Happy Birthday Luci!!! I love you. Your school pictures are beautiful.
I got Dearelders on Monday! Thank you. And Grant, I finally got a letter from you! Marlon, I got your letter but somehow lost your email address to write back to you. Can you send it to me again?
Mum, I had been thinking about the reunion theme before your letters came, and I was also thinking that the theme should be about family bonds. I’ve realized how strong the ties are in BOTH directions-- our ancestors are our family just as much as the ones that are living now and just as much as our descendents. We’re all sealed together to know each other and enjoy each other for forever! There’s a lot of merit in getting to know our ancestors on a personal level through family history, just like we get to know our family right now. I wish I could think of a catchy theme, but the only one is “Ties That Bind” and that’s already been taken... What are your recent thoughts?
Last week, I had an experience that changed my whole life perspective, but I didn’t even get to write about it. We had a zone conference (that they told us about the night before. We were also supposed to tell the ward council to attend) during an extremely busy week, so we got there and I was already a little stressed. Then conference goes on for 6 hours (with a 7-minute break in the middle) and so I'm worried about all of the many appointments we’re going to have to change and also the ward council members who not only came on very late notice, but were also not very involved the whole time and were missing their entire work day. And I kept trying to tell myself to calm down because it was a good thing and we were receiving instruction.
But people just keep on talking and talking and talking, and President keeps on adding more and more and more things that we need to start studying and doing and getting done, and because I saw the things that President was saying as commandments from God, I was trying to figure out how in the world we were going to incorporate all of them on top of what we were already doing to continue to be obedient. It got to the point that I was thinking: “There is literally not TIME to do all of this. It's not even possible.” I was wondering if they were even things inspired of God. And so that made me feel even worse, like I was not only incapable of being obedient, but that I was doubting the authority of my leaders.
Anyway, on top of it all I was feeling sick, and so at about hour 5, I just kind of gave up trying to listen and actually started tearing up--which usually is not how I react to things. I was sitting on the front row so President noticed, and afterwards he came up and asked what was wrong and at that point I wasn’t really sure, because I’m used to having lots of stress and it usually doesn’t even phase me. Pretty much all the time I am a happy and content person. My reaction seemed pretty irrational to me and so I didn’t really know what to tell him. And then, President, being the good person that he is, asks me to come to his office with him.
Anyway, through what I explained to President and what he explained to me, I realized I had been thinking a lot of incorrect things:
1. That everyone in the whole world was “saveable” because Heavenly Father knows everyone’s hearts and what and how to tell them things to change their hearts. So if He had a perfectly sensitive instrument, He could save everybody.
2. That the way to be a sensitive and a more successful missionary was to be exactly obedient like it says in the scriptures. Heavenly Father has already given us instructions of how to be successful-- which are the commandments-- so the more obedient we are the more successful we will be. An infinitely obedient person will be infinitely successful. They will also continue to grow infinitely in their personal development. So I should be as obedient as possible to the commandments, the missionary rules, what it says in PMG, and everything the prophets and my leaders say.
3. The other way to be exactly sensitive and obedient is to ask the Lord to direct me in everything. He is infinitely more wise and knows infinitely better than I do, so why not ask His advice and confirmation in every decision?
Well, that’s pretty much a recipe to go crazy. I never realized I was a perfectionist, but I realized that I wasn’t even allowing myself to feel good about what I was doing because in the eternal perspective, I had so much more to go. I think I was trying to be exalted while I was still 19 or something. Anyway, from President, and also from my scripture study the past few weeks, I realized some things:
1. Heavenly Father does know His children WAY better than I do and will certainly instruct me unto convincing them and touching their hearts. BUT, lots of people will receive a spiritual witness and still choose not to accept it. Heavenly Father won’t infringe upon agency. Even Christ, the most effective and sensitive missionary ever, couldn’t convert everyone.
2. Exact obedience DOES make us more successful and is necessary for our progression, but exact obedience is different than infinite obedience. Just like making a measurement in a science lab-- we need to make an EXACT measurement, but an exact measurement doesn't mean less than and it also doesn’t mean more than-- and it certainly doesn’t mean pouring and pouring and pouring. Knowing how to obey the commandments requires instruction of the Spirit. There is the RIGHT way to obey the commandments. Also, the missionary rules are not eternal truths meant to be taken on the same spiritual level as the scriptures. :) I read a lot about the Jewish elders taking laws to the extreme and eventually worshiping the law more than God.
3. I should be constantly seeking Heavenly Father’s aid in all I do, because He DOES know how to live my life better than I do. But I also realized that a lot of things DON'T MATTER TO HIM. Yes, a lot of worldly occurrences fit into His grand scheme of things, but not everything. There are lots of instances in the D&C when he actually says “you can do this or this, it mattereth not to me.” Heavenly Father is so reasonable. :) Also, he wants me to be gaining wisdom as He’s guiding me so I can eventually be as wise and intelligent as He is, not so dependent on Him that I’m not thinking for myself.
There are some more reasonable ways of looking at things. I’m not really sure how I got convinced of my first conclusions-- I guess sometimes I get an idea and accept it as fact. Bup, it reminds me of that time when you told me that some people, especially in their study of doctrine, tend to black-and white things. They become convinced of something, and then everything else anybody else says has to fit in the confines of what they think or it must not be true. I realized I always have to be careful to be humble and be willing to change my opinions about the things that I learn from my personal study. :) I also realized how stinkin’ sneaky Satan is, using a good desire to serve God and be obedient and changing just a few things to put you on a path that will deter your progression.
Anyway, I’ve relaxed a lot and even though I was enjoying my mission before, I've been taking things a lot slower (especially in my desire to learn everything.) I’ve been a lot more patient with my progression and realizing since I’ve got all eternity to get better and because Christ already atoned for me sins, I don’t have to figure everything out right now. I can take joy in the journey. Hna. Harper and I don’t feel nearly as stressed but, for some reason, we’re actually getting more done. Huh.
How was Luci’s baptism?!! Luci, can you write to me and tell me about it?