Sunday, October 12, 2008

Church Talk

I am attending a tri-stake singles branch here in Sanpete. There are about 30 of us, most under the age of 21. Today I was asked to give a talk on 'what the gospel means in my life'. It was actually one of the harder topics I've ever been assigned (and I've had to do mothers & fathers days, and two Easter Sunday talks AND a law of chastity talk in another singles ward. . . ) not because I had to study up on it, but because it was so personal and emotional. I'll admit I cried, frequently, because I feel these things deeply and sharing them is sometimes difficult. but I want to share it with you all- whoever hasn't given up on my blogging entirely (I know I've been REALLY bad at it, I promise I'll do more. . .). Take it as you will. xoxo
What the Gospel Means in My Life
• Covenants: When asked ‘what matters most’ a few summers ago, I determined that while my family, the church, friends, nature and many other things matter a great deal to me, the things that matters most and in fact gives meaning to all the things I love, are my covenants made in holy temples with my Father in Heaven. What a miraculous thing to have the binding power of the priesthood here on the earth so that I can make everlasting promises to my Father and in turn he makes promises back to me. Without these covenants all that matters would be lost, I would not have the assurance of being with my family forever, I would not have the assurance that the gospel plan with continue for me forever, I would not have the knowledge that my friends and loved ones may be a part of my life eternally, and I would not have the precious assurance that my life will continue on and on without end. However, these covenants can remain empty if not filled with the fruits of the gospel, so here are some of the fruits I have experienced in my life through experimenting on the word.
• I Need Not Fear: 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”. The Gospel gives me an everlasting peace and assurance that no matter what happens in my life, it will be ok. There will never be anything so big or so difficult or so devastating that I cannot deal with it and overcome it through reliance on the Savior’s redeeming love and sacrifice. This sense of assurance and peace is earned through our obedience to the Lord’s commandments and counsel received in the scriptures, through modern prophets and by the spirit to our hearts. Failure to obey results in a failure to access the divine peace and security Christ offers. The righteous need not fear is a profoundly comforting phrase. This peace gives me comfort as I face difficult decisions in my life, heavy burdens that come through living and loving, and in times of physical danger and distress.
• Hope: The Gospel allows me to hope for those things that are not seen but believed in my life. I can hope in the power of the atonement when I have sinned or fallen short. I can hope for the promised blessings of family and companionship if I remain faithful. I can hope in the promise of beautiful things to come in this life and the next. I can hope even in dark and troubling times that the Savior will come and we will have peace on this earth. I can hope for the salvation of those who have strayed or not yet heard the Gospel. I can hope that I may one day return and live with God. My Patriarchical Blessing serves as a great source of hope in my life, I know that the promises given there are from a loving Father and will be fulfilled according to my faithfulness and his timetable.
• Comfort: Because Christ suffered every sin, temptation, affliction, heartache, disappointment, sorrow, sickness, and pain I know I always have a place to receive real, undiluted, lasting comfort. One of my favorite scriptures is Matthew 11:28-30 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light'. I have experienced on countless occasions my heavy heart being supported, and my sorrows being healed. Christ truly is the balm of Gilead and knows how to succor each of us in our hours of need if we turn to him.
• The Gospel gives Assurance and Solutions in troubling times: In a world filled with so many different issues, agendas, intellectual philosophical, political, and academic pursuits it is sometimes overwhelming to try and make sense of it all and determine how you can help alleviate the suffering, corruption, and many problems that fill the worlds families, communities and nations. It can be deeply frustrating and discouraging to try and solve these problems when left to the meager devices found amongst men. However, through an understanding and belief in the power of the atonement, the priesthood, and the plan of salvation, we find useful and lasting solutions to many of these issues. Those which are not immediately solved may still cause consternation and distress, but we are able to trust in the Lord and have faith that all these things shall give us experience and that it is never worth giving up the battle for good. What a powerful gift it is to have true and lasting optimism in the face of so many community and world problems. (*give example of Joyce from Kenya, or your own political involvement and decisions to not allow the negative to become your reality).
