. The LDS comedy The RM makes fun of Relief Society and its more ridiculous traditions, such as elaborate centerpieces, cute handouts, and an overflow of interesting dinners for new moms.

Charly (the book), on the other hand, makes fun of this ideal in another light. Charly, a convert who does not fit this Mormon woman description at all, admits she plays a tape recording of the vacuum when a fellow Relief Society sister calls so that the sister thinks she's cleaning her house. However, she is a Relief Society sister in the true sense: she provides relief to those in need. She befriends the Native American sisters in her ward and strengthens them spiritually.

When I sometimes feel inadequate because I cannot sew or craft or can my own peaches, I remember Charly and the lesson that what makes a good wife, mother, and friend is not her homemaking skills but her spiritual gifts. Being a righteous woman is far more important and necessary than being an artistic one. We women ought to measure our success by our spirituality and measure our worth by Heavenly Father's love. We need to fulfill the purpose of Relief Society, as stated in the declaration. Of course, we are supposed to use our talents and learn new skills, but these do not define who we are. We are daughters of God with divine worth, qualities, and potential, and remembering and acting upon that knowledge is what qualifies us for the blessings of heaven.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Darkness Begets Dishonesty

photo by Ricardo Chahad

The symbolism and powers of light and darkness are no coincidences. A 2010 study found that people were more likely to be dishonest in dim lighting or when wearing sunglasses than in bright lighting or when wearing clear glasses. I believe it is more than just a result of feeling unwatched or hidden. Darkness is not only the absence of physical light, but also the absence of spiritual light. Darkness is the devil's domain, his prime time for work, which is why we associate all things evil with the dark: sinful places are barely lit; terrible crimes happen at night; criminals usually dress in dark, concealing clothing. I think that is why we are often more shocked and offended when something wicked occurs in "broad daylight."

The findings of this study should prompt us to evaluate our own behavior in darkness and to eliminate it if it affects us. If we find that we are just as likely to commit the sin in light, then we need to take even more careful measures to guard ourselves against it. Either way, we should surround ourselves with as much light--both physical and spiritual--as possible.

Challenge: Stay away from dark places and activities. When feeling tempted, turn on the light--both kinds!