2008 seems to be setting a record (at least in my limited perspective) for the most bad news! Although I’ve usually limited my news savvy to what I glean from the news summaries on Meridian , the last few months I allowed myself consistently to be sucked into the screaming headlines and troubling controversies. The day after the election, with the Proposition 8 verdict still too close to call, and all the negatives I’d heard about certain prevailing candidates fresh on my mind, my lower back went into painful spasms. This has long been my body’s way of telling me I’m way over-tired and over-stressed.
I spent the next few days in bed, barely able to move, but given the opportunity to gain a better perspective.
Turning Into the Good News of the Gospel
Our wise stake leaders had given us the assignment to review and study all the October conference talks before our next stake conference the first week of December. I hadn’t been making great progress, but this down time gave me just the “excuse” I needed to focus on them.
Partly because I’ve preferred to study conference talks in the Ensign , I hadn’t until then discovered how amazingly easy the Church’s web site (lds.org) makes it to click onto the conference videos. But laying helpless in bed, it was better for me to watch the conference videos on my computer than to try to sit up and read them. I began immersing myself in the hope-filled, Spirit-filled words of the Brethren and I never want to quit!
The contrast between the good news of the gospel and the bad news I’d been reading and hearing is something I’ll never forget. There is such a direct connection between the focus of our minds and our feelings; as I focused on light and truth, the darkness I’d been feeling immediately lifted.
Pres. Uchtdorf’s message of hope turned my focus from this world to a better and reminds me that joy need not be a missing commodity. His encouraging words and testimony are so heart-lifting that I want to go back to them over and over. Elder Holland ‘s testimony of the ministering of angels, and that we are never left alone in our problems and troubles is a balm to my soul. The strength of Elder Marcos Aidukaitis’s testimony of the power of the Book of Mormon and the influence of his father’s righteous decisions on him and his posterity lifted me. Elder Wirthlin’s humor and sweet message to accept whatever comes and love it makes me smile every time I think of it. President Monson’s peaceful countenance and words encouraging us to find joy in the journey and relish life reminded me of all the good in my own circumstances-despite what is going on in the world. I could go on an on.
In light of the frightening backlash to the passage of Proposition 8 in California , as I listened again to President Eyring’s message on unity and Elder Hale’s on Christian Courage, as well as many other pertinent messages, I marveled. Once again I could see so clearly the inspiration behind the words of the Brethren. By inspiration they knew beforehand exactly what we were going to need and they gave it to us!
I have been overcome with gratitude for the firm foundation of the gospel, of apostles and prophets, of words of faith and hope to light our way in this darkening world.
And I’ve been so heartened by the courageous and Christ-like responses of Church members to the swell of persecution that has followed our stand on marriage.
But How Can I Stay in Faith, Not Fear?
I’m well aware that my current personal challenges are minor, comparatively speaking. I’m safe and sound in a nice neighborhood in West Jordan , Utah , not likely at the moment to be targeted by hate groups. But what if the Church called on me to be actively involved in the foray? What if I had lived in California ?
Would I have had what it takes to carry “yes” signs and be called names . . . and worse? What if it was our family business that was being boycotted for our support of Proposition 8-our livelihood that was threatened? What if the persecution gets so fierce that I cannot attend a temple even in Utah without harassment?
That’s where the rubber hits the road. I’m a chicken at heart, after all-a people pleasing, peace at any price wimp. Can the Lord really take my weakness and turn it into strength?
Mouthing gospel platitudes won’t be enough as we head into these last days battles for the souls of men. Only a living faith that God is our ever-present help in trouble will be.
How do we get that kind of faith and keep it? A big part of the answer is to turn off the bad news of the world and tune into the good news of the gospel.
Immersing ourselves in the scriptures and conference talks-so easily available-won’t solve all our problems. But it is the best way I know to keep tuned into the very real power of the Spirit. As we invite the guidance of the Holy Ghost and make our minds and hearts a place of faith, I know we will be given the strength we need, day by day to prevail. What more could we ask?