The topic I chose to use for the walk part of my practicum project was Choosing Cheerfulness. I have been working through some personal trials in my life right now. In the midst of those trials there are times when it is hard to be happy. I know that my Heavenly Father wants me to be happy. I’m sure it is heart breaking for Him to see us hurting and wallowing in that misery. Because of this I decided to work on making happiness an intentional choice. Several of the talks I read on choosing cheerfulness talked about the connection between happiness and seeing the Lord’s hand in our lives, counting our blessings, and having gratitude for what we have been blessed with. So over the last six weeks I have kept a gratitude journal. I haven’t written in it every day, but at least a couple times a week, specifically when I was having a harder day. What I learned is that as I would start to write about one thing I was grateful for my mind would be opened up to other blessings I had not recognized. Writing also showed me how the Lord had been mindful of me and of tender mercies I had not recognized as such. It was such a good way to jolt me out of a pity party. I think it was very beneficial especially on the days I was struggling to be happy, though I think writing in my journal daily in the future would be even more beneficial. I think it may stop the potential despondency before it even starts.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Pornography is the spiritual plague of this generation. Pornography easily becomes an addiction that has far reaching and devastating effects. It is a tool that Satan will use to rob us of the potential God sees in us. It is a trap he will use to damn our progress. It will destroy our spiritual sensitivity and keep us from being able to feel and respond to the promptings of our Heavenly Father. And once we have been effectively caught in the trap it is almost impossible to get out. With statistics showing that 100% of children will be exposed to the filth it is terrifying as a parent. We must teach our children to stay completely away from it. In doing this they can avoid the pain and suffering that comes to families as a result of this terrible monster, this weapon of spiritual mass destruction.
I've learned a lot about personal revelation in the last year. One of the things I have learned is that Heavenly Father wants to talk to us all the time, but many times we do not open the lines for Him to do so. When we say our prayers more regularly and more meaningfully we make that connection easier. When we immerse ourselves in the scriptures it does so much to open those lines. It helps to tune our spirit in so that we can hear those quiet promptings and inspirations. Finally, we have to turn a few things down and shut a few things off and create a quiet space where the Spirit is not drowned out by the noise we typically surround ourselves with. When we do these things it is amazing what the Lord will share with us. When He knows that we are going to value what He shares with us, that we are going to act on the directions He gives us, we are much more likely to get answers to our prayers and our concerns.
We are told that God will choose who to forgive, but we are required to forgive all men. That "all men" includes ourselves. When we have made big mistakes, those kind of mistakes that are life changing and hurt the ones we love the most, it is hard to get past them, hard to forgive ourselves. Yet, we are still commanded to do so. Guilt has its place. It is a powerful tool that the Lord uses to motivate us towards repentance. But once it has done its job, it is to be let go, absorbed through the atonement of Christ. If we choose to hang onto it, guilt becomes Satan’s tool to hamper our progress. It is wasted effort to cling to guilt or to covet the life we once had. Once repentance is complete and we have done everything we can to rectify our wrongs, we must embrace the lessons we have learned and let go of the pain of the past. We have to stop looking back and move forward. We must forgive ourselves.
We were sent to earth not on our own, but to be in a family unit. The family is the training place where we learn to develop characteristics that make us more like our Savior and Heavenly Father. We learn love, patience, kindness, repentance, forgiveness, service, selflessness, compassion, loyalty, dependability, and so much more. As a child our biggest responsibility is to learn to be obedient and to love. As a parent our stewardship in this area is huge! We are responsible to use the guidance of the gospel to help teach our children the values that will help them live up to their potential. We set the example of what priorities should be held in their lives. We show them what a good mother/father is and does. We are to make the home a safe place for them to learn. The church has given us some wonderful tools to assist us, but in the end it is our responsibility to follow through.
Meekness is a characteristic I have just recently become intrigued with. From what I understand about it it is a powerful characteristic. It basically means you are so secure in yourself that you are not easily ruffled, not easily offended. You are not prideful, so your ego cannot be easily damaged. It is the ability to be tough but tender at the same time. It is an amazing characteristic that Christ displayed well as He walked the earth. I believe as we seek to become more humble we will become more aware of our weaknesses and what we need to work on. When we take the time to listen and understand rather than be adamant in presenting our opinion, we are acting in meekness. When we can do this there is so much contention that can be avoided. This is not a characteristic easily developed, but I feel it is one that is worth the time and effort.
"... and men are that they might have joy." I look around me at the beauty of God's creations and they all testify to me that our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. There are struggles and hardships that come into all of our lives. Some come through our own choices, some through the poor choices of someone else, and some just because their is opposition in all things. We are meant to taste the bitter so we can appreciate the sweet. But no matter how difficult things may seem, we can still choose to be happy. Someone once taught me The Coin Theory. If you look at a coin you cannot see both sides at the same time. You have to choose a side to focus on and dismiss the other side. This does not mean that the other side does not exist, just that you are choosing not to focus on it. We have this choice in life as well. We can look at the positive things that are happening and dismiss the negative or visa versa. It doesn't mean that there aren't bad things that have happened, it just means that we have chosen to to focus on them, not to allow them power over us. It must be very disheartening to our Father when we are not grateful for the good things He has given us and rather choose to be miserable.