Saturday, April 12, 2008

By small and simple means...

I've been guilty many times of "running faster than I have strength". Even though I still am guilty of this from time to time, I began to learn this lesson line upon line on my mission. Below are some of my thoughts I wrote down on the topic and quotes I found related to the subject...

May 21, 2005
How do you maintain faithful? When disbelief creeps in, when things don't go exactly perfect or when you see the task at hand will require even more patience or hard work? What do you do? Sometimes it's so easy to give up and settle for mediocracy. How do you avoid that? How do you keep that desire burning? Also, how do you not wear yourself out initially because your hopes are so great, you get to work, hard work, and then you begin to burn out? How do you avoid that?

May 28, 2005
I do think I've been running a little faster than I have strength. I've been super tired this week. On top of walking the streets practically everyday this week, I've also been getting up early to exercise longer and I've been eating healthier and less snacks, more veggies. So between all this, my body is worn out.
How do I expect to maintain such a pace? Basically I'm trying to cram everything in what should've been spread out over a long period of time. My trying to work hard to see quick results is basically a lack of patience. God's pace is one of nature. Things take time and by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. Basically me trying to do everything and more to see my desired results is more a demonstration of my trust in my own knowledge and lack of patience. Instead I should make permanent changes- those that through diligence, I can maintain. With patience I wait to reap the effects of my diligence. My faith in God should include patience and diligence. Not a burst of energy and short lived efforts. Moderation in all things, right?

May 31, 2005
I got to thinking about something I'd read in church news. "What we need are not short frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the steady and tranquil dedication of a lifetime". This set my thoughts off. By small and simple means.
I've been waiting this past few weeks for the sun tan line from my watchband to show up. You'd think with the sun and time spent in the streets that it'd be pretty prominent by now, but it's not. It's been a very gradual process. There hasn't been one significant day when I could come home and say, "Okay, after today I've finally got the tan". It's been a little everyday, so little I can't tell the progress.
I began thinking about how all the good things in life or those things which are more lasting take time, patience and diligence...suntanning, getting in shape, maintaining a clean house, growing a plant, spirituality, learning, musical talents, long distance running, and forgiveness.
This list could go on, but all these things require steady effort, not just a once and a while burst of energy or action. Our commitment and desire is shown in consistency.
It's been the little things I've tried to do throughout my mission consistently- like street contacts- that help me feel confident about my efforts here and the things I've learned and gained.

June 1, 2005
Hermana Lindsay asked (Lola) how her blood pressure was and she said it was doing better and made some comment how levels of stress affect it. I asked her how she copes with stress. Her comment was so simple yet it taught me something so profound. She said, "Siguo adelante haciendo las cosas con tranquilidad" (I keep moving forward calmly doing things). I like that. We have to keep moving forward because if we become idle, that invites the stress of tasks unfinished, but on the other end of the spectrum, it's also possible to run faster than we have strength. We can stress ourselves out with too fast of a pace. Lola went on to say, "life is like driving on a freeway. We can go fast or at a more moderate pace. Either way we will arrive, but one with less stress and more security." I made my own comment to that. "The one with the more moderate pace will also arrive with more gas left at the end of his journey."

It's not the one big suntanning session which brings the lasting summer tan.
The one time extra low-fat salad and hard once in a while work-out that brings good health.
The deep spring cleaning that brings the reputation of a clean house.
The drenching a seed with water once in a while that brings growth.
The emotionally born testimony once a year that brings the assurance of spirituality.
The crammed late night studying that qualifies one as an expert in a certain subject or brings sufficient preparation for a test.
The one time grand effort spent learning and practicing a song that brings musical talent.
The sprint at the beginning of a long race that brings the victory.
The one time pleading that brings forgiveness.
It is steady, consistant dedication to principle that brings preparation. Repetitive habits will form who we are and what we have done. It is through the small, repetitive things that we see and show our commitments and dedication. - Me

Adopt the pace of Nature: her secret is patience. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

My soul, sit thou a patient looker-on; judge not the play before the play is done, her plot has many changes, everyday speaks a new scene, the last act crowns the play. -William Shakespeare

What we need are not short frenzied outbursts of emotion but the steady and tranquil dedication of a lifetime. -Adlai E. Stevenson

Sometimes excessive effort that lacks prudence and patience drives us to mistakes.
-DC manual, pg 21

I always wanted to do something great, but I have found that greatness is achieved in little pushes and shoves. -Helen Keller

When I think of pioneers, tragic scenes come to mind: handcarts in blizzards, sickness, frozen feet, empty stomachs and shallow graves.
However, as I learn more about that monumental trek I am convinced that along with those very real and dramatic scenes, most of the journey for most of the people was pretty routine. Mostly they walked and walked and walked...So what does all this have to do with us in our current world? I believe it has everything to do with us. Most of our lives are not a string of dramatic moments that call for immediate heroism and courage. Most of our lives rather, consist of daily routines, even monotonous tasks, that wear us down and leave us vulnerable to discouragement. sure we know where we're going, and if it were possible we would choose to jump out of bed, work like crazy, and be there by nightfall. But our goal, our journey's end, our Zion is life in the presence of our Heavenly Father. And to get there we are expected to walk and walk and walk. This week-after-week walking forward is no small accomplishment. The pioneer steadiness, the plain, old hard work of it all, their willingness to move inch by inch, step by step toward the promise land inspire me as much as their more obvious acts of courage. It is so difficult to keep believing that we are making progress when we are moving at such a pace- to keep believing in the future when the mileage of the day is so minuscule...President Howard W. Hunter said, "True greatness...always requires regular consistent, small, and sometimes ordinary and mundane steps over a long period of time." How easy it is to want quick and dramatic results in exchange for a day's labor! And yet how happy people are who have learned to bend with the rhythm of paced and steady progress- even to celebrate and delight in the ordinariness of life. Don't be discouraged.
- Virginia H. Pearce (Keep Walking & Give Time A Chance, General Conference 4/97)

