"...but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer." 3 Nephi 22:8







Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Prophets

Because I am so excited that General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is almost here, I have been thinking about prophets. I have always been a member of this church and so I have believed in the value of prophets. My heart's desire is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. But I often fall so very short.

If I knew that Jesus Christ was coming to the earth to teach on a specific day. My ears would perk up. I would want to know all the details. When and where would He come. How can I get there? I do not think I would have to check my calendar or check my wallet to see if I could afford to be where The Savior of the World would be teaching. I would not wonder about what to wear, or what to take, or how hard it might be. I would not consider the cost of juggling my schedule. I would not think ,"It is just not a very convenient day for me." I would just go.

What would I be willing to do to sit at the feet of The Savior and listen to His teachings?  That question was asked once in a class I attended. A faithful sister commented, "We would crawl on broken glass."

I think she is right. We would just go.

But often when there is an opportunity to listen to prophets and apostles of The Lord Jesus Christ, our attitudes are very different. We consider the cost of discipleship. "There are so many things to do that I just cannot spare the time," I hear. Faithful Sunday church attenders have no need to listen to General Conference.

And I wonder why are we so casual about listening to prophets?

We live in a wonderful day and age when it is really convenient and easy for most of us to listen to prophets of God, often within our own homes. Little effort is required of us at all. If we miss a meeting, it can be accessed quickly on the internet. I can read and listen to the talks almost immediately. Do we take for granted the value of being there on time, ready to listen, learn, and be taught by The Holy Ghost?

If we really believe that a prophet speaks for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, what should we be willing to do to listen as they teach us, immediately? What could possibly be more important for the world? What could possibly be more important for me?

When I was a freshman at college, I remember gathering in the dorm lounge to watch General Conference. I was impressed by other female students who attended in their Sunday best. That showed to me the value that they placed on listening to prophets and apostles.

I love that I can be more relaxed in my own home. I can dress as I want. I can munch on a snack if I am hungry. I can sit on any seat I want. I can move around the room. I like that comfortable casual feel of enjoying General Conference.

But that does not mean I feel casual about the opportunity to listen to a Prophet of God. Because I believe he is the mouthpiece for Heavenly Father, and what he says is vital to my salvation, I want to be ready to hear every single word.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Listening

Does anyone really listen anymore?

Yesterday I had another one of those experiences that left me pretty wounded and it reminded me that listening seems to be fading around me. Interrupting, changing the subject, walking away in the middle of the conversation however appear to be on the rise.

It is disheartening and very discouraging!

I realize that I am not a genius and often have nothing that is worth listening to coming from my mouth. But many other people have the same problem. I try to listen!  Sometimes I listen long past my desire to listen, just to be polite and to show the person that I am listening to them and that I value them. But that same philosophy does not seem to be coming towards me.

In the middle of answering a question that I was asked by someone I thought was a friend, the subject changed and the person turned and walked away, leaving me sitting there, wondering why I had bothered to participate in the conversation anyway.  I wanted to respond to this person that if they had not been interested in a conversation with me, they should not have instigated it in the first place. Perhaps it is needless to say, not feeling like talking to that person right now. Still feeling a bit lonely and friendless since that experience.

It felt so unkind to me!

So I turned my attention to myself. Am I a good listener, really? Am I any different? Do I do the same thing? It is time for me to pay attention to the way I listen to others. Am I really listening or am I sitting on the edge of the conversation waiting to jump in and take over with my life experiences? Am I doing exactly the same thing to others?

What kind of listening do I really offer to others?

I was asked to participate in a phone survey last week. Not thrilled!  But I began to answer the questions. The person who was on the other end of the phone line kept trying to change my answers. She talked over me as I was speaking, repeatedly. I was not allowed to complete a sentence without her jumping in while I was talking. I finally told her that I was through with the survey since she was not interested in anything that I had to say anyway. I politely thanked her for her time and hung up.

Is my experience with listeners similar to anyone else or is this just reserved for me?

A friend became frustrated when her husband seemed to not be listening to her anymore. She said that she had told him she did not know whether to be angry that he was not listening to her or to be worried that he had Alzheimer's disease which was causing an inability to listen. I empathized with her a great deal. But I also wanted to say, "At least he used to listen to you. Many wives have not had the experience!"

Then I got on my knees to talk to the only friend I have who will listen to me, anytime, anywhere, any situation. Prayer will help restore my soul. Heavenly Father is not too busy to listen. He is not just waiting on the edge of His seat, ready to jump in and take over the conversation. He will not change the subject, or turn and walk away from me while I am still meditating. He will be there.

What a great blessing!  I want to work harder to be more like Him!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Miracles

I believe in miracles! I almost always feel that I need a miracle. Sometimes it is for me personally, but often it is for someone else I know. Maybe a spouse, a child, a grandchild or even a friend who needs a miracle. That ongoing need for miracles helps keep me on my knees. Sometimes miracles are huge and easy to recognize. Often they are more subtle and it may take a bit of time for me to grasp the significance of what has happened. Probably I miss noticing many of them as well.

But I am trying to see them!

Recently a friend needed a miracle. She could see an adult child making choices that were clearly leading to disaster. She learned from experience that her child did not want to hear opinions that varied from her own. The counsel from mom was ruining her life. It squashed her happiness and her agency. And because it distanced the mother and child from each other, the wise mother kept her opinions to herself and counseled with the Lord.

There are many times in life when that is the best thing one can do. Go to the knees!

The good news is that the "child came to herself" and realized the error of her path. She could see the danger ahead, because of a simple question that someone else asked her. She chose to turn away from the direction of disaster.

And her mother rejoiced!

It was a big, easy to see, obvious miracle. It came at the right time and in the right way for the child to learn for herself from a loving Heavenly Father who listens to our pleas and orchestrates the details of our lives in ways we do not always understand or see.

On Monday my miracle was not quite so obvious to me. It took a little time to recognize the promptings of The Holy Ghost who lead us on a path we needed to walk. We needed to purchase an item that was just the right fit for someone else. It was a bit of a daunting task. We knew it was something we needed to do. But, the task was not simple as we did not know what the right fit would be. We hoped we would recognize it when we found it.

And the search began.

We shopped on line for ideas. We pulled out the phone book for shops to visit. We checked out what we believed was available in our small community. We saw lovely things. But nothing seemed to be the right fit. We traveled to a larger shopping community and shopped some more. So many beautiful options. But we left each store a bit more discouraged, because we had not found anything we would even consider buying.

We continued to pray and ponder and discuss. We looked online again and a few days passed. A deadline was looming in our path and we felt we had accomplished NOTHING!

Again on Monday we headed out to try again. We headed to stores, certain we would find nothing to meet our need. But as we headed away from home, a name of a store popped into my mind. It had never occurred to me to shop there. I almost never do. I forget it is even in our town. Though I could not imagine us finding what we needed there. I mentioned to my shopping companion that we might try this store before we left town again.

And there it was. The right fit. We both felt it was the best fit we had seen. But we wanted to be certain. We checked out all the other 'unlikely' stores first, and truly found nothing. We returned to the item that seemed right and purchased it.

I am sad to say that it did not occur to me for several hours that God had clearly answered my prayers. He had lead me on the path I needed to walk. But I was slow to grasp His goodness. It was subtle and quiet.

But it was miraculous!