My oldest daughter, who is 3, is playing rec soccer and I volunteered to coach the team. This past week towards the end of her game she gave me a hug when she was supposed to be kicking the ball and almost started crying because she didn’t want to play anymore. I grew up playing soccer, and I still play when I get the chance, so seeing my daughter not enjoy something that I absolutely LOVE hurts my heart a little bit. And I was thinking about how we must hurt Heavenly Father’s heart when we don’t do things that He loves.
On September 2, I had the opportunity to teach the combined Young Women’s lesson. The focus for the month of September is The Commandments.
I started off by asking the young women what they think of when they hear the word commandments. Then I had the young women list what The Ten Commandments are, and then I showed a trick I learned on my mission to help them remember what they are (signals you do with your hands). Because I felt like 12 to 18-year-old girls know what The Commandments are I decided to take my lesson in a little bit of a different direction, focusing a little on living in the world but not of the world.
I then asked the young women what commandments girls their age struggle with. They told me things like keeping the Sabbath day holy, the word of wisdom, swearing, the law of chastity, etc. So then I passed around a gift, that I told them not to open yet, which was filled with blessings that come from keeping the commandments and I told them that it was their job to convince me that I want this gift. Who doesn’t want blessings? As they tried to convince me that I want this gift I came up with all the excuses I could: “I like going boating on Sundays because all y’all are in church and it’s less crowded, same with shopping. I like drinking my coffee in the morning because it helps me stay awake in school. I like to be able to say what I want when I want, and people think it’s funny. I like being able to hang out with my boyfriend alone so we can kiss and such without people looking at us like we’re gross.” Essentially I told them that the gift wasn’t worth giving up my habits for.
I then shared with them this story…
“This past year some of my friends on Facebook began posting their position on marriage. Many favored same-sex marriage, and several LDS youth indicated they ‘liked’ the postings. I made no comment. “I decided to declare my belief in traditional marriage in a thoughtful way. “With my profile picture, I added the caption ‘I believe in marriage between a man and a woman.’ Almost instantly I started receiving messages. ‘You are selfish.’ ‘You are judgmental.’ One compared me to a slave owner. And I received this post from a great friend who is a strong member of the Church: ‘You need to catch up with the times. Things are changing and so should you.’ “I did not fight back,” she said, “but I did not take my statement down.” She concludes: “Sometimes, as President Monson said, ‘You have to stand alone.’ Hopefully as youth, we will stand together in being true to God and to the teachings of His living prophets.” – Neil L. Anderson (Spiritual Whirlwinds)
And I asked if they had ever been in a similar situation. Some of the young women shared their experiences and we discussed what to do in those situations. And so I want to pose that question to you, what do you do when people you are surrounded by don’t follow the commandments?
We read the next 3 quotes and I kept posing the “What do you do?” question to them after reading each one.
“We don’t hold back to see what the minimum is we can get by with. The Lord requires the heart and a willing mind. Our whole heart! When we are baptized, we are fully immersed as a symbol of our promise to fully follow the Savior, not half-heartedly. When we are fully committed and “all in,” heaven shakes for our good. When we are lukewarm or only partially committed, we lose out on some of heaven’s choicest blessings.” – Gary B. Sabin
President Monson said: “The Savior of mankind described Himself as being in the world but not of the world. We also can be in the world but not of the world as we reject false concepts and false teachings and remain true to that which God has commanded.”
President Harold B. Lee said: “The only safety we have as members of this church is to … learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet. … There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes. … It may contradict your political views … your social views … interfere with … your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, … ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you … and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you …’ (D&C 21:6).”
President Lee was Prophet from 1972-1973. That quote was from the early ’70s. I love how he straight up said you may not like this. I don’t know about you, but I have definitely seen many things people don’t like these days and the opinions they aren’t afraid to share about it. But the blessing he promises if we do what is right is amazing, and isn’t it worth it?
Finally, I had the young women open my gift. I passed it around and had each one pull something out. The items inside were: a picture of my daughters the day that they met in the hospital when my second one was born, a photo of my husband and I the day we were sealed, a photo of the temple, a mini missionary plaque I got from my stake, the scriptures, my Patriarchal Blessing, and a photo of our Savior. We went through each gift and I told them that I rejected each of the blessings that came from those beautiful, treasured moments. I rejected the blessings that were promised to me in my Patriarchal Blessing, from my mission, from being sealed in the Holy Temple, from the scriptures, from having a family, and from my Savior and His Atonement. Can you imagine rejecting such gifts? I can’t.
One reason I had such a hard time on my mission was that I saw people reject these things. I wanted so badly to give them all the blessings of the Gospel, but a lot of them decided there were things they’d rather have instead. And that was so difficult because I knew and still know that they could have so much more. And the same goes for friends and family that I see choose things of the world over things of God today, right now. It makes my heart hurt.
So, again, what do you do? How do you convince people that they want the gift?
One of the young women finally gave me the answering that I was hoping for… you focus on you. Ultimately, you are the only person who you can open this gift for. Everyone else has to decide for themselves. And it’s hard to watch others push it aside knowing what treasures wait for them, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your blessings.
What is stopping you from keeping The Commandments? And is it worth rejecting blessings over? What blessings await you if you would only decide to turn to Him and sacrifice the things of the world?
This is beautiful and so timely. I have seen friends leave the church, just because the church hasn’t changed it’s stance. I struggle understanding them as I know God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and it is the world that changes. I have learned we may love everyone, and not like or even agree with their choices. Acceptance goes both ways and just because I don’t agree with them, doesn’t make me anything but me. You have such a pure heart that cares deeply. The only way I can share with others is to love them, live my life obeying the commandments, and sharing the happiness and blessings I receive by doing so.