On the mission, we would often teach people an analogy that goes something like this: On an airplane, you’re taught that in an emergency, you have to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others with their masks. Why is that? Because without oxygen, you’re not going to be much good to anyone else anyway. They can wait a few more seconds for you to take care of yourself so that you’ll actually be prepared and strong enough to help them. The same goes with life, especially spiritually.
All I’ve ever wanted to do is help to strengthen other people’s faith and testimonies and most of the time, it’s fairly easy because I’ve never had to struggle much with my own. However, in the past month or so, life has gotten a little overwhelming, frustrating at times, stressful and almost painful at certain points. Don’t get me wrong – I love my life and I have nothing to complain about. So what’s wrong with me? Something VERY important to my spiritual, physical and mental health. I’ve neglected my personal relationship with God in my personal scripture study, my personal prayers, my thoughts and my church attendance. I’ve been so focused on getting enough sleep, succeeding in school, and trying to have a smidgen of a social life that my scripture study has only happened because of assignments in my Doctrine & Covenants class, my prayers have become impersonal and rehearsed, and my attendance at church has happened only because I know I need to go. Yes, I’m still doing all of the important things, but I’m not doing them with a broken heart, contrite spirit and with real intent. That means I don’t get much out of any of them and it’s leaving me struggling to keep my head above water.
Mosiah 4:26-27 says:
“And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”
Here, we are taught that we need to repent daily and to serve others both spiritually and temporally. These verses suggest two things to me. First, we can only do as much as we have strength for or we won’t succeed in our endeavors. Second, repentance and service are things that will give us the strength we need to endure and be successful in all that is asked of us.
So what does it mean to repent and serve and why does it give us such strength? Repentance simply means to change our habits in such a way that they will bring us closer to God and Jesus Christ instead of farther away from them. Service is often the best way for that change to happen permanently. As we do both of these things together, they transform us into more Christ-like people and allow us to overcome any challenges that come because we are less wrapped up in ourselves and more interested in what Heavenly Father would rather have us being doing to help all of His children return Home (the ultimate goal – Moses 1:39).
Lately I’ve been trying to do way too many things and it has caused me to neglect the most important things, which in turn, causes me to be unable to strengthen and uplift others in the way I so badly want to do. I’m weaker than I have been because of how I’ve allowed myself to forget about putting on my own oxygen mask first. I haven’t felt like much help to anyone, including myself, these past few weeks and I want to change that, to go back to how I was before – joyful every day, enthusiastic about every aspect of my life, and so filled with the Spirit that I had no doubt about what I was supposed to be doing and the perseverance and diligence to do those things.
So today, I’m holding myself accountable to anyone who reads this (feel free to follow up with me). My goals this week are to strengthen myself by 1) reading my scriptures and pondering them on a daily basis, 2) having sincere prayers every day and asking Heavenly Father one specific question about what He needs me to do that day and 3) preparing myself so that I can worthily and happily take the sacrament next Sunday. I know that if I do these things, I’ll be able to have the Lord’s Spirit with me more strongly and I’ll be more successful in my goals and dreams of succeeding in school and helping the people around me to come unto Christ.