A pattern is starting to occur in my life, where I am back at home at the end of each year. Without fail, I come across a few old journals, begin to read, and soon begin a night of reflection that turns into a a few days :) Coupled with New Years goals, the thoughts and feelings usually produce enough umph to help me actually reach some of those goals!
This year, the following reflections came, mainly from reading old mission letters, and reading a talk from Pesident Henry B. Eyring, of the First Presidency of the LDS church, & Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quroum of 12 Apostles. I love this picture of them below (for a little visual :)
The talk is called “O Remember, Remember” from the Nov 2007 Ensign. In summary, he shares an experience as a kid when the thought came to him, “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.” He began that night to write, and has kept the habit up. At the end of each day, he would ask himself, “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us, or our family today?”. As he thought about it, he began to recognize where the Lord had intervened throughout the day, and said, ‘I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”
Gratitude began to grow. Testimony grew. He writes, ‘And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.”
These statements have really caused me to reflect the past 3 days sense reading them. I’ve started an experiment, trying out his reflecting method to end my own days…and I have seen the blessings. Friday, the Lord intervened, placing an old friend in my path as my bank teller. She shaved 2 weeks off the process of getting a hold of money I needed that day to pay bills. What were the odds I would be assigned to the one teller I had been good friends with in 4th grade? That was no coincidence, it was a tender mercy Yesterday, while cleaning, I came across the letters I had written home while a missionary. I read a few and had brought back to my mind experiences I’d had with some of the people I loved most in Uruguay. I had forgotten details…and I had forgotten the feelings, and the testimony gained from the experiences. All the feelings, love, yearning for their happiness, and affirmations of truth came rushing back as I read those letters. I don’t think I can adequately express here the power those letters had on me. Sometimes, the mission feels like a dream—no one else really experienced it, and it feels like a far-off memory. It’s so bittersweet to think back: it was the most profound, powerful impact of your life, and yet something you hardly ever get to talk about. You see pure miracles happen, honest to goodness things you’d think you’ll only read about in books or hear from others…and then you return home, and rarely have chance to share them. Or, find that all anyone asks about is what the food & weather were like. On the mission, you see heaven reach down and touch earth. You see mountains moved and prophecies fulfilled. In time, for me, I have started to forget. I honestly don’t remember some of the stuff that I read about in my mission journal, and it amazes me I saw such things in my own life, or that I boldly said some of the things I said. Last night, hearing myself speak so assuredly of the power of the Book of Mormon, in the moment in life when I was watching it change lives, was a powerful experience for me . It not only reminded me of my testimony, but also backed up Elder Eyring’s words that we should write down these things, for they will strengthen us later when we remember them. I felt the experience of finding these letters was the Lord intervening in my day. Yesterday, I also realized that a random, kind “I love you David.” Calms my little brother down, and causes him to sweetly say back, “I love you too.” Believe me, THAT was a tender mercy to discover! Today, I touched base with so many people that I have not really seen or spoke with for 8 years, but who had big impacts on me during my youth. It felt good to hear of them, and strengthen them. It felt good to feel gratitude for their service to me, and to try and repay them with a kind smile and offer my friendship. It felt like a loving gift from a loving Father to make this day special. In the 3 days since trying Elder Eyring’s experiment, I have come to see the value each day has held in my eternal progression. Isn’t that amazing advice given to us? I definitely think so!
He also gave us a warning, that particularly stood out to me. He said, ‘Seeing such things takes the Holy Ghost. And it is not easy to be worthy of the Holy Ghost’s companions in a wicked world….’Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from they heart all the days of thy life.” (Deuteronomy 4:9). This really caused me to think. Am I doing things in my daily life, that keep me from recognizing the hand of God? Yeah, actually. I’m not talking huge sins, but worldly distractions keep me from even glancing heavenward till the end of my day sometimes. What am I doing that is causing me to forget the profound lessons I’ve learned?
At church, they spoke of the people who partook of the tree of life, but then cast it away, ashamed, due to the pointing and laughing from the people at the great and spacious building. I thought back to Elder Eyring’s words, and wondered, “Did they forget? Did they forget all the tender mercies, and moments of divine intervention that got them through that mist, that kept them grasping the iron rod, to get to the fruit?” At some point, they stopped remembering those experiences, or maybe never even took the thought to recognize them, and then the voices of the world became louder and louder…until those voices became their reality, blinding them to the blessing of eternal life they held in their grasp. It gave me food for thought. How loud is the voice of the world to me right now?
Also at church, the RS lesson was on how to “fuel” the soul. Every answer and story shared, was a means to help us remember what the Lord has done. Remember our testimonies, and thus keep them strengthened: Profound prayer, taking the sacrament, searching the scriptures. Sister Painter, now serving as the Stake YW President, turned to me at the end and said, “you know, I was going to say “fulfilling our callings’, but sometimes, that completely tires you out! I mean, sometimes, this calling really kicks my butt. But then, I stop and think of all the miracles I’ve seen while serving, and I realize it’s all worth it.” That really made me think, too. Sometimes…oft times …serving in a calling can mean “Wasting and wearing out their lives” as it says in D&C. And yet…those are the times we reflect on to strengthen testimony. I read my mission letters to renew testimony. Elder John Groberg wrote a book that became an amazing movie (The Other Side of Heaven). President Eyring gave his kids his old journals, and they refer to them to help them through their own lives.
I love how when studying a topic, the Spirit custom-fits all the messages at church to what I am pondering. It’s almost as if he’s elbowing me a bit, reminding me to pay attention, this is important, and yes, there will be a life-test on it later
In the talk that follwed that conference, new Apostle, Quentin L. Cook spoke on living by faith, and not by fear. He shared one of my favorite scriptures (it rhymes ), “Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants. Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you, and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ” (D&C 68:5-6).
His reminder, coupled with Elder Eyring’s encouragement to keep a tangible remembrance, has caused me to reflect a lot on the experiences in my life that I need to always remember. I guess it’s what prompted the 3-page essay on my experiences with an Apostle. It’s also making me think on my current situation in life. Isn’t it written somewhere, that some trials are given people, so that they may testify of the hand of God in their lives? This scripture makes me think of that—"Be of good cheer, I’ll be with you every step. Bear record of this to others.” Strengthen one another….haha, but that leads to another lengthy “reflection” that ended up turning into a talk :)