We Thank Thee, Oh God, For A Prophet

I have two favorite weekends of the year. One is the first weekend in April, and the other is the first weekend in October because it’s General Conference!!! I LOVE hearing words of guidance and encouragement from the leaders of the church. Who couldn’t use a little wisdom every so often?

The Saturday morning session was a very special one because our new Prophet of God was sustained. I watched as President Eyring asked the world to stand and raise their right hand to sustain President Russell M. Nelson, and as I stood, I had an overwhelming feeling of love and knowledge that he is a prophet of God, called to lead us in these modern times.

Leading a church during this day and age can’t be easy. There is so much evil in the world today, but I know without a doubt that President Nelson will lead with love, grace, and inspiration from Heaven.

As I was scrolling through Facebook this evening, I came across a quote that strengthened my testimony of President Nelson even further. It said:

“Speaking of hearts … it’s interesting that you’ve been called to serve as the prophet of the church at this time. Your entire life has revolved around fixing other people’s hearts. Literally. You performed the first successful cardiac operation in Utah and are known around the world as being one of the most important pioneers in the field of cardiology. You repaired a bad heart valve and saved the life of previous prophet and president of the church, Spencer W. Kimball. You know hearts … maybe better than anyone on this earth. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I don’t think so for a minute. Consider the symbolism and imagery involved as we live in a day in which the Lord states that ‘the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them.’ You just happen to find yourself positioned in these last days to help repair those spiritually broken hearts through your teachings, testimony, and love of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”

How incredible is that insight? A man who knows how to literally fix broken hearts is called to help heal our hearts through inspiration and direction from God himself.

Yes, we live in hard times. People are ruthless, circumstances can be unfair, people are dying, and I hesitate to look at the news because there is always something heartbreaking. Our world is in commotion, and men’s hearts are failing them, no question. But how incredibly blessed are we that we have light, hope, and truth if we just turn to God and obey our prophet’s inspired counsel?

I want you to know that if your heart feels broken, you’ve lost all hope, or you feel you’re clinging to a thread, God knows and has felt your pains. He has been there so He could understand and take your burdens upon Him if you just let him into your life. I’ve been lower than I would like to admit, but letting Christ’s light into my life has made a world of difference.

God loves you, knows you, and wants you to be happy. I don’t believe we were put on this earth to be miserable, and I know that we can all find happiness and light through the gospel. It won’t happen overnight and fixing a broken heart takes a lot of faith and patience. But when you let the light of Christ shine through the cracks of your heart and soul, you’ll be better than you ever were before.

*Photo by Cari Osborne Photography

 

 

Dear Senior Girls…You Don’t Have To Serve A Mission

I was a sophomore in high school when our leader and prophet President Thomas S. Monson stood at the pulpit during General Conference and announced that the age was changing for young men and women to serve missions. I distinctly remember hearing the news, texting all of my friends, and feeling excitement and anxiety at the fact that I could have a mission call by the end of my senior year. It felt so surreal.

The announcement came with a flood of excitement from all of my friends. I went to a high school with a super high Mormon population, so everyone was constantly talking about “the age change.” From that day forward, a common topic of conversation was whether or not you were going to go on a mission.

It was a weird position to be in. The guys I was friends with were leaving a whole year earlier than they could before, and girls who probably wouldn’t have thought about serving had a very real decision to make. I had friends all around me who were praying and pondering about whether to serve a mission, and they were getting solid answers. I, on the other hand, would occasionally half-heartedly pray about whether I should go because, in all honesty, I was terrified that my answer would be “yes.”

It’s not that I didn’t want to go and serve my Savior. I love and believe in Him with my whole heart, and if He would have told me to go, I would have served in a heartbeat. The problem was that I felt uneasy, and with most of my friends preparing and planning to go, I felt serious outside pressure to start my papers.

Every time I thought about serving a mission, my stomach tied in knots. I felt so guilty for feeling that way — after all, we’re commanded to give our hearts and service to the Lord. I felt selfish, and there were times when I felt I wasn’t as adequate as some of my friends who were fearlessly moving forward with their decision to serve for a year and a half.

At this point, I was approaching my senior year. I knew I needed to sincerely kneel and pray to figure out if I should serve, but I was still terrified of that “yes.” After months of anxiety, stomach knots, and gentle promptings to “just pray about it already,” I humbled myself and said a simple, sincere prayer to know whether I should serve an 18-month mission.

I felt relief after I prayed, but my answer still wasn’t quite clear. I went about my life, and my amazing bishop counseled me to prepare to serve, even if I didn’t end up actually going on a mission. This gave me so much peace because I knew I would be prepared if I eventually did get that “yes.”

A few weeks passed, and I was reading my scriptures in Doctrine and Covenants. I stumbled across Doctrine and Covenants 11:15-17 and it says:

“Behold, I command you that you need not suppose that you are called to preach until you are called. 

Wait a little longer, until you shall have my word, my rock, my church, and my gospel, that you may know a surety of my doctrine. 

And then, behold, according to your desires, yea, even according to your faith shall it be done unto you.”

I still get teary-eyed when I read those passages in my high school scriptures. Underneath the verses, I wrote, “Mission?” When I read those words as a scared 18-year-old, I felt peace. I knew that the decision was mine to make and that if I waited a little longer, I would know what I needed to do.

About four months later, I met and fell head over heels for a returned missionary, and I knew that my mission at the time was to marry him and spread light right where I was. I felt peace in knowing that I didn’t have to embark on an 18-month mission to be a missionary, and I was thrilled to finally have my answer.

I am forever grateful that I found my answer for myself and that I didn’t give into the outside pressure to go on a mission. For you high school girls trying to make this difficult decision, the choice is between YOU and the Lord. It’s no one else’s choice to make, and if you sincerely pray you WILL know what to do. He may or may not tell you not to go on a mission, and He may or may not tell you to get married. He might just tell you to stay right where you are, and that’s perfectly fine because it’s the Lord’s plan for you. If you sincerely ask and listen for your answer, you will know and be guided to where you need to be.

As I considered my options during my high school years, I came to realize one important truth — and it’s that the most important thing you can do is get to the temple. The temple brings incredible peace and comfort whether or not you’re serving a mission, and the blessings you receive from it will help you in every aspect of your life.

If you decide to serve, that is truly incredible. You’re changing lives, and serving the Lord is what we were put on this earth to do. Missionary work is a sacred responsibility that helps the church to grow. Bringing people into the gospel and giving them the knowledge of eternal life and family is absolutely priceless.

However, if you decide not to serve, you are NOT less of a person. You’re still incredible, and you can still do amazing things right where you are. Share your light and love with all you come in contact with — after all, we’re all here to share the happiness the gospel brings, whether or not we’re wearing a name badge. As long as you’re living the gospel, doing the things you’re supposed to, and keeping the Lord close, you’ll be led to where you need to be. Whether your answer is a “yes” or “no,” never forget that your answer came from the Lord, and He has a divine plan specifically for you.