Monday, November 9, 2015

Atonement and Spirit Farewell Talk

In my experience I’ve found that in life we get whatever we really want. When I really don’t want to do work, I don’t.  If I really want to go to the beach I will.  My brain will focus on doing whatever I center it around. Personally, I find this very scary. There are many ways I can get distracted in life and when I made this realization I was quite distraught for a while. It wasn’t until I went on splits with the missionaries that I found the answer to my problem.  I don’t remember exactly where we were or who we were talking to but I do know that the elder I was with said that the only way to real happiness is to align our will with the Lord’s will. Now I didn’t realize the answer was right in front of my face until I thought about it for a little bit, but in the end the spirit brought me to a very clear conclusion. If you want to be happy why wouldn’t you want to align yourself with the Lord? He’s an all knowing being who wants the best for you. It has never been so clear to me that every rule has a reason in this religion. And the reason there are rules is to keep us safe and help us to be happy.

Now I’m not the smartest. Sometimes I do things that I know I shouldn’t.  I have had many experiences where the spirit has said “don’t do that! You know what’ll happen!” and I do it anyways. I do strive to do what is right but sometimes it is very difficult. I have fallen over and over. At times I thought I was doomed to failure. Maybe this was the last straw and I had exhausted the Lord’s patience. Maybe he wouldn’t forgive me again. After these extreme moments of doubt I have always end up on my knees, praying for forgiveness and strength.  And every time the Lord is waiting to pick me up again. I am forever grateful to him for that.

After I’ve been in a slump like that I look to change myself for the better, to strengthen myself against slipping up again.  It is in these times I have found my relationship with the lord and my spiritual strength grows the most. My prayers will consist of questions or me thinking a problem out along with humble pleading for forgiveness.  And anytime I have tried to change myself for the better through prayer it has worked.  The key to this change, for me personally, is I have to put forth my best effort and the Lord helps me with the rest.  I’ve prayed for help in many things.  I’ve prayed for the strength to wakeup in the morning, help with studying; help with relationships, or even things as simple as feeling better.  I know that no matter how significant or insignificant our problems may seem, if it means something to us it means something to the Lord.

As I have come to realize that, my love for the Lord and my gratitude has grown immensely. As long as I sincerely ask and do all in my power to fix whatever I need help with, I have seen results.  This I know is a result of the Atonement.  For those of you who don’t know, the atonement was a selfless act by the perfect and sinless Jesus Christ to take upon himself all of the pains and afflictions of this world.  In order to access this atonement, sincere and faithful prayer is paramount. Knowing that he did that for me only strengthens my resolve to do what is right. My experiences with the atonement have been nothing but amazing as I have felt myself change. 

I’d like to share with you another experience.  A while back I was invited by my Sunday school teacher to look for the Lord’s hand in my life for one week.  After leaving the class the challenge was immediately pushed to the back of my brain where I didn’t think about it again for the next few months.  I eventually heard a talk which explained a man’s positive experience as he did the same thing I had been advised to do in Sunday school.  Remembering the challenge I stared to pray daily for the Lord’s help in seeing his hand.  After some time I began to feel more grateful and more blessed as the spirit showed me all the things I was being blessed with.  It was through this experience that I started to take honest account of my life.  I started paying attention to where I was with scripture study and prayer.  With the added attention to where I was spiritually I could more easily correct myself before making mistakes.  Through this I was more in tune with the spirit every day.

Having the spirit allowed me to make good decisions that positively impacted my life. I began to make better friends and decide to do the right thing beforehand.  I abounded in good works, diligently reading the scriptures, praying for strength and attending church meetings.  I found that as I did the little things I was more spiritually in tune. One lovely afternoon at BYUI I was walking home and thinking about all the events that happened over the years. In that moment I saw how all the little things had added up to put me in a great place physically and mentally. In that moment I saw how the Lord had guided me through the spirit and as a result I felt pure joy and love in that moment.  As my dad likes to say “there are no coincidences. Everything that happened to me was for a reason and was by design. A design, which is more complex than we can grasp and was made by the Lord for our happiness. Knowing that the Lord’s atonement allowed me to feel that way filled me with gratitude and humility.

Looking back on these experiences in my life makes me want to share the gospel because I can see how much happier I am now because of this gospel.  I’ve been through a lot so I understand the sorrow people can feel, but I also have felt the joy that the atonement has brought me along with the amazing spirit I’ve felt.  Having gone through these amazing experiences makes me want to give other people the chance to feel the joy I feel.  I’ve always known that I would go on a mission because that is what God expects of me and because he needs me.   Lately I have had a renewed desire to serve a mission because of other good experiences I’ve had as well.  The more I pay attention in church and really apply what I hear to myself the more I feel the spirit.  The feelings of peace that I get in church and in the temple are astounding and I know I would not be able to feel them if the atonement was not real.  Because of the life changing power of the atonement, I am so much better off.

I have always found the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi to be great role models.  In Alma 24:15-16 reads As I go through life I hope that I can be like them, fearing God more than man and doing what is right no matter the cost.  Valuing their cleanliness above all else.  Their faith inspires me to endure to the end.

I don’t remember who said this quote but I remember reading it somewhere and I know it to be true.  The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”  In all my experience in the church I found this to be true.  As long as we keep the big picture in mind we will make the right decisions.  Applying this principle to all aspects of my life has yielded great blessings and success as I remember what I’m working for.  I hope I can remember at all times to sacrifice my current self for what I can become.
if we fall and fall and fall some more, the Lord will always be there to pick us up.
Thank you all for the examples you have been to me