Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Human Connection

On multiple occasions on my podcast, I believe, and in other conversations, I have mentioned an idea described by Johann Hari in his Ted talk about addiction: the opposite of addiction is not sobriety — it’s connection. If you want to hear his explanation of that, you can do so here; however, I’m not writing this article to talk about addiction. Connection is my point in this. The value of human connection, specifically.

 I write this with an entirely new perspective on that issue, with the passing of my wife, Lorraine, just over a month ago (Oct 25, 2019). Lorraine and I share a connection and a commitment to each other that I have seen in few other couples — let alone friendships or other relationships — in this world. During her mortality, we knew more than each other’s preferences, hobbies, hopes, dreams, testimonies, quirks, and such. We knew each other’s heart so well that on more than one occasion, we got about as close (I imagine) as anyone in this world can get to sharing feelings with each each other without actually opening our mouths. That has changed to a more direct form of spirit-to-spirit communication since she passed, and that certainly has its benefits (as it is easier than doing it from mortal to mortal), but I have learned a few things firsthand now that have helped me understand the value of human connection on an even deeper level.

Honestly, I don’t believe that it is possible to completely understand the full value of things like looking into the eyes of our loved ones, hearing their voices, and experiencing their hugs until those things are taken from us. This is from a journal entry of mine from Sep 2, 2019:

“To be totally honest, I really miss hearing Lorraine’s voice and getting her input on what I’m doing. She can look at me and focus on me, but with the emptiness of her expression, it just looks like she isn’t even understanding a word I’m saying. She can’t lift or even move her fingers, hands, arms, head, or neck. At the moment, all she can do is raise her eyebrows up and down. Sometimes I think she’s doing it to try and communicate, but once every few hours I will notice her doing it for no apparent reason whatsoever, so I’m trying to trust that Heavenly Father is in control and is in all of the final details from the recovery, especially since her most recent [priesthood] blessing she got said she would recover from this [non-verbal, barely responsive state]. But I won’t lie: it has been hard over the last 48 hours. After she opened her eyes a few days ago for the first time in almost a week, my gratitude for being at least able to look her in the eye[s] grew a lot. Now I just wish I could hear her voice again.” 

I’m not sure whether it was more painful to have any ability to communicate with or understand Lorraine taken from me by means of illness or by means of death. A part of me thinks it’s easier in one way because now she can at least communicate with only my spiritual perception limitations as a barrier on her end, but another part of me feels like I would prefer to hear her voice and look into her eyes, even if that means there’s the barrier of mortal language and its limitations with spiritual connection. It’s kind of a happy and a sad trade-off. Either way, I know I’ll be overwhelmed with joy when I can have both of those kinds of connection in their fullness when Lorraine and I can reunite physically.

What I know for sure is that we frequently underestimate the value of deep, beautiful, meaningful, loving, nuanced, face-to-face connections with each other as mortals. In his autobiographical book The Message, Lance Richardson said the following:

“Some of the grandest experiences of my visit [to the Spirit World] were my opportunities to exchange greetings with others. Because in their world, they do not wave ‘hello’ or shake hands; they hug. A spirit can feel another spirit just as we feel flesh to flesh. And so they embrace one another. And when they embrace, an amazing experience occurs. It is as if each spirit can transfer a feeling and synopsis of their life to others. Suddenly one knows and understands another more deeply and thoroughly than could ever be possible through verbal communication. It creates an instant bond of closeness and friendship to build foundations for loving one another more perfectly. Oh, how I missed those hugs when I left.”

In another part of the book, that appreciation was manifested for a form of connection far more muffled by mortality. Lance was in a barely-conscious state, but heard his son — who didn’t know if Lance could hear him — talking about football. When the nurse told his son that he needed to leave for a while, he said, “Dad, I love you. And I am not going to let anything take you away. I promise! I don’t care what happens, I’ll keep you. OK, dad?” Lance was so overcome with emotion himself that he was actually able to cry a single tear, which ran down his cheek. His son’s response?

“‘Dad, we saw that! You cried, you cried!’ he shouted. ‘You really are there!’ Then he paused a moment again, knowing he had to leave. ‘Oh, Dad. I love you so much. Please come back to me.'”

Please, never underestimate any small sign of the beauty of human connection. It means more than you can possible imagine. Lorraine and I experienced almost all extremes of that spectrum, from being able to communicate almost clearly, spirit to spirit, to being limited to mere micromovements. Every last tiny piece of loving, deep connection between us is worth more to me than all the rest of God’s creation combined. It is supposed to be so, and I’m glad it is. God put that intense longing for connection in us and allows us to hurt when it is taken away because it teaches us its sacred, holy, and beautiful nature. It’s why things like charity, forgiveness, kindness, humility, faith, virtue, knowledge — feel free to recite the rest of D&C 4 if you wish — are so important: because they are all ways we can have those healthy connections with each other and with our Father in Heaven.

Nurture them, cherish them, desire them with everyone — and whatever you do, never underestimate them.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

You Are Powerful

There is a meme that floats around occasionally on Facebook that contains a very happy thought, and I saw it again recently in my feed.

Here it is:

 powerful quote

There are quite a few variants of this, but the overall message has both a good and bad part.

The good part is its implication that we are spiritual lightyears away from being anywhere near as powerful as God; therefore, He can do wonders for our good, regardless of our weaknesses. The evidence of this is so staggering and obvious that I feel no need to explain it any further here. However, there is one part of the meme that may cause us to forget how valuable and powerful we are with our gift of agency.

In the six month anniversary episode of my podcast, I mentioned the following: Of all the things that Satan failed to acknowledge in the pre-existence — and this is why his warping of the Father’s plan wouldn’t have worked — there is one thing that is perhaps the most important. It is the fact that even if we were to actually be perfect in every thought, word, intent, and action, if it isn’t accomplished by our own choosing, that internal change that happens when we do choose the right by our own will and choice wouldn’t happen. Even if we had lived a life as perfect as Christ’s, it still wouldn’t have produced the change in us necessary to make us like God — and this is key — if that life is lived by force. Righteous acts absolutely have to be done by our own will and choice, or their eternal efficacy is diluted.

We can each choose our eternal path.

With this in mind, what is the Father’s plan for His children? “To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man[kind]” (Moses 1:39). Eternal life as defined in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to live in exaltation with the Lord forever in family units. That was His plan from the beginning, and we know from the scriptures that many of His children will not choose exaltation.

I’m not suggesting that we are more powerful than God, but that, as I talked about in “Fruits, Not Roots,” God is bound by the laws of justice and mercy, so He cannot violate justice by granting exaltation to those who choose not to repent and therefore do not qualify for the blessings Christ made available to them.

That’s how powerful and valuable agency is. Jesus knew that agency would be a fatal gift for some, but He also knew that any possibility of our being saved from the our weakened mortal condition or becoming like Him could only be brought about if we were able to choose on our own. We of ourselves are certainly not more powerful than God, but because justice prevents Him from exalting those of His children who do not change through repentance, our choices can result in His original plan for us not coming to pass on an individual basis.

Now the interesting irony to this is twofold: You are powerful enough, because of your ability to choose, to distance yourself from God forever, but you are also powerful enough to ensure your own exaltation and therefore “bring to pass… [your] eternal life” alongside Jesus Christ. 

