Monday, August 18, 2008

Choose the Right Way

I have been thinking a lot lately about how living the Gospel is so very individual. Each of us has our own unique personality and character traits, so it makes sense that we each need to learn to live the Gospel in our own way. For some this takes longer than others. I remember hearing a cousin lament that one of her daughters seemed less spiritually inclined than her other children. But in later years this daughter learned to live and love the Gospel in her own time and way. I don't think there are many ways to go wrong in living the Gospel as long as we are willing to try. For example, I love the comment by Shari Dew in her book God Wants a Powerful People:

"I remember a time in my twenties when I was desperate for guidance on a crucial decision. I had fasted and prayed and been to the temple many times, but the answer wasn’t clear. In frustration, I told a friend that I just couldn’t get an answer. His simple response took me by surprise: 'Have you asked the Lord to teach you how He communicates with you?' I hadn’t, but I began that day to pray that He would."

Here Sister Dew showed willingness to continue to try, even though her situation was difficult. As we grow and learn in life we just need to keep trying and applying those things that we learn. The same thing is true with prayer, fasting, and studying the scriptures. Over the years I have found that different strategies for living the commandments work for me in different times of my life. What worked for me as a young woman did not work for me as a young mother. The same will be true for later stages of my life, I am guessing. But I am willing to recognize that and accept that the Lord is understanding of it as well. Once when I was sick on my mission I was feeling guilty for not being out proselyting and my companion said, "The Lord is not up in heaven disappointed in you because you are not out working. He knows you are sick. He knows you don't feel well. He loves you and wants you to do what it takes to get better so you can get back to work." Sometimes I still have to remember that.

I also recently read a great blog entry that goes along with this train of thought. It was posted on
By Common Consent--and I was touched by this part of the author's experience:

When did praying become so hard? The list of things to be grateful for and people worth blessing is so long, I become overwhelmed. And anyway, a prayer is not a list. It’s supposed to be a conversation. But there seem to be so many rules for this conversation, I don’t know how to have it. Plus, there’s that part about me seeming to be the only one talking. That’s a problem for me, especially since I’m not gifted in that way. On a good day I can hold up my end of a conversation, but even on a good day I can’t get a response from a tree or a block of concrete, and I can’t get a response from God, either. I don’t blame God. God is blameless by definition, so obviously if He’s not talking back, I must be praying up the wrong Tree, as it were. I must be asking for things I shouldn’t ask for. I must believe that He’s not really there. I must not want to hear what He has to say.

"If only it were as simple as just thinking my own thoughts. And that’s when it hit me. It is that simple. I’ve always known that I’m not a burning-in-the-bosom type of gal. I used to joke about my flame-retardant bosom. The only reason I don’t say that anymore is that I’ve stopped thinking that this is necessarily a shortcoming. I realize that the Holy Ghost speaks more to my mind than my heart. I suppose, though, that I’ve never realized that I can talk to God without necessarily organizing my thoughts into neat prayerbites. I’ve been taught to pour out my heart to God, but nobody told me I could do a brain dump on Him. If I don’t format my prayer properly, will God still know I’m talking to Him? I’m sure He must. Will He acknowledge me? Maybe he has been all along."

When she realized prayer for her was most comfortable as a "brain dump" than as an organized thought process, then she found something that worked for her. I guess what I am trying to say in this blog entry is that we each need to keep trying. If something doesn't work for you or your family, keep trying. Keep experimenting. And enjoy the variety you experience along the way. Eventually you will find what works for you.

Scripture of the Day: 1 Samuel 12:24

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