29 March 2014

Come Listen to a Prophet's Voice

Twice a year I and countless others (pretty much everyone in the world) have the opportunity to come together and listen to inspiring and comforting words. Where exactly do we hear these inspiring words? I'm glad you asked. It's called General Conference. Twice a year the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a conference that is broadcasted all over the world. The conference consists of four sessions, two on Saturday and two on Sunday, where Apostles of the Lord and other leaders in the church share inspiring messages and insights. They pray long and hard to know what to speak about for this conference and prepare to share their message with all of the world. It's this wonderful opportunity we've been given to listen to people who have been inspired by God (which is a really amazing thing).
Often times when listening to these talks I think "hey, that was totally for me" or "wow, I really needed to hear that." The beauty of General Conference is that it can apply to anyone. Male or female, young or old, member or non-member. Everyone can be inspired by listening to the words spoken at conference. And really, who doesn't like to listen to inspiring words that create good feelings?
I know that God has restored His gospel again on this Earth today and that He calls prophets in our day and age to help guide us. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet who receives revelation from God and I'm grateful for the opportunity that I have to hear him and other Apostles and authorities speak this coming weekend.
So yeah, get ready to be inspired and uplifted by General Conference. Come listen to a prophet's voice. Come and see just how powerful and wonderful God's love is for each and every one of us.
"Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church." Dieter F. Uchtdorf


22 March 2014

Happiness is Now

I have this problem. I like to daydream and constantly imagine what the future is going to be like. Like when I'm running, I like to think about how awesome I'm going to feel after and how much more awesome that chocolate cake is going to taste (so maybe not the best thing to be thinking of). For me, looking to the future is a great source of inspiration. But as I've been going through the past few weeks I've also noticed that it's become a hindrance as well.
I find myself sometimes thinking "I'll be happy when this happens" or "I'll be happy when that happens." I keep waiting and waiting to be happy, not even realizing that I can have happiness right now. Right in this moment.
We can have happiness now.
Who says that we have to wait for it to come? Who says that we can't be happy in the moment? If we keep waiting for the future to bring us happiness it will never come. I've experienced this. As soon as "this" or "that" happen, we find another reason to wait for happiness because surely, we could be a lot happier than we feel.
I'm working on looking at happiness as a choice. It is a choice. There aren't many things we can control in the world. We can't control when the rain is going to stop or when we're going to get a promotion or when a loved one leaves this earth. Things just happen. Life happens. We can't let it pass us by as we wait for some fantasized happiness that exists in the future. We need to choose to be happy right now, in this very moment.
Put a smile on your face. Sing a happy song. Eat a piece of chocolate. Make the future now and enjoy being happy. I know that as we do this our trials will become more bearable. We will be able to recognize the countless blessings that Heavenly Father has given to us and enjoy the small and simple things in life.
"The path toward fulfilling our divine destiny as sons and daughters of God is an eternal one. My dear brothers and sisters, dear friends, we must begin to walk that eternal path today; we cannot take for granted one single day." Dieter F. Uchtdorf

15 March 2014

Changing Change

The only thing in life that's constant is change. I'm sure you've heard that phrase rehearsed a million times and I'm pretty sure you'll hear it a million more. In the words of Marvin J. Ashton, an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "There is nothing so unchanging, so inevitable as change itself." For me, change is usually a negative thing. I have to change something I'm doing because I've been doing it wrong or I have to change it because it's not working. Change can seem like something that has to happen when what we're doing isn't good enough. And that can make us angry! "What do you mean I have to change this? What do you mean what I'm doing isn't good enough?" We can be so set in our ways, so comfortable with the way things are, that we don't even entertain the thought that maybe change is a good thing. I'll be the first to say that I am not always a fan of change. Sometimes I'll fight it and go in with a negative attitude. Why should I have to change what I'm doing? I like things the way that they are and I don't want to change a thing. But once I changed my perspective of change, I began to see it in a new light (ironic, huh?).
Let's do some visualization, shall we? Say that you are a piano player. You've been playing for a few years and you feel pretty good about your musicality. Then one day you go to a concert and listen to a pianist who sounds a million times better than you do. You really, really want to be just as good as them. You want to improve. Makes sense, yeah? So what do you do to improve? You practice more, you learn more technique, you work toward your full potential as a piano player. Note how in this example, not once did I use the word "change." But that's what you're doing, isn't it? You're changing how much you practice, the techniques you use, and the effort you put in because you want to improve. Change is a desire to improve! Change can put us into a growth zone that allows us to improve ourselves and challenge ourselves. Another little saying I've heard is, "there's not comfort in the growth zone and no growth in the comfort zone." To change is to grow, and in order to grow we need to spend time in the growth zone.
I know, the growth zone sounds like a scary place. I imagine that I'm walking along a forest trail and it's pitch black. I can't see my way and I'm stumbling over branches and falling into holes. It's hard and painful and I just want to turn around and go back to the part of the forest where I know there's light. I mean, who enjoys falling into holes and getting cut up by branches? No one. Now, let's imagine I keep walking down this dark path. It's hard going and I feel like I'm never going to make it to the end. So I stop in my path and turn around, maybe this just isn't worth it. That's when I see what I've accomplished. That's when I see the light that I've brought to this dark forest. The view is beautiful. The journey has been worth it because I've uncovered this beautiful path. Now I want to keep going so I can uncover more of this path. I feel accomplished and I can see what a blessing walking the path has been.
This is what change is. It's walking that hard path because the blessings you receive are far more worth the stumbling that it took. We are living our lives so that we can become better people, so that we can become the very best us that there can be. Are we going to sell ourselves short of our full potential because change is hard? We shouldn't! When we were sent down to this Earth our Heavenly Father knew it was going to be hard for us. We knew it was going to be hard. But that didn't stop us. That didn't dull or diminish our desire to want to be better. The fact that you're in this world today and full of life is proof  that you made the decision to come down to this earth to gain a body and grow to your full potential. It's gonna be hard, but the things that are hardest in life are the things that are most worth it! And if you feel like it's ever too much, that you just can't take another step in the dark forest, there is help. There is someone there who will lift you up, who will begin to light your path so that you can see. That person is Jesus Christ. In Christ, we can do all things. He can light our path and show us where the holes and branches are. Sure, we're still going to fall because that's life and we're all a little clumsy, but with His light we'll also begin to see the beauty in change as we can go through it.
Never let anyone tell you that you can't change. Don't let them rob you of the precious opportunity you have to lighten the forest and find beauty. Embrace the forest that is change and find joy in the journey. Because really, that's what life is all about. Trying a little harder to become a little better and finding the joy in the journey.