The people of the city of Enoch are remembered by us as good- so incredibly good- that the whole city was taken up into heaven. But if we read carefully, we see that the city of Zion was taken up into heaven "in process of time" (Moses 7:21). Just like the pioneers, just like you and me, it must have been a process of walking forward, step by step, over a long period of time.
The indra swallowtail butterfly is one of nature's most spectacular specimins. Laboratory scientists have carefully chronicled its life cycle. An egg is laid at just the right spot on the food plant. Within five days it hatches and grows into a black caterpillar with yellow-orange dots. When mature, the caterpillar creates its own chrysalis. Most emerge after two years. But some, and this is an interesting observation- have been known to remain in the chrysalis for up to seven years. Then, unexpectedly, within a few short hours the once-spotted caterpillar emerges as a gorgeous black butterfly and take flight. Did this caterpillar become a butterfly in a few short hours or in seven years?...Those who understand their own personal growth patiently continue to pray, do their daily work, and give time a chance.
The vernacular for this is "Just hang in there!"
-Virginia H. Pearce, Ensign 5/97

Alma 32:41
DC 10:4
Mosiah 4:27
DC 93:20
Alma 37:6
DC 123:15-17
DC 64:33-34

Submission

In the Book of Mormon in Alma 10:6 Amulek says something that's always intrigued me. He says, "I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know". How many times have I found those words to ring true for me. There have been times where I've wanted things to be or work out a certain way. My will becomes so strong that I seek to "become a law unto (my)self" (DC 88:35). This isn't a struggle that only Amulek and I have faced. Others have felt this inward struggle of will too.
Korihor acknowledged it when he finally admitted "I always knew"yet he chose another path against what he "knew"because it was "pleasing unto the carnal mind" (Alma 30:52-53). Christ spoke in parables because there were others who knew, yet they would not know. He referred to them when he said, "hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive" (Matt. 13:14). Laman and Lemuel were also unwilling to "know"what they "knew". They had seen angels, they had heard the voice of the Lord and they had had the still, small voice speak to them, yet they were "past feeling" and their hardended hearts that refused to understand "could not feel his words"(1 Nephi 17:45). Finally James spoke of another multitude that knew yet would not know when he said "the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2:19). Obviously "knowledge" doesn't always motivate us to works.
Sometimes we allow ourselves to become spiritually blind. In such a state of spiritual blindness we begin to only see those things which are "pleasing to the carnal mind". It would be naive to consider the promises made to Lehi that ïnasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper"(1 Nephi 2:20) as merely a promise of economic prosperity. Yet when we are carnally minded and mind the things of the flesh, we develop tunnel vision which limits our eternal vision. Similarly, it would be foolish to consider our temple covenants as offering only physical blessings, tithing as only opening the windows of heaven in a financial sense, missionary service as only benefiting a family monetarily, the priesthood as only offering physical security, protection and healing, love as only occurring with someone that meets the physical criteria of a list, and Christ as a miracle worker only to those with physical ailments.
So what is the solution to all this spiritual blindness? He who healed the blind of his day, also has the power to heal the spiritually blind. We must have faith in him. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). Sometimes the way our hearts want to understand and perceive things is after the manner that is "pleasing to the carnal mind". Sometimes our hearts must be broken before they can feel. But heartache alone is not sufficient. It must be the right type of breaking and sorrow.
When we begin a fast, we long for food. Even so, our natural man's response to any pain is to initially question it, to wonder why me, and long for the time when we had what we wanted and could persist in our own way. In fasting, we must reach a mindset where our physical hunger ceases to be a preoccupation and our hearts are stilled, we are inwardly quieted and we feel submissive. Heartache must take us to a similar place if we are to progress. Otherwise we experience what Mormon called the "sorrowing of the damned" and what Paul referred to as "the sorrow of the world" (Mormon 2:13, 2 Corinthians 7:10). "Their sorrowing was not unto repentance because of the goodness of God...they did not come unto Jesus...but they did curse God, and wish to die" (Mormon 2:13-14). It's not just a broken heart that the Lord requires because there are those that would still be unwilling to give up their own agendas despite their pain. Just as we cannot change another's heart and we can't change truth, the Savior will never force our hearts to change and can't heal us without our consent. He honors our agency. We are the only ones that have the final say as to the condition of our hearts. Ours must be a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We must "cease doing things our way and learn to do things God's way instead. In such a condition of submissiveness, the atonement can take effect and true repentance can occur. The penitent will then experience the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost which will fill them with peace of conscience and the joy of reconciliation with God" (Bruce D. Porter, A Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit, Ensign 11/07).
I know that God is more loving and merciful with us than we sometimes envision him to be. "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (Johh 3:17). Jesus Christ is our advocate with the Father. When we recognize that we're "kicking against the pricks" and that our hearts may not be broken and contrite, we can pray for help. If we pray in sincerity to the Lord asking for His help to find a way to change, He will help us realign our will with His. This is true humility- knowing we are unworthy of such mercy yet he grants it regardless because He loves us.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friends






















Christmas 2007