Sunday, July 9, 2017

What I learned from Elder M. Joseph Brough

Good morning my friends! And happy Sunday!

Since I've been home from my mission I've had the sacred opportunity to teach my stake's mission preparation class early on Sunday mornings. It has been such a wonderful blessing to share the experiences and knowledge I gained on my mission with those preparing to serve. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to serve.

This morning, however, I didn't teach mission prep. We were blessed to have  who is the Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency come speak to us. You might have remembered his talk in General Conference this last April. What a wonderful opportunity that was to sit and listen to him teach as I reflected on my service as a missionary.

The first thing he talked about struck me because it had nothing to do with missionary work. He talked about relationships. He said that "relationships are everything. They are the plan."

The plan he was referring to was of course, God's plan of happiness. The plan He made so that each of us would be able to return to live with Him again someday. What I realized this morning is that none of us can return to live with our Heavenly Father alone. Eternal Life is a group activity.

That got me to thinking about my relationships. How important are each of my relationships on my path back to Heaven.

Obviously families are very important. Because we know that through Priesthood Power families can be sealed together in temples. How grateful I am for the blessing that I have in my life to have such a wonderful family.

But what about my other relationships? As I sat there thinking I realized that every single person I've ever come in contact with has affected my journey back to my Father in Heaven.

When I was fourteen I had an EFY counselor that challenged me to pray about the Book of Mormon and ask if it was true. I'm sure this counselor doesn't realize the impact that had on my life or the lives of the thousands of people I met in Florida that I shared that experience with. There were many people who were able to enter the waters of baptism because they prayed and asked if it was true. They never would have asked had I not challenged them to. And I surely wouldn't have offered up that challenge had I not believed in it with every fiber of my being. And that testimony never would have come to me had that counselor not challenged me to pray on that Thursday night six years ago.

The people we meet on a daily basis have so much more influence on our lives than we realize.

Last Sunday I bore my testimony in my singles ward. And today, a week later, I found myself sitting at the church waiting for a temple recommend interview with a member of the stake presidency. As I was sitting there a lady came up to me and said "you're name's Whitney right? I really enjoyed the testimony you shared last week!" To think that something I shared at church could have affected someone and helped them feel the spirit made me want to go out and share the gosepel that I love with more people.

A couple days ago I was at a college orientation and had to find an office somewhere on a campus that I didn't really know. I wandered around for a little while and suddenly found myself a little lost. I started to pray right away for someone to help me. Not two seconds later a lady looked at me and said "do you need help looking for something?" right away I knew she was an answer to my prayers and was grateful for her help! I know that she was sent to that hallway specifically for me. I may never see her again, but I know her small act of service affected my life because she was willing to go out of her way to help me. That's what the Savior would have done.

So I challenge you to ponder these relationships as you go thought your week this week. Think about your families. Think about your friends. Think about those you see at school or at work. Think about that random person you see sitting across from you on the bus. We have the opportunity to influence the lives of all of those around us for the better if we choose to act as the Savior would act.

So this week do something to strengthen a few of these relationships. Give your mom a hug. Reach out to a friend you haven't talked to in a while. Smile at somebody in the hallway. Write a letter to a missionary. Say thank you. Share your testimony. Do something you'd imagine the Savior would do.

I know that we are all brothers and sisters and in this great eternal plan that our Heavenly Father has made "relationships are everything."


Friday, July 7, 2017

The answers that hurt

God's timing. It's always right isn't it? But it hurts sometimes.

In my short twenty years of living I've come to learn this a few times.

I grew up a competitive power tumbler. It was my everything. I carried a little notebook to school with me and wrote my tumbling goals in it. When I was at the gym I was happy. And when my head would hit the pillow at the end of the day I'd dream of leotards and back flips.

Maybe you've heard this story if you know me very well. But as I was finishing my junior year I competed at the Power Tumbling Utah State Championships. I did the best I'd ever done and found myself with a silver medal and a score that qualified me for what would have been my fourth national championships.

I had it made. Or so I thought. But at the time I truly believed I was on my way to achieving the one thing that would make me happy.

Fortunately for me God knows what would really make me happy. And He knew that tumbling wasn't it. Long story short I received one of the most distinct promptings that I needed to quit tumbling. Many questioned this decision because it didn't really make much sense. And while I couldn't see what would come from this decision I decided to act anyways. I did the hardest thing I had ever done. I quit tumbling.

Over three years later I look back on my life and see how much God has directed me to where I need to be. I see the blessings I received from following that one little prompting. But at the time I knew I just had to act in faith that everything would work out for my good. Even if it hurt.

But while I see the blessings from that experience, I still sometimes have a hard time believing that the trials I face now really will work out.

When I came home from my mission a couple months ago I met a boy. A cute boy I might add. I liked this boy a lot and we started dating. I felt like the protagonist in a Disney Channel Original movie. Again, I felt like I had it made. I felt like I was on my way to achieving the one thing that would make me happy.

But I guess I still had something to learn about God's timing, and His plan because this cute boy recently told me he had been praying about our relationship and received an answer to his prayers. As he told me about the answer he had received my throat felt like it was choking as I fought the tears that were flooding to my eyes.

This answer hurt.

And doesn't it often feel like this? Haven't we all looked towards the heavens and questioned why things aren't working out the way we want them to?

I went for a drive tonight as the sun was setting just to think.

I watched the sun set with beautiful pink colors as I talked to my Heavenly Father. I asked Him about His plan. I asked Him why things have worked out the way they have. I asked Him what I needed to learn from this.

A familiar song from my phone played through my speakers.

While I can't say I know how things will turn out for me and the trials I face in my life, I can say that I have faith in God's timing. I know that His plan is to make our lives beautiful. Sometimes God's creative process includes a little heartbreak here and there. But I know it's those strokes of heartbreak on the canvas of our lives that creates the contrast that allows us to see the beautiful and bright parts of our lives. Our lives just wouldn't look quite as beautiful without them.

"Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend."
-Mosiah 4:9

So now I'll trust in that. I'll trust that He knows what He's doing with my life even if I can't see the outcome yet. Because just as it says in Romans...

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God." 
-Romans 8:28

So to all my friends out there in similar situations... have faith. Trust that things will work together for your good as you trust Him. Because I know without a doubt that His plan is always and forever will be the best plan.