This morning as I was studying my scriptures, I got a pep talk from the Spirit. It’s something I really needed as I’ve been struggling to get back into better habits of daily scripture study, healthier living, serving others, etc. In Helaman 13 (Book of Mormon), a prophet named Samuel was commanded by the Lord to go and cry repentance to a city of wicked Nephites. The first time he went, the Nephites kicked him out. As he was heading back to his home in another city, the Lord commanded Samuel again to go and preach repentance to this city, called Zarahemla. So instead of entering back through the city gates, where he knew he’d just get kicked out again, Samuel climbed up on the city wall and started preaching and saying that they needed to repent or God would curse them. This goes on for the entire chapter and is actually a great one to read and evaluate yourself. Most of us probably aren’t going around and murdering people, but all of us have things we need to repent of and do better with.
Anyway, my pep talk came after I read Helaman 13:25-27, but before I share that, I’m going to explain some things after you read the verses. While you read this, be thinking of yourself and whether or not you have ever done any of these things. And be honest with yourself. I’m not asking you to admit it to the world, or even to anyone but yourself. It reads:
“And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.
Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth – and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.”
This made me think of the world we live in today and how everyone is trying to please everyone else. We keep trying to create words, phrases, laws, etc that allow certain people to live as they please while also restricting the freedoms of others (namely freedom of speech and religion). It’s an impossible game we’re playing at. And in my opinion, it’s because the world refuses to listen to (let alone act on) truth.
Elder Jeffery R. Holland spoke at the April 2014 General Conference about this very topic. His talk was titled “The Cost – and Blessings – of Discipleship”. He said:
“Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.
Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes—and this seems the greatest irony of all—these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of “comfortable” God. Really? He who said not only should we not break commandments, but we should not even think about breaking them. And if we do think about breaking them, we have already broken them in our heart. Does that sound like “comfortable” doctrine, easy on the ear and popular down at the village love-in?”
Elder Holland continues to elaborate on that topic. He teaches us that Jesus Christ, while full of charity and love for the people, was not sent to coddle us and only tell us “Good job!”. Christ was sent to teach us and show us the way we NEED to be living.
Think of this: Put yourself way back in first grade math. The problem on the board is 2+2. You write down 5, because you’re 99% sure that’s what it is. The other 1% is you thinking you might be wrong, but it doesn’t really matter, nor do you really care that much. Why is it THAT important for you to get this problem right? Then your teacher comes to your desk to check and see how you’re doing. What is the role of your teacher? Will she stop and say “2+2=5. Great job, Jimmy!” and allow you to continue in ignorance? Will she say “Jimmy, I’m not really sure that 2+2 is 5, but if you think that’s right, then you’re right”? NO! Of course not. That actually sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
We all know that 2+2=4, not 5. But we know that because we had a teacher (hopefully) who said “Jimmy, I’m so glad you tried this problem! But 2+2 does not equal 5. Let me show you how to figure it out.” And we know now that learning that 2+2=4 is something we need to know to build up to learning algebra, calculus, physics, etc.
This teacher is like Jesus Christ. He is SO happy that we try to get through the problems in life, but He corrects us when we’re not following truth and the way He corrects us is with love. He also doesn’t just tell us the answer. He walks us through the problem to help us understand why we got the answer we got and why we’ll need to know it later. And sometimes we still might not understand it, but if we nod and smile and trust that He’s right (just like I did with most of my math classes), eventually one day, maybe years later, we’ll finally say “Ooooh! I see why that was necessary and true!”
As I evaluated myself after reading Helaman 13:25-27, I realized something else (and here’s where my fantastic pep talk came in): Way too many times do I make the excuse “Oh it’s okay that I’m struggling to reach these goals. It’s just my personality to not want to do these things.” AKA I tell myself that it’s okay to do things wrong because that’s “just who I am”. Proceed to pep talk from God:
STOP. That’s wrong. That is NOT who you are. You are a Daughter of God. You are SO much more than your weaknesses and mistakes. Don’t let Satan trick you into not doing what God wants you to do just because “it’s who you
are tend to be”. You TEND to make mistakes. You TEND to be a human being. It’s HUMAN nature. But it isn’t DIVINE nature. So suck it up and BE DIVINE.
Be Divine. That hit me hard. If we are children of God, we have the potential to be as He is. We have the ability to do what He does some day. And what we learn here on Earth is what we’ll need to know for our eternal lives. So study hard now. Apply what you learn now. We have limitations because of our human nature, but those limitations can be freed if we embrace our divinity.