I love Marianne Williamson’s poem where she starts out:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.”

There is a good reason it should both frighten us AND give us immeasurable hope! We are, as has been rightfully parroted for millennia, our own worst enemy, but we can also be one of own greatest allies (Christ being our single greatest ally).

The wonderful part about agency is that it is a powerful gift — and because of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, repentance is one of the ways we are allowed to use that power. It is in that sense that we really do become our own best friend when we side with our Savior by choosing to realign ourselves with Him, utilizing the very power that comes through Christ to draw us back to Him when we’ve messed up.

You really are that powerful! Don’t be afraid of it; be thankful for it! Allow it to be the gift that enables eternal joy with your Heavenly Parents and family. You certainly are not powerful enough to disrupt God’s plan as a whole, but you are powerful enough to either go permanently off course or do things that only bring you everlasting joy because of our Savior. That much is completely within your control.

Friday, October 4, 2019


This article on manliness begins with a few well-researched statistics.

There was a study done a few years back that showed the #1 most common factor in poverty in the United States is a fatherless home. In fact, in the same study, results were gathered for homes with single mothers and single fathers, and in each category, the single-mother homes showed a rate of poverty that was more than 10% higher than in single-father homes and almost double in the ‘never-married’ category.

According to “The $100 Billion Dollar Man,” a study done by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s study, “The most recent data available show that 55.2 percent of WIC [the government’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children program] live in father-absent households.” This same study also revealed that “The most recent survey [2003] of family composition of Head Start households … found that 53.6 percent of Head Start households have a father absent” (emphasis added). For those who don’t know, Head Start is a program run by the Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.

This study also found that 48.2% of the entire budget for the Head Start program has gone to single-mother homes.

A third study, “Drugs, Guns, and Disadvantaged Youths: Co-Occurring Behavior and the Code of the Street” reads, “Analysis of the inmate sample shows absent father to be the only individual-level disadvantage variable significantly explaining drug trafficking, gun carrying, and co-occurring behavior both before and after code-based beliefs variable is entered in the model. Before the inclusion of code-based beliefs, having an absent father made an inmate 279% more likely than inmates living with their fathers to simultaneously deal drugs and carry guns. Including beliefs in the model generated some mediation of absent father’s effects on co-occurring behavior, but after such inclusion, even inmates with absent fathers were 267% likelier than inmates who did live with their fathers to have trafficked drugs and carried guns simultaneously” (emphasis added).

Why do I mentioned these statistics? Firstly, as disclaimer. It’s not to compare men to women or fathers to mothers. Neither role can possibly be more important than the other, according to “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Aside from that, I include those statistics for two reasons. One is echoed in this article: that there is a war on men which is diminishing their self-esteem and their sense of inherent value as sons of God. The more important reason, which I want to make the focus of this article, is why we need more righteous fathers who are good examples of what manliness means so more of God’s children are not a part of those statistics.

I read a Facebook post, if I’m remembering correctly, probably a year or two ago where a single mother wrote about what it was like caring for her son without his father there. To paraphrase what she said, “I can teach my son or my daughter, what it means to be honest, kind, strong, patient, or any other number of virtues that all people, men and women, should have. What I can’t teach him is what it truly means to be a good man, simply because I am not a man. It’s that simple. I can’t teach him how a man should treat a woman, at least not by example, because I am not a man. Do I wish his father would have stuck around for that and been the example he should have been? Of course, but my point here is to emphasize the real value of a man in his child’s life.” 

It went something like that, although the wording is probably different from mine. But the point is the same. In my recent podcast episode with David Warwick, he talked about a situation when people in his immediate family were hurt badly by a neighbor who was physically bigger than him. When he got the call about what happened, his proper fatherly example (something he had prayed to attain) ended up providing an excellent example of what it means to be a peacemaker to his children.

I believe it is completely accurate to say that the value of a righteous father is as incalculable as a righteous mother in their respective different responsibilities.

On one of our family trips up to Piney River Ranch (an amazing place, by the way), I remember spending one Sunday visiting a local ward. At that time, I was an Aaronic priesthood holder. The young men’s organization in that ward was small, so they had to have all the deacons, teachers, and priests meet together in one room. I was somewhat shocked by the cavalier attitude of many of the young men toward their Aaronic priesthood duties, but even more surprised at the Young Men leaders’ lack of example. They ought to have encouraged these young men to know their priesthood duties so well that they could talk about it at a moment’s notice. At that point, the priests quorum in my home ward was reciting the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood.

Let’s see if I can remember them off the top of my head all these years later. (This could be a little embarrassing, but here I go!)

1. Become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live by its teachings.
2. Serve faithfully in priesthood callings and fulfill the responsibilities of priesthood offices.
3. Give meaningful service.
4. Prepare and live worthily to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and temple ordinances.
6. Prepare and live worthily to serve an honorable, full-time mission.
7. Obtain as much education as possible.
8. Give proper respect to women, girls, and children. 

Okay, now I’m going to look them up and see if I got them all right…

It’s a little embarrassing, considering the purpose of this article, that I forgot the one that says “Prepare to become a worthy husband and father.” Hey, it’s been 15 years since I’ve recited those purposes even once, so that’s still not too bad, I guess! (Keep in mind that I’m sure the ward I visited has probably grown and improved over the last 15 years, but the experience is noted to illustrate the good things I was taught about manliness growing up.)

The main point I want to make with this article is this: How on earth can we possibly — and justifiably — expect men to become and be viewed as the good sons, husbands, and fathers we need them to be if we keep pitting women against men (and vice versa)? It ain’t gonna happen unless we learn the view men the way Elder Christofferson taught in his talk, “Fathers“:

David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed: ‘Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.’

Elder Christofferson continues by teaching ways that fathers can dispel this myth by teaching that fathers are meant to “lead out in making [teaching the gospel in the home] a high priority,” “demonstrate what fidelity to God looks like in day-to-day living,” and “lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families.”

I firmly believe that real manliness and true godhood are epitomes of one another and that if we want to see more men become honest, virtuous, holy, masculine, loving sons of God, we need to believe that that is exactly what they can be and encourage them kindly to measure up to that standard. Of course, the term “masculinity” is often biologically indicative of great physical strength and such, but the real measure of manliness is more about wisdom and the ability to know when and how to use that strength — physical, mental or spiritual — to bless the lives of others.

That is true manliness and it will only manifest itself fully in the men we value in our lives when we expect it from them and encourage them to acquire it. Phrases like “Oh, just let them do their dumb guy thing” and “Women are so much stronger than men” are not only untrue, they are some of the most dangerous and corrosive ideas tossed around today by society as whole.

You want to see true manliness in your son, brother, or father? Believe that he can be like that and let it reflect in your actions.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

All the --- Things

This article is a follow-up to “The Small Things Are Not Small.

This article contains a list of things I’m thankful for not because of something that was taken from me, but because I have them at all. I was going to title it “All the Small Things,” but I included the six things in this gratitude list because of blessings we’ve had and extra good things the Lord has given us… So this one’s about being thankful for all the… things, period (see D&C 78:19).

