Friday, July 17, 2015

Personal Application Report

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.  

Pornography Position Statement

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.

Personal Revelation Position Statement

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.

Forgiving Self Position Statement

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.

Family Position Statement

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.

Developing Meekness Position Statement

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.

Choosing Cheerfulness Position Statement

"... 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.

Atonement Position Statement

When our Heavenly Father designed the plan of salvation for us it had three main pillars.  First there had to be a creation, a place created for us to live and be tested as well as the creation of man's mortal body.  Then there had to be a fall for men to come into existence and begin the testing process. Finally, God knew that we would all make mistakes and we would need a Savior to redeem us from our sins.  Jesus Christ volunteered to fill that role.  He came to earth and gave us the perfect example to live by.  He taught us the gospel and what was required for us to return back to God's care.  Then He paid the ultimate sacrifice by suffering for our sins and laying down His life so we could repent and be resurrected. His gift is offered freely to all of us, simply because God loves us.  The way we accept the gift is through repentance.  When we make a mistake, and we all do on a daily basis it is our responsibility to recognize those mistakes and repent.  When we repent it activates the power of the atonement and allows our sins to be wiped away giving us a clean slate to start again.  Through the atonement the Lord perfectly understands all our pains, sicknesses, weaknesses, and sorrows, and can offer us comfort for them.  The atonement also has an enabling power that helps us to be able to forgive others and to master hardships in our lives.  Without the atonement we could not return to our Heavenly Father.  No matter how small the sin, we would be barred from reentry and would be damned to a life of misery.  I am so grateful for the power of the atonement in my life.

Agency Position Statement

One of the greatest gifts we are given is our gift of agency.  It is a gift we had in the premortal life.  It is so valuable that a war was waged over our right to have it.  We know because we are here on earth in a mortal body that we used our agency there well. Now we are being tested to see how we will use it in mortality.  Because of our agency we are free to choose.  But we are not free to choose our consequences.  When we make good choices we are blessed.  When our choices are poor we have to suffer the negative consequences. Sometimes the consequences take a while to catch up to us, but they do inevitably catch up.   Ultimately, through our agency we choose happiness or misery.  The choice is ours.

Agency to Choose Happiness

Agency used righteously allows light to dispel the darkness and enables us to live with joy and happiness in the present, look with faith to the future, even into the eternities, and not dwell on the things of the past. Our use of agency determines who we are and what we will be.

Elder Robert D. Hales - April 2006 General Conference "To Act for Ourselves; the Gift and Blessings of Agency"

Be Happy

Finally, and most importantly, choose‍ to believe in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Accept the Savior’s forgiveness, and then forgive yourself. Because of His sacrifice for you, He has the power to “remember [your sins] no more.”24‍ You must do likewise.  After you are on the path and are “free to choose” again, choose to reject feelings of shame for sins you have already repented of, refuse to be discouraged about the past, and rejoice in hope for the future. Remember, it is Satan who desires that we be  miserable like unto himself.  Let your desires be stronger than his.  Be happy and confident about your life and about the opportunities and blessings that await you here and throughout eternity.  
Elder Robert D. Hales - April 2006 General Conference "To Act for Ourselves; the Gift and Blessings of Agency"

Feeling the Influence of the Spirit

 Choose‍ to put yourself in a position to have experiences with the Spirit of God through prayer, in scripture study, at Church meetings, in your home, and through wholesome interactions with others. When you feel the influence of the Spirit, you are beginning to be cleansed and strengthened. The light is being turned on, and where that light shines, the darkness of evil cannot remain.

Elder Robert D. Hales - April 2006 General Conference "To Act for Ourselves; the Gift and Blessings of Agency"

Getting Out of a Black Hole

As with the real black holes in space, it may seem all but impossible for light to penetrate to where you are. How do you escape? I testify the only way is through the very agency you exercised so valiantly in your premortal life, the agency that the adversary cannot take away without your yielding it to him.

Elder Robert D. Hales - April 2006 General Conference "To Act for Ourselves; the Gift and Blessings of Agency"

Do Not Yield

Sometimes we forget that our Heavenly Father desires that each of us have this joy. Only by yielding to temptation and sin can we be kept from that joy. And yielding is exactly what Satan wants us to do...the adversary can never have joy unless you and I sin.

Elder Robert D. Hales - April 2006 General Conference "To Act for Ourselves; the Gift and Blessings of Agency"

Resolves the Most Terrible Burdens

If the grim realities you are facing at this time seem dark and heavy and almost unbearable, remember that in the soul-wrenching darkness of Gethsemane and the incomprehensible torture and pain of Calvary, the Savior accomplished the Atonement, which resolves the most terrible burdens that can occur in this life. He did it for you, and He did it for me. He did it because He loves us and because He obeys and loves His Father.

Elder Quentin L. Cook - April 2015 General Conference "The Lord Is My Light" 

Finding Our Way again

Here the Savior tells of the effort of a shepherd searching for his lost sheep, of a woman searching for a lost coin, and of the welcome received by the prodigal son returning home. Why did Jesus teach these parables? He wanted us to know that none of us will ever be so lost that we cannot find our way again through His Atonement and His teachings.

Elder M. Russell Ballard - April 2012 General Conference "That the Lost May Be Found"

Prioritize Family

I point out these things not to boast but to testify that life is better (and much happier) as hearts turn toward family and as families live in the light of the gospel of Christ.  So what can we do to not become lost? First, may I suggest that we prioritize.‍ Put everything you do outside the home in subjection to and in support of what happens inside your home.  

“No other success can compensate for failure in the home” (quoted from J. E. McCulloch, Home: The Savior of Civilization‍ [1924], 42; in Conference Report, Apr. 1935, 116).

Elder M. Russell Ballard - April 2012 General Conference "That the Lost May Be Found"

Return Us Home

Everyone loses his or her way at some point, to some degree. It is through the promptings of the Holy Ghost‍ that we can be brought safely back onto the right path, and it is the atoning sacrifice of the Savior that can return us home.

Elder M. Russell Ballard - April 2012 General Conference "That the Lost May Be Found"