Saturday, July 26, 2014

Every Day is Game Day

Something that's been on my mind is how good of a procrastinator I used to be. (Or how bad...depends on how you want to look at it.) Before my mission, I put literally everything off until the last minute. Including preparing for my mission. I used to think it was okay to not read my scriptures every day and if I forgot a prayer every now and then, I didn't feel like it was the end of the world. Honestly, it wasn't the end of the world, as I am still alive, but I really should have been doing those things to help me come closer to God. I didn't see the relevance of how every day is game day. 

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. Alma 34:32

The time to read your scriptures is NOW. The time to pray is NOW. That doesn't mean we have to be doing nothing else, but those are the things we need to be doing to understand who God and Jesus Christ are. 

In a talk called Your Four Minutes by Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, he related life to a four minute bobsled race in the Olympics. We spend endless hours preparing and then before you know it, it's over. Gone. He said, "This is your four minutes. While you are here, your actions will determine whether you win the prize of eternal life." We must run the race that we may win the prize. (1 Corinthians 9 :24) It's time to get your GAME FACE on and just do it! (Thank you Nike)

The prophet Joseph Fielding Smith said, "Procrastination, as it may be applied to gospel principles, is the thief of eternal life, which is life in the presence of the Father and the Son."

Just think about that. Procrastination is the thief of eternal life....ouch. I don't know about you, but eternal life is definitely something that I want! That statement is motivation enough for me! 

In the Book of Mormon, Amulek, who is a great missionary, said it clear as day: And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. Alma 34:33

So, we need to be keeping the commandments, going to church, reading our scriptures, praying, and everything else God expects of us while we can before it's too late. Looking back on my life, I don't understand how it flew by so quickly. Thank goodness I'm only 20 years old and I have years ahead of me to continually improve myself, but I don't want to waste another moment! President Thomas S. Monson said, "When the time for performance arrives, the time for preparation is past." 

I'm grateful for the guidance of prophets, both modern and ancient, who speak the words of God. I'm grateful that they just want us, all of God's children, to realize their true potential in life and to prepare to meet God someday. It's up to us to realize that every day is game day rather than dealing with it later. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

I am a child of God!

I am a child of God. How many times did I sing that children's song when I was younger and actually paid attention to what the song is saying? We are literally children of our Heavenly Father who loves us more than we can comprehend. He is the perfect parent who sees us for who we really are. We have divine nature and infinite worth.

It's sad how much I have to remind myself of that fact. It's so easy to get down on myself, especially in a world that wants me to think so low of myself. I recently read a blog post from one of my best friends. She wrote about how we need to stop comparing our lives to the lives of others and just love ourselves for who we are. It's a great post- click here to read it. It made me think about my own life. I had a little self evaluation of what I do to try to impress others and what I haven't been doing because I'm afraid of being judged or made fun of. 

I came to the realization that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks. The only people I should be trying so hard to impress every day are my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And they already love me more than I’ll ever understand! My mission president said something to us in a conference for all the sister missionaries in northern Virginia that touched my heart. "Please realize that He loves you. He loves you right now. He will love you- always." 

Okay, so if God loves me unconditionally no matter what I do, and if He's the only one whose thoughts I need to really care about, then why do I judge myself so harshly? I think that's one of the joys of being a woman. Generally speaking, women tend to be perfectionists. At least, I know I do. I didn't think I was a perfectionist until I came out on a mission and was shown all of my weaknesses. 

In the Book of Mormon, it reads, "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)

As a missionary I've spent a lot of time studying the scriptures and trying my best to come unto Christ. So because I'm coming unto Him, naturally he's going to show me my weaknesses that I need to work on. Yeah, thanks. Having quite a few of my weaknesses shown to me is a bit overwhelming at times. Especially since one of those weaknesses is perfectionism. I just want those weaknesses to be turned to strengths all at once! Right now! (Not to mention I'm working on patience too...) 

However, I am always gently reminded that if all my weaknesses were turned to strengths right now in this moment, then I wouldn’t be humble!! And I wouldn’t be as able to see Christ’s grace working in my life. I don’t know about you, but I seem to pray a lot more when I’m struggling with something compared to those times in my life that are going great and everything is all butterflies and rainbows. After I make it through my trials and overcome my weaknesses, I look back on my life full of gratitude every time. I’ve learned that Christ’s grace is sufficient for each and every one of us, and I’m always going to be learning how to apply it more in my life.

In overcoming my weakness of perfectionism, I’m learning how to love who I am the way I am- while still doing what I can to constantly improve. I know that I won’t be as smart, as thin, as witty, as creative, as others out there, but hey. There are always going to be people better than you! And that’s okay! When we see the good qualities of others, we can let it either discourage or inspire us! I hope you choose to be inspired. So long as you are constantly improving yourself, you can find satisfaction. “No matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow your progress, you’re still way ahead of everyone else who isn’t trying.” (I can’t remember who said that…)

What really helps is remembering that you are a child of God who loves you. “He does not give you challenges that you cannot surmount. He will not ask more than you can do, he may ask right up to your limits so you can prove yourselves. The Lord will never forsake you.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin 1989 Ensign)

My missionary companion, Sister Lamborn, shared this quote with me that she heard someone say at church, “Don’t compare your behind the scenes with others’ highlight reels.” Just remember that no one’s perfect. The only One who is already suffered and died to help you overcome your weaknesses. I read a talk called, “Becoming Perfect in Christ” from the July 2014 Ensign that really helped me. It changed my perspective a lot. Click here to read.

Our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, said to the women of our church, “My dear sisters, your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes.

In my last area my companion, Sister Udall, showed me a passage from the book, You Are Special, that her mom included in one of her letters. It's about toys that were made by the toy maker, Eli. Every time the toys had a positive thought toward another toy, a star shaped sticker would stick to that toy, while every time they thought negatively, a dot would stick. (At least that's how it was explained to me...haha. I've never actually read the book before. I really want to though!)

There's one toy named Punchinello who had lots of stickers on him. He went to Eli for help.

"Everyday I've been hoping you'd come," Eli explained.
"I came because I met someone who had no marks," said Punchinello.
"I know. She told me about you."
"Why don't the stickers stay on her?"
The maker spoke softly, "Because she has decided that what I think is more important than what they think. The stickers only stick if you let them."
"The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers."
"I'm not sure I understand."
Eli smiled. "You will, but it will take time. You've got a lot of marks. For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care."
Eli lifted Punchinello off the bench and set him on the ground.
"Remember," Eli said as the Wemmick walked out the door, "you are special because I made you. And I don't make mistakes."
Punchinello didn't stop, but in his heart he thought, I think he really means it. And when he did, a dot fell to the ground.

God loves us. If you EVER doubt it, take it up with Him. Seriously. The next time you are mean to yourself or start comparing yourself to others, find a quiet spot away from distractions and simply ask God if He cares. As Him if He loves you. You may be thinking, “Well, I already know God loves me so why would I need to ask Him again?” Because it’s far easier and spiritually healthier to maintain that knowledge of His love than it is to forget and have to retain it.

Strive to always remember the words of one of my favorite childhood songs, I am a child of God. And never forget it. :)