• Guidance: The Gospel provides and constant source of divine guidance in my life. Because of the miraculous gift of the Holy Ghost I am able to seek answers to my questions and guidance in my choices. I am able to make decisions in my life and gain assurance that what I am doing is right, or wrong. I am able to receive guidance on how to live and navigate troubling times as I listen and obey the counsel of prophets both ancient and living who speak to us directly in our time. I am able to gain access to the needs and wants of others as I receive promptings, no matter how small, from the Holy Ghost and strive to lift others burdens.
• The Ability to TRULY Change: This is perhaps one of the most profound aspects of the Gospel in my life. I am so very very grateful to my Father in Heaven for his unlimited patience with me as I bumble my way through this life, sometimes seeming to make every mistake and wrong decision possible. I am so grateful that his arms of mercy are continually outstretched to catch me and comfort me when I stumble, when I fall, and even when I willfully disobey. I am also so grateful that he lets me makes the decisions on when and how I change. I’m sure it must pain him greatly sometimes to watch as I drift from him, he patiently waits for me to come on my own time and in my own way. The greatest times of joy in my life have come when I am able to come to the realization that I need to change, and then gather the courage and desire to do so, and am then so lovingly allowed to through the great and lasting sacrifice of my Savior Jesus Christ. I cannot explain exactly how this process has worked in my life, but I do know that once I determine my course of action, my Heavenly Father slowly allows my heart to change, soften and turn towards him. As this takes place I am able to let go of sins and weakness and become whole through him. (*tell story of my conversion over the course of college).
• The Gospel gives me reason and compulsion to look outside myself and care more for others: while I am not perfect in this, the Gospel has provided a sense that human relationships are of the utmost importance and are worth the time, effort, pain and joy that accompany them. These relationships become more lasting and rich as I realize that we are all children of God and in our own way are doing our best to manifest the truth that is in us. Knowing that God deeply loves each of us helps ease the burden when I see my loved ones struggling or lost and helps me to never give up in trying to ease their burdens and gently lead them to the light. (the story of the Carnie on your mission)
• Who I Am: the Gospel teaches me who I am. I am a daughter of God, and I have a foreordained mission on this earth. I know that I am infinitely loved for being exactly who I am. I know that there expectations on me given out of love and confidence. I know that I always have somewhere to turn for comfort, guidance and love. I know that my existence is not limited to this earth, and that through Christ I will be able to go on in happiness and truth forever.
• JOY: 2 Nephi 2 teaches, “Adam fell that man might be, men are that they might have joy”. The culmination of these many blessing of the Gospel in my life is a resounding joy. The Gospel, its message and meaning bring a quality of joy and happiness that goes beyond any I have found in any other pursuit. This joy seems to resonate on a deep and eternal level, and fuels me to continue onward, to repent, endure, and to always serve.


laura said...

thank you so much for posting this. wish i could've been there.

sam said...

Wow. This is so amazing, Zina. I loved reading it. So many parts reasonated with me but the comfort that you spoke of really hit home. I was actually just talking to my one friend at school who's LDS last night about this. She had been dating a guy for a while. This guy had been married before and divorced because of issues that both you and I know of all too well. Anyways, my friend and this guy were getting more and more serious and he got to the point where he really wanted to marry her. She had been praying about it but continued to feel uneasy about the situation. Then she learned more of the details of my recent experiences...long story short (too late), she was at an endowment session with him and receieved a clear answer to break things off with him. So she the celestial room. (that part totally cracks me up) Anyways, she was telling me how hard that was for her because she's going to be 30 this year and all the worries that comes with getting older and being single. And I was telling her how much I've really been able to feel lately that the Lord's yoke really is easy and his burden is so light. I have been able to feel so much peace, so much comfort in the flat-out craziest, saddest, most stressful time in my life and I know that it's because Christ is lifting a huge portion of my burden, everyday, as I strive to be diligent in the things I need to be doing to access that kind of divine help. Just reading what you've written here was another source of comfort for me so thank you. You are a beautiful, strong, amazing woman.