1. The Reminder to Be Thankful in All Things

Even seemingly mundane things like eating, showering, shopping — heck, even paying bills or dealing with bad traffic! — can be an act of thankful worship to God for making those activities possible in the first place. It might seem kind of weird with something that feels so common, like taking a bite of a donut or putting the car in park, to think “Thank you, God, that I am able to do this; that Thou gave me the means to get this food and the body to eat it” or “I thank Thee that Thou blessed me with this car and inspired its inventors to include brakes and mechanisms that allow me to safely park and lock it so I have higher chances of it not being stolen, and have a ride back home to my family.”

Thoughts like this might seem to some like trying too hard, but isn’t that the point, to reach for God with such great force and constant effort that our faith and love for Him becomes so strong He cannot withhold His greatest blessings from us? The reminder to be thankful for everything in and of itself is a sign of His mercy to us.


2. The Still Small Voice

Today I was taught in a gentle way by Heavenly Father about an area I need to improve on. I was reading in Hearing the Voice of the Lord by Gerald Lund and on page 139, it says: 

“…we must take care that we don’t assume that the more direct forms of revelation [visions, supernatural miracles] are of greater value and meaning to us. It is easy to almost covet the more dramatic forms of revelation, thinking that they validate our closeness to the Spirit and therefore our personal righteousness.”

This was a helpful reminder to me to not put more value on those more direct forms of revelation than the less direct forms. What God reveals to us is far more important than how He reveals it. My wife has had experiences with visions. I have not. She has physically seen what it’s like on the other side of the veil. I have not. But, nonetheless, the Lord has still used less direct means to reveal to my heart and mind some things about my future and my life that have been just as mind-blowing and spiritually transformative as what my wife has received, and I am truly thankful for His teaching me about those things. 

3. The Lord’s Correction
Speaking of the correction I received from the Lord through that book, that’s something else I am thankful for: chastisement from Him.

“Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth . . .” (Hebrews 12:6)

“I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.” (Alma 39:7)

I’m reminded of a part from the movie Ratatouille in the conversation between Remy and his dad. Remy’s dad shows him the rat poison and the traps in the window of the store, and the conversation goes like this:

Dad: When all is said and done, we’re all we’ve got.

Remy: No

Dad: What?

Remy: No. Dad, I don’t believe it. You’re telling me that the future is… Can only be more of this?

Dad: This is the way things are. You can’t change nature.

Remy: Change is nature, Dad. The part that we can influence. And it starts when we decide.

Change is most definitely an essential part of God’s plan and almost all of that change is going to mean repenting and fixing what the Lord tells us to fix, with Him helping us along that path. I am thankful for the things He tells me I need to improve in myself, because then I’m aware of how to become more like Him.


4. Scripture
And I’m not just talking about the Standard Works.

“Whatsoever [the Lord’s servants] shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 68:4)

According to this, anything the prophet, apostles, or members of the Seventy teach in general conference, as well as our patriarchal blessings, are also scripture! Drawing on the third point I just mentioned, I am especially thankful for something that the Lord used to correct me that actually came from my own patriarchal blessing.

I am thankful for the reminder He gave me recently to draw upon specific sources for spiritual strength in moments of difficulty. I hadn’t been doing it as well as I should have been, which explains a lot about a few problems that weren’t resolving the way I wanted. Now that He has so kindly reminded me of how I was falling short, I can remedy that problem and, thanks to that reminder from my blessing, I can do what I should be doing to qualify more for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.


5. My Computer 

man writing on computerThe laptop I’m typing this article from was a gift from God. He used creative means over the months my wife has been in the hospital to give us the means to buy it, including one helpful friend who has been such a blessing to Lorraine and I for a long time now. When I look back on how many things the Lord engineered over the last few months to allow us to afford it at the perfect time (since our other one is on its last legs), it’s kind of mind-blowing! Also, I have felt since it came in the mail that this is also a means for me to finish making restitution to God for the times throughout my life that I spent waxing and waning in and out of an addiction that required access to the internet. This is a chance to make this blessing from God purely a tool for the Lord’s work.

6. My Health

I had a friend (a different one than in point five) who recently thought something I said in episode 40 of my podcast was kind of comical. The point I made was that I’m physically very low-maintenance, but the particular phrase she found funny was when I said I’m basically a complicated houseplant with emotions. I only need two good meals a day, four or five hours of sleep per night, and at least one hug, and I’m good to go — and that’s no matter how much physical labor I need to get done. God has blessed me with a high physical stamina. I’m stronger than I look, and I think the last time I got sick enough to be incapacitated for even one day was more than five years ago. I have even jokingly told people that if my wife and I could switch immune systems, she’d probably heal from everything naturally in a month. My health has truly been a huge blessing from the Lord.


7. Being Born in This Dispensation 

When President Nelson said “Time is running out” in January, I’m sure there were varied reactions, from a mild “Oh, wow!” to great fear to utter joy and gratitude. Mine was the mostly the latter and the reason is because I know the closer we get to His coming, the more temporal and spiritual examples we will have to look to for what it means to truly be guided by the Holy Ghost constantly. I need that. It’s one of the reasons I asked my mom to buy me the book Hearing the Voice of the Lord by Gerald Lund for my birthday.

The counsel we get in the scriptures is 100% on point. I have found greater ability to recognize and follow the Spirit’s guidance better the more I am “submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love,” etc. (see Mosiah 3:19)… And look at all the resources we have to help us with that! Another quote from Tad R. Callister tells us:

“The Lord must expect much more of us in gospel scholarship than he did of previous generations, because we have so much more at our disposal.”

Living in the time period we do has been a huge comfort to me in the last few years and I am so, so thankful to God that He let me live now!

Kevin Clayson had a lot to say about gratitude in episode 19 of my podcast, “Stepping Into Freedom,” and I have personally found that following the advice he gave really does work! Being thankful for absolutely everything really is worth it!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Earning Vs. Qualifying

There are many ideas in the gospel that are easy to misunderstand if not approached with Christ’s Atonement in context. I was recently reminded of one of those principles. Ever since the Lord helped me understand the difference between earning and qualifying for blessings, I have been extra careful in how I speak of where, how, and why blessings from God come the way they do.

King Benjamin preaching to his people

To begin, I’ll start with a few scriptures and an everyday situation (in that order). The first scripture is found in King Benjamin’s speech.
  • "20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
    21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
    22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you. (Mosiah 2:20-22)"
Much of what the scriptures can teach us are in what they do not say—in this case, what verse 22 does not say. It doesn’t say, “therefore, because ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.” It says “if,” suggesting a simple matter of cause and effect. However, the cause for our receiving blessings is not  our obedience, which is supported by King Benjamin’s words. It might be tempting to say this contradicts Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21, but even in those verses it does not use the word “because.” It says “…when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” [emphasis added]. I have learned to appreciate specific prepositions much more in the last year in the scriptures.


Christ’s sacrifice is a gift we will never “earn” on our own.

I believe that little word by could also be put “by means of”; and the if in Mosiah 2 could be accurately supplemented with because of Christ’s Atonement. I’ll explain using that everyday situation I said I would talk about.

Let’s say a man named Jimmy works hard all day at a Fortune 500 company and has to deal with hard things and annoying situations, but chooses to respond in a Christlike manner anyways. When his paycheck comes, he feels entitled to it because he did the work needed to earn it. It’s his hard-earned money, especially because he did it with a good attitude, right? I think King Benjamin would disagree, because he taught that everything we receive, no matter the means of our receiving it, comes from God. Everything in this world was given to us by God. But what about the big gifts, the ones we got with no effort on our own in this life, like our agency? Did we not earn those by choosing the Lord’s plan in the pre-earth life? 

Not quite. This is where qualifying comes in. Speaking of our character, Jimmy, let’s say he has a secretary named Don. Don also works hard for his paycheck and also does it with a good attitude. Where Jimmy budgets well, prays with his wife about important purchases, and is a good steward over the money he gets from his job, Don feels that because he earned his paycheck, he alone should get to determine how he spends it. He doesn’t always make the best choices with his money, but he does still provide well enough for his family and doesn’t necessarily squander it all on useless things. Both Jimmy and Don worked the same for their money, but even though both “earned” their money, which of them is truly qualified as a person to receive it? Which of the two has grown into the gift of monetary income that God has blessed them with, as opposed to just following mankind’s laws enough to receive it? The answer, of course, is Jimmy.

I sometimes think of the blessings of eternity as a big coat that Christ gives us that is far, far too big for us. It’s something that He bought for us with His own life and atoning sacrifice. If anyone earned the blessings we receive, it was Him. He bought that coat of eventual exaltation — godhood — and gave it to us knowing that all of us have the potential to grow into it, and then He taught and showed us how to do it. He has bought and earned each of us one of those coats. He paid the entire price for it. If we don’t grow into it, if we don’t qualify for the blessings of eternity by having our very hearts and natures permanently changed to celestial condition, giving those blessings to us will only do more harm than good. If it wasn’t for Christ’s atoning sacrifice, agency would have been spiritually fatal for us, whether we had earned it or not, no matter how many good deeds we could rack up. The good we do assists us in the process, but it isn’t the same thing as qualifying.

Qualifying for something feels better than earning it, anyways. I remember buying a pair of sunglasses as a teenager and the guy at the cash register asked me, “Are they yours?” echoing the idea I had heard my brothers talk about that “fashion standards” dictate that everyone has one pair of shades that specifically suit them. That might be kind of a pointless idea from an eternal perspective, but the principle stands true for every blessing we receive from God, including even our agency.

Jesus’ Atonement was to pay the price even for that, because if we had been given that gift straight up, we would never have grown into it or qualified for it. It would have been the very reason we would have been lost and separated from God forever. We didn’t earn it and the only people who will qualify for unlimited use of agency forever are those who grow into it properly by using it correctly. To qualify is far better than to earn. We can’t actually earn anything in this life, and even if we could, if we haven’t qualified for it — if we haven’t become the kind of person who is a perfect fit for any blessing we receive — it won’t even be truly worth having anyways.

Christ earned every blessing He gives you. The only way to have true, lasting peace in this life and the next is to qualify for them. Does the “coat” of celestial, eternal life fit you? It’s shrink-proof and will never get smaller in the wash, so the only way to qualify for it is by growing into it.

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Small Things Are Not Small

For us adults out there, as we grew up, I’m sure we all heard our parents tell us to be grateful for the small stuff in some way or another. It’s something we all know we should do, because, as the lyrics to Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” say, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”

Every time my wife goes through something that robs her of yet another basic human function, it reminds me to be grateful that I can still do that thing. In the following message, most of the details I will relate are things which have occurred in the last few years. Here are seven things for which, having watched my wife be deprived of, I have come to be more grateful for than I ever expected.

1. Two Legs That Work

Lorraine hasn’t always been deprived of this. She learned to walk when she was four because of many complications surrounding her birth in addition to physical abuse and neglect. Even still, she was able to walk with leg braces and crutches for most of her growing-up years. It was only when the pressure ulcers on her feet and legs began to show up on top of the lymphedema in 2010 that her ability to walk began to be severely (and slowly) impacted.

As of Fall 2017, my wife lost all ability to bear weight on her feet when her leg broke in — wait for it — the hospital. That’s a story for another day, but ever since, I have been extra thankful that I can just stand up anytime I want to go anywhere I want. There are still limits on when and where I can go because of Lorraine’s needs and how often I need to be around to help her, but you get the idea. At this point, at least until the Lord’s promise to heal her completely is fulfilled, her legs are of no purpose to her except as a source of pain. I am beyond grateful that mine still work perfectly fine.

2. My Voice

This is something else that has been taken from my wife multiple times. The most emotionally difficult part for her, I’m sure, is how much she loved to sing her whole life (and is really good at it). I mean, she was really good. In the last three years, doctors have had to put a breathing tube down her throat at least three times (though probably more), which also included a feeding tube so she can still get nutrients. Imagine the frustration of being awake, alert, and aware, but not being able to say a single word because the is no physical way for you to speak. You try to use your hands but you’re so tired that all you can do  is sit there… And if no one is looking in your direction and you need an itch scratched or you just want something simple like sunshine in the room, you have no way of getting anyone’s attention. That very situation with Lorraine has made me so much more grateful for my voice and is one of the reasons I now use it to try and do as much good as I possibly can.

3. My Arms and Hands

The power of the gospel is that it makes “bad men good and good men better.”

In the last few months, Lorraine has become so weak and has lost enough muscle mass (according to a recent CT scan) that even when she is alert and awake, she has great difficulty moving her hands and arms. Lorraine used to play piano at a grade 10 level. She was really good and our shared love of piano music was one of the reasons (though a less important one) why we fell in love. I’m so grateful that I can still practice piano on a somewhat regular basis.


4. Hugs
Speaking of my arms, this one is big for me. My top two love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. We were always hugging and horsing around in my family growing up, so one of the biggest emotional challenges for me since Lorraine’s health started declining is how little I get to be physically close to her. (Being physically close can be very painful and/or overwhelming for her.) It can be emotionally empty and lonely, so every hug I get these days from those who I can appropriately hug is, in every sense, more valuable to me than all the money and possession the world could ever offer.

5. Meaningful Conversation

men talking friendsAnd I’m not just talking about discussing and rejoicing about the important things in life or venting to someone who is willing to listen. I’m talking about having the deep, meaningful conversations with people who really do see eye to eye with you on more subjects than anyone else and can empathize with you (or at least wants to) from more angles than anyone else. 

Of course, no one has seen all the thousands of intricate details we’ve suffered through — and been blessed with! — like the two of us (and the same applies the other way around as well), but every moment of meaningful conversation with anyone who can empathize with even a few of the deeper things (bad or good) that the Lord has lead us through is, as the apostle Peter put it, “much more precious than of gold that perisheth.” This is especially true for me since one of my love languages is words of affirmation.


6. The Ability to Open My Eyes Every Morning and Look Into the Eyes of Those I Love
I’ve became much more thankful for this in the last week. Lorraine’s lymphedema has gotten better and worse depending on what kind of treatments she has been on with her health. During her latest hospital visit, she had to go on dialysis more than once because of kidney infections. When they are doing the kind that is supposed to also remove fluid, her swelling goes way down — but every time her swelling with lymph has gone down, it always comes back either a touch worse or spreads to a new area of her body.

This last week it came back in her actual eyeballs and rendered her awake and aware (though unable to speak or eat) but stuck in a world of blackness where she could hear people and feel nurses’ and doctors’ hands on her when examining, doing scans/tests/etc, without even being able to see what was going on because it was too painful to open her eyes. August 31st was the first time in probably three or four days that she could open her eyes for a split second and I was able to look into them. She has been completely in the dark.

7. People Who Understand and Can Empathize

Wifi has been the only connection I’ve really had with anyone outside of the hospital. No one at our apartment building has any clue what’s going on with Lorraine, so when I told one lady in the elevator the other day that things were “a little tough” and she replied, “Oh, I totally understand what you’re going through,” I almost laughed. (Darn that mortal weakness of mine!) The thing is, I don’t expect anyone to understand except God and I’m not upset when they don’t, but I get frustrated when someone who hasn’t the slightest actual clue in the multiverse what we’re going through tries to tell me they understand.

Those who ask questions to try and understand better, pray for us, don’t give unsolicited advice (or at least don’t automatically expect us to follow it), and do things like bring nice snacks and little gifts on occasion and hang around and talk with an understanding heart (whether they actually understand our circumstances or not) are the people who mean more to me than they can possibly imagine. They are always like a balm of Gilead to my soul. They are the ones that help remind me why I keep trying every day.

To be honest, I do feel a bit selfish that it took this much for me to see the true value in things money can’t buy, but now that I see it better than ever before, I don’t plan on ever taking those not-so-small things for granted ever again. Those are really the biggest miracles in life.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Total Immersion

My circumstances for the last 10 years have been pretty unique. God has put me in a place that has allowed me to learn some pretty cool lessons, via both harrowing experiences and glorious, revelatory, spiritually delicious ones.

If you’ve read any of my previous articles on LDS Blogs, on my personal blog, or heard any episodes of my podcast, you’ll know that my wife struggles with many, many different health issues. In the just over 10 years of our marriage, that has put me in the position of 24/7 caretaker, nurse, cook, housekeeper, shopper, secretary, and more — so the learning curve there has been quite the course in “sink or swim.”

With that in mind, one of the greatest spiritual gifts God has blessed me with is an unrelenting and unyielding charity and loyalty to those whom I love most. I’m not always perfect at it, but I haven’t found the emotional capacity to even think about giving up altogether.

Satan has worked hard to try and exploit that trait and has thrown really heinous, evil temptations to which he knows I’m especially susceptible in an effort to make me put that focus and loyalty into those evil practices. I imagine him, in a temper tantrum, saying, “Fine! If I can’t get you to abandon the people you love, I’ll make you do things that make others want to abandon you!” But I recently was shown in different ways by two different people how important it is to do more than just punch back.

I started my podcast partially in an effort to ramp up the amount of light I was using to displace the darkness that occurred when the adversary tried to put those awful thoughts and feelings in my mind and heart. The other motive was to help others find spiritual nuggets to overcome the same weaknesses I myself was trying to fight. Then, recently these two people who helped me with a major perspective shift impressed on me the importance of doing more than just fighting back on my own. I had to respond to every one of the adversary’s individual attacks with, relatively, an overabundance of light. I had to proverbially respond too what feels like his dementor attacks with this each and every time:

…And it’s so refreshing!

Total immersion in the gospel is the only thing that will win out against our greatest weaknesses. As I recently read in The Miracle of Forgiveness:
“In connection with repentance, the scriptures use the phrase, “with all his heart” (see D&C 42:25). Obviously this rules out any reservations. Repentance must involve an all-out, total surrender to the program of the Lord. That transgressor is not fully repentant who neglects his tithing, misses his meetings, breaks the Sabbath, fails in his family prayers, does not sustain the authorities of the Church, breaks the Word of Wisdom, does not love the Lord nor his fellowmen. A reforming adulterer who drinks or curses is not repentant. The repenting burglar who has sex play is not repentant. God cannot forgive unless the transgressor shows a true repentance which spreads to all areas of his [or her] life.”

I wonder if many out there might protest this idea from President Kimball by invoking the idea from the Doctrine and Covenants that any blessing we get (or don’t) from God is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated (or lack thereof). 

I don’t think President Kimball’s quote necessarily disagrees with that doctrine. I think the idea behind his quote is simply that if we truly want to change our disposition to do evil, the way we do that is not by replacing one sinful behavior with another one. Our commitment to do an about-face from sin and put ourselves in total immersion in the gospel has to be absolute and permanent change.

Does being repentant have to mean I never commit another sin again? I don’t think that’s what President Kimball would have us believe. Rather, the message is that we at least have to turn with a much stronger zeal towards the spiritual than we did before we got entangled in sin in the first place. If simply returning to our previous level of spirituality actually constituted a sufficient effort, I would think we would never have fallen to said sin in the first place.

As Tad R. Callister says in The Infinite Atonement:

“The Savior’s plunge into humanity was not a toe-dipping experience. It was a total immersion. He did not experience some pains and not others. His life was not a random sampling, a spot audit; it was a total confrontation with and internalization of every human experience, every human plight, every human trial.”
If Christ’s experience was an all-in plunge into the whole of human experience, why should our plunge back into the ocean of the light of the Lord be any less if we are truly repentant? A mighty change of heart naturally requires a mighty change of lifestyle and the things that we want most from moment to moment.

I can tell you from personal experience that every effort I have made over the last 10 years to make my immersion in the Lord’s light has been more rewarding that I could have ever imagined. By creating spiritual habits, my gospel immersion has become more absolute and all-encompassing.

Try it. You won’t regret it!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Face the Fear That Keeps You Frozen

Asperger’s syndrome for me means dealing with communication difficulties, especially when people use idioms, generalize, make assumptive statements, or ask assumptive questions. I believe that none of us, myself included, ever says exactly—I mean EXACTLY—what we mean while being tactful at the same time. I have always tried really hard, however, to do exactly that because of how many times I have been misunderstood. Therefore, learning to interpret what people really mean, as opposed to the words they speak, has always been difficult for me. That’s just part of my communication weakness.

I recently realized a way that Heavenly Father has helped lead me to a place in my life where I am well on my way to finally overcoming that weakness—and it was absolutely NOT in a way I expected. I didn’t even realize until a few days ago that it’s been a process He started with me more than five years ago. Then again, does God’s help ever come in a way we expect?

When I first got married, I was super confident that the next thing I needed to do with my life was continue to develop my strengths and talents—and that wasn’t a bad goal. God did want me to do that and made it more than possible to do so. Thanks to the kindness and help of family and friends, I was able to pursue an attempt at further education in web design and development, and started my own business with it. I loved programming and was good at it—and for a while, it worked. I had a few clients and was able to hone my skills even more with the work I did. However, without the sufficient support of others who were still miles ahead of me in the field, I soon  fell further behind than I realized in respect to web standards. So I pursued the one other thing I knew I was better at than anything else: music.

I pursued that field with a vigor that only people with my laser focus can muster. I studied and practiced really hard for a few years in hopes that I’d be able to find a sponsor or do a fundraiser to help me pay for exams through the Royal Conservatory of Music when I was ready to go. It was about the time that I had enough theoretical knowledge and almost enough practice to make it happen when Lorraine’s (my wife) health brought those efforts to an abrupt halt. It was so bad that focusing on completing those exams became totally unmanageable. Since then, I have had to make my role as her caretaker my number one priority (aside from the obvious role I have as her husband).

I was and still am able to get decent piano practice in and have continued to write music since then, but I haven’t been able to give those endeavors the attention I would like to because of more important responsibilities. As things have turned out, that’s exactly the way the Lord wanted things to be! I’m sure He knew that by drawing my attention away from pursuing a technology or music career, He would be able to divert my efforts to blogging. In 2013, with all the difficulty my wife and I had been through, our problems became stacked so high and so deep that blogging to (at first) see who cared to listen to my spiritual musings was the last outlet I had to deal with everything. That motive quickly changed to something more selfless once I got a following on my personal blog and realized the good I could do if I wrote for others instead of myself.

The irony to my continuous blogging was that my biggest weakness, communication (especially about sensitive or controversial topics), was now the very thing I was pursuing most besides my Savior and my wife. I noticed that the process was, as with any weakness, something I got a little better at over time. My first blog post was quite poorly written, but over the next five years and more than 100 articles, I did get better at it.

When I decided to start my podcast, which you can find here, I had no idea what I was doing aside from what I’d heard others do in their podcasts. AlI I knew was that I wanted to go outside of my own voice and take the incredible, mind-blowing, edifying kinds of conversations my wife and I have had with so many people we’ve come to know and love and make conversations like that public so more people could be edified by them. I thought maybe, just maybe, some of the gloriously soul-changing things Lorraine and I have witnessed, or at least the joy we have felt from them, could be carried to more people than I could reach by using my voice alone.

So each conversation I have with my guests is, a) more practice at changing my biggest weakness into a strength, and b) a way to do more good for more people.

I do find it somewhat amusing that it took ten years of marriage for me to see what the Lord really wanted me to focus on, but it’s no surprise to me now that it meant I had to, as the lyrics to Lindsey Stirling’s song “Something Wild” say, “face the fear that keeps [me] frozen.”

The joyful thing about that is that now my fears of failure and being ignored because of my past habitual tactlessness has grown into a level of confidence I never thought I would have (and didn’t realize I had gained until a few days ago).

Is not the process of repentance and eventual perfection a matter of confronting our weaknesses and deliberately facing them so we can shed the natural man? Becoming godly was never supposed to be easy and I now have one more reason to rejoice in the genius of how God can engineer our lives using mainly hard things to help eradicate our weaknesses.

Hard things that God asks us to do aren’t something to fear—they are things to face head on, saying “Challenge accepted!” With Christ, all things are possible.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Fruits, Not Roots

I have been messaged by two people recently who either stopped believing God’s prophets, lost faith in the truth of His Church, or just stopped believing in God entirely based on the behavior of past prophets and the more transparent Church history we now know about. I’m not going to try to resolve any of their specific concerns here, but something came to mind as I spoke to both of these people; something that I have seen as a recurring theme with possibly everyone in their situation.

Each individual (more than just those two, of course) who has expressed their frustration, doubt, or disbelief in the restored gospel because of Church history has unintentionally brought the following phrase to my mind:

Don’t get so focused on the roots of the church that you forget the fruits of the church.

I pondered to myself what I would say if the Spirit directed me to offer my thoughts to these people, even just to help them understand why I believe, if not help them rekindle the fire of their faith. Each point really boils down to that phrase: focus on the fruits, not the roots.

Here are three points that I might use as a reminder why it’s not worth giving up faith in the Lord’s Church, let alone the existence of God, because the way a tree was planted seems off to us. God planted it; it’s not up to us to tell Him how He should have done it. It’s our job just to receive the fruits with gratitude, faith and worship.

Each point is based on a question I have actually been asked or a reason I have been given by such people explaining why they no longer believe.

“There’s some things early Church leaders did that are really bad. Why can’t I judge the personal conduct of a man who claims to speak with God?”

Because we are commanded not to judge anyone, period, by the Son of God Himself. Even Church leaders. Only Christ can judge whether the conduct of others renders them unable to receive revelation for the world. When the Holy Ghost witnesses in the hearts of the listeners that modern day prophets are indeed the mouthpiece of the Lord, that’s all we should need. Judging their supposed actions isn’t just focusing too much on the roots—it’s tantamount to looking at them through a microscope, which is drastically outside of our rights of stewardship.

I like to think of witnesses from the Holy Ghost as Tad R. Callister summarizes this situation in a court room.

“Some years ago my father, who was an attorney, was trying a lawsuit.  For his authority, he cited only one case – an old California Supreme Court case, issued many years before. His opponent cited a number of lower court decisions of much more recent vintage. The judge finally said to my father: “Mr. Callister, don’t have have a more recent case than this?” My father looked at the judge and replied: “Your honor, may I remind you that when the Supreme Court speaks on a matter, it only needs to speak once.” The judge nodded with approval. He was reminded that the Supreme Court trumps all lower court decisions, however numerous or recent they may be.  So it is with God our Father – He only needs to speak once on the issue of morality, and that one declaration trumps all the opinions of the “lower courts,” whether uttered by psychologists, counselors, politicians, friends, parents, or would-be moralists of the day” (Tad R. Callister, “The Lord’s Standard of Morality,” BYU-Idaho Devotional, January 2013).

Not only do we not have the right to judge them, we don’t even have enough information and context to make such judgments about them or anyone else. As some have said, “God has the numbers” to everything and we just don’t. That’s all there is to it.

As Elder Holland said, “Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we.” One read through Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon illustrates this point further, especially verse 22. 

“But there are things we know now that prove that the Church withheld the whole truth about important details of Church history! What about the Article of Faith that says we believe in being honest?”
Did you know that there’s a higher principle than truth? Dr. John Lund said the following in his book, Without Offense: The Art of Giving and Receiving Criticism: “[T]here is a higher and nobler principle than truth: it is to edify.  The Lord has said, ‘and that which does not edify is not of God, and is darkness.’ (D&C: 50:23)” (pg. 35)

Note that the Lord did not put a qualifier on that last statement, which means that if the truth does not edify, it should be withheld. You wouldn’t fault the Lord for withholding the long list of ancient records that we still don’t have (i.e. the full Jaredite record, the names of the Three Nephites, the book of Lehi, etc.), including those of all the missing prophets mentioned in the Bible. That’s His prerogative, not ours. There are some truths the Lord deliberately withholds from us because it would fly so starkly in the face of everything we understand that it would only cause us spiritual damage and offense. As Joseph Smith said to a group of Saints, “Brethren, if I were to tell you all I know of the kingdom of God, I do know that you would rise up and kill me.” Regardless of Joseph’s actions and personal life, the truths the Holy Ghost taught through Him produced the most incredible and long-lasting change in the hearts of men that the world has ever known. It’s far more useful to focus on those fruits than on the semantics of personal sins (or rumors of such sins) of the mortals who God used to plant them.

The Lord even commanded Abraham to lie to Pharoah about who his wife really was. If you look at the Old Testament Institute Manual in the section about Genesis 12:10-20, you will see that in proper context, the situation was much different than it appears at face value.

Another thing to consider with this idea is what Brother Callister also said about what we might call the “razor’s edge” God walks.

“There are certain laws of the universe [justice and mercy] that are immutable, that are without beginning of days or end of years. They were not created by an intelligent being, nor are they the product of moral thought, rather they are eternal, co-existent realities with the intelligences of the universe. These laws are immutable in that they cannot be altered or modified in any form. They unchangeable from eternity to eternity. They are self-existing, self-perpetuating laws to which even God himself is subject.” (Tad R. Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 300)

This isn’t to say that God isn’t all-powerful, but that the reason He IS all-powerful is because He has mastered those laws. He knows what will and will not satisfy both of those laws. He knows when and how certain commandments should be applied, and when they will edify and when they will not. We simply do not know these things. You can read more about this idea here. Also, that concept becomes clearer the more you consider how many times the Lord surprises us with how effectively He can use weak, mortal efforts to accomplish greatness. (Remember how the Lord used the loaves and fishes in the New Testament?)

“I still find it hard to believe that this is God’s Church because if He is the same ‘yesterday, today and forever’ and doesn’t show a ‘shadow of changing’ why is the Church changing so much? It’s too hard to keep up with!”
You have to remember that the Church isn’t an end, it’s a means to an end. Referring back to the idea of balancing justice and mercy, God gives us commandments, yes, but those commandments are meant to serve certain edifying purposes at different times. That’s why He could command Nephi to kill Laban, and the Israelites to “utterly destroy” the people in their promised land so they could inherit it. In each case, all parties involved were more edified by a circumstantial command to take the life/lives of another. Yes, sometimes the Lord uses His more righteous children to end the life of others because it’s actually more merciful to release them from mortality so that they don’t heap up any more judgement on their own heads. 

Because the Church is simply a means to an end—namely, our exaltation—and because we are supposed to change more every day, it only makes sense that the church’s policies and programs continue to change to elevate our manner or worship and the way we live (which should be worshipful anyways). Once the ends are achieved, the means will become obsolete. When President Nelson said we’re running out of time, I felt quite strongly that it was a command from Heavenly Father to change faster than we think we can; to forgive and let go of anger, grudges and hurt more completely and quickly; to serve more willingly; to give more time than we think we have to the Lord and trust that He will magnify our efforts for the rest of it (again, fishes and loaves).

The world wants us to think that changing to become like God is contrary to our nature, but to quote Remy in the movie Ratatouille, “Change IS nature.” We are supposed to change so that we have “no more [desire] to do evil,” including, as we get closer to the Lord’s Second Coming, things that perhaps we don’t even know are evil yet.

In conclusion, believe me: I know those kinds of changes are more easily said than done. But like something I actually talked about in a recent podcast episode, the Lord has been trying to tell us for a long time now that exaltation and the changes required to attain that, even as monumental as they seem, are more possible than we can comprehend—and He would know. He planted the tree.

Just remember to look to the fruits of the Church more than the roots. The roots are there to make the growing of the fruit possible, but they are, like the Church itself, just a means to an end: our eternal happiness.

Saturday, April 13, 2019


One of my greatest difficulties communicating with Asperger’s syndrome has to do with how deeply and powerfully I feel (emotionally) and the seemingly formless amoeba of ideas in my head that I struggle to put into some semblance of spoken language. This becomes particularly challenging when I’m trying to find the right word to express something. More often than not, adjectives like amazing, huge, beautiful, horrific, painful and difficult are pathetic and almost insulting when compared to the magnitude of what I really think and feel.

My wife has suggested that this difficulty of mine actually comes to me because I have true charity, but don’t know how to harness it properly yet. I was told in my patriarchal blessing that charity would be my most used spiritual gift, so I do believe that my feelings reflect that gift of the Spirit, but that I haven’t “grown into it” yet.

But the main point I want to make with this has to do with things prophets have expressed as paramount concerns in our lives. I’m talking about things like studying the Book of Mormon daily, working hard at building our relationships, families and homes, and learning to develop the gift of discernment. Much of that has to do with the idea expressed in this quote from Visions of Glory by John Pontius (pg. 65):

“…anytime Christ descends and speaks to a mortal, it is so weighty with meaning that mere words cannot convey the fulness of the truths given. The message is layered. First are the words He speaks, and then there is a vastly larger body of truth you receive spiritually, layer upon layer, more truth than you can understand for years afterward. One small moment in the presence of the Savior can last for a lifetime.

This is the reason the scriptures are so powerful, because they contain the words spoken by Christ, and this layered truth is still there, spiritually interwoven with those words. It takes a lifetime of spiritual growth and obedience to be able to receive the deeper layers. They are truly there, and they contain the great mysteries and greater truths He desires that we acquire and enjoy in our lifetime” (p. 65).

Those spiritual layers aren’t just in the scriptures, but in everything Christ created, including us. Everyone has those spiritual layers to them. Everyone has all the minute, nuanced details of our thoughts, feelings, desires, experiences and beliefs written in layers into every fiber of our being. All of this information is forever woven into our very sinews, so as John Pontius says at another point in his book, Christ can literally read us like a book.

I have pondered on this idea for a long time and wished and longed and yearned and desperately desired the ability to do that.

If you’ve seen Ender’s Game, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say this, but there’s a part where Ender wonders if, instead of attacking their alien “enemies,” there’s not a more diplomatic solution. Since they can’t speak English and their communication is more telepathic, Ender wonders, “What if we could communicate with them? What if we could… you know… think to them? What if they could think to us?”

Obviously the Lord’s plan for me has not yet allowed me to have telepathic or empathic abilities. However, something like that would be so helpful for me to dig through all the spiritual, emotional and mental layers of those I love so I could communicate more the true nature of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences completely and accurately.

A specific example of the true force, sanctity, and power of being able to dig into deep spiritual layers is illustrated in Tad R. Callister’s book The Infinite Atonement when he writes about the angel who came to minister to Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yes, I know I reference that book a lot, but there’s just so much good stuff in there! Here’s the quote:

“What divine messenger offered such aid? … Certainly at such a critical moment in the destiny of man, this angel must have been a being of towering stature [spiritually]. [The Angel] could not take the Savior’s place … but what he could do, he no doubt wanted to do. Perhaps he was there to console him, to comfort him, to support him, maybe even to bless him. The scriptures are silent as to the nature of the exchange between Christ and his angelic visitor. No doubt this was one of the those moments so sacred it was not to be recorded in the annals of man. Evidently certain thoughts of the [S]pirit are so lofty, so poignant, that thee cannot be reduced to the oral language or written word of man. They simply defy mortal expression. Surely this was one of those moments” (p. 123-124).

The process of transcending mortal language to be able communicate on such a higher level and discern those spiritual layers is actually—believe it or not—a gift we can have right now. I won’t claim that it is easy to attain to such a high spiritual stature. Such “Zion-esque” abilities take time, immense righteous sacrifice, and personal spiritual capacity to develop. However, according to John Pontius in his other book, The Triumph of Zion, we still may not have to wait until then to get to that point. 

“Do we, as individuals, have the authority to pursue a personal place in Zion? For nearly two centuries most of us have left the future of Zion in the hands of the latter-day Church with no sense of personal responsibility other than faithful membership. Is it even appropriate for us to adopt a personal quest to obtain a Zion stature when the Church says little about this aspect of the latter-day Zion? Even if it is within our reach, is it within our calling and our privilege to do this? Can we just march up to the veil and purchase a seat on a bus that the Lord apparently mothballed some 160 years ago?

I believe the answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes! The first reason is that the bus to Zion was not mothballed, it was merely given a more personal destination. The second reason for so believing is that the Lord is no respecter of persons. Anyone who obeys the laws of Zion must, by divine justice, be given the blessings of Zion—”even to as many as believe on my name” (JST Genesis 14:29)—regardless of whether it is time for Zion to exist as a city or not” (p. 173).

Can you imagine how amazing that would be? Imagine how much contention we could avoid if we could simply see… er… feel into another persons heart spiritually. Think about how much easier it would be to refrain from passing judgement on people and holding grudges if we could instantly understand the whole context of someone’s words or actions. We could become one so much faster! And as the Savior said, “. . . if ye are not one, ye are not mine.” Of course, we should still stop judging and holding on to grudges either way, but one day mortal language and communication will no longer be stumbling blocks. Why not make that day sooner than later?

I don’t know about you, but I fully intend to work towards that goal. I have complete faith that the ability to comprehend all the spiritual layers of those I love can be mine just as soon as I find within myself the will to make whatever sacrifice is necessary to reach such a goal. Why not you, too? I say go for it!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Penlight to the Sun

The original reason I started blogging was kind of selfish at first. I had given a talk on agency back in… 2013 I think? You know how it goes with talks — you often get more out of preparing it than perhaps the congregation gets out of your giving it. And that’s what happened for me, but I thought, “I don’t want this to stop. I need more of this influence from the Spirit.”

Obviously I couldn’t give a talk every week, so instead I just decided to write down whatever I felt inclined to dig into for my own spiritual well-being and put it out there for whoever cared to read it. After a while, it got to the point where I was writing more with a sincere desire to actually do some good for others: perhaps my words would brighten someone’s day, get people thinking about their own spiritual standing, or help them in finding ways to overcome major burdens.

My thoughts here veer back towards looking for… just… pure spirit food; a useful reminder for myself and perhaps a refresher or new perspective for others, and as I prayed to know which direction I should take for that purpose, a little voice in my head said, pure and simply, “talk about your Savior.” So this time my thoughts are based on this quote from Tad R. Callister’s book The Infinite Atonement.

Those who have belittled the Savior’s sacrifice as no superhuman feat, because others have been so crucified and died so “nobly,” have forgotten the moments in the Garden. The physical pain of the cross alone, when compared to the accumulated pain of the Garden and the cross, was as a penlight to the sun. Perhaps the cross was chosen because the Savior wanted us to know he had endured man’s greatest form of inhumanity to man; but even then, such anguish was relatively insignificant when compared to the spiritual agony in the Garden, which was extended on the cross.” (The Infinite Atonement, p. 133)

A penlight to the sun! Wow!

I thought of that analogy and I realized, is not everything between us and our Savior as a penlight to the sun? Are not our actions, righteous desires, the Christlike love we feel for others, and our honest efforts to follow our Savior’s example but a penlight compared to the celestial “sun-like” brilliance of His merits and His love?

One beautiful irony behind this is that the scriptures teach that our mere penlight can become as a proverbial “sun” because of the Son Himself.

I could go on for hours about this idea, but here are three things about the Lord that fit this analogy really well and how they serve as a huge comfort and motivator for us....

1. His Love
This one probably seems obvious to most, but I believe that some of the more sacred experiences my wife and I (especially her) have had have given us an extra special understanding of just how overwhelmingly intense, unending, healing, and comforting His love really is. Obviously we are still nowhere anywhere close to understanding fully how powerful and pleasantly pervasive it is, but what we have felt, in dreams and other special experiences, have left us without mortal words to express the incredible, beautiful, lasting effect He has on us when we allow His love to play more of a role in our lives.

Faith becomes much easier for me to exercise the longer I dwell on how unquestionably and irrevocably unquenchable His love is — and taking decent time to just ponder and process things of God is a commandment, anyway (3 Nephi 17:3). The more we take time to even begin to wrap our heads and hearts around the things of God, the easier it becomes to put aside our fear and acknowledge that faith in and adherence to God is more important. We will understand and believe that there is no one more safe in whom to put your trust than the Lord Jesus Christ. 

2. His Judgement

Something I was actually just reminded of today through a disagreement that was mostly my fault is that while truth — especially absolute truth — matters, context and edification matter just as much. So much of the time we mortals spend bickering about semantics, who is right (as opposed to what is right), and fairness could be easily avoided if we would just take the time to consider all aspects of the issue at hand. Considering context, having patience to ponder, scrutinizing the track record and veracity of the source of our information, and, most importantly, revelation and the gift of the discernment (Elder Bednar gave a fantastic talk about that!) are all crucial in coming to the proper conclusion about anything.

Considering each of these factors, our perspective and ability to make fair, kind judgments compared to Jesus is also as a penlight to the sun. How long will we continue to cling to hurt feelings, refuse to forgive, and hold grudges before we believe Christ (different from believing in Christ) and trust that He needs to be the one to decide when and how to execute justice?

3. His Faith
This may seem a little strange to some because most of the time we time we talk about us exercising faith in Jesus Christ, but quoting from Tad R. Callister again: 

“In [Jesus’] moment of agony, he cried out, “my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The Savior was facing his great trial [on the cross] with nothing to support him but his will and his faith. More faith was required of him than was ever exacted from any mortal. Mortals recognize their intellectual inferiority compared to God. In other words, they know they do not know all. They expect to have moments when faith is required. But here was a God whose knowledge reigned supreme, yet there was still a “why” – a gap between his cognitive powers and empirical senses. He had encountered a dark zone, an intellectual “out of bounds,” even for him. Perhaps he did not expect this. Perhaps he did not contemplate a total abandonment. Perhaps he did not comprehend in advance the totality of the aloneness he must endure. Perhaps his infinite mind knew and understood all that is possible to know in advance, but even this fell short of the hard-core reality that comes from actual experience.” (The Infinite Atonement, p. 113-114)

To me, His “sun” of faith to our “penlight” is one of the most comforting ideas because this incomprehensible amount of faith is placed in our potential! In His restored gospel, He teaches us that we can become as He is and He shows faith in our now-penlight faith, that it can turn into “sun” faith.

Considering the comparative magnitude of both of those things, it becomes staggeringly obvious how much more faith He has in us than we do in ourselves. How many times do we consider that the One who understands and sees our weaknesses and sins in a perfectly clear and glaringly painful lens of divine light still exercises and shows more faith in us and what we can become then we ever do? How often do we consider that He also shows that faith in those we perceive as most difficult to forgive, who do us wrong?

Whether it’s in love, judgement, faith, patience, kindness, or any number of other virtues, our Lord and Redeemer’s “sun” of influence can, if we let them, overwhelmingly overshadow any fears or hurt we feel in the trials of life, whether they are merely circumstantial or as the result of another’s actions. As with the actual sun, when we become distracted from or ignore His ever-pervading light, love and invitations to tune out our impure mortal impulses and embrace the sensation of the Spirit, we might as well be a dog endlessly running around in circles, mindlessly chasing our tails.

The only thing that’s ever worth our focus is the sun of His will and His love, ignoring all the meaningless penlights in the process.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Wound is the Place Where the Light Enters You

During our family scripture study growing up, my dad had a habit of interjecting his own personal thoughts, explanations, and anecdotes every… maybe 0.7 verses.

Okay, that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. In my and my siblings’ kid brains, we were often mildly annoyed at him for doing this, but it was a good thing he did. Today in my own personal scripture study, I do that  possibly more than even he did—and I enjoy it!

My wife caught on too and began with me to find gospel parallels in many parts of everyday life: in books, movies, shows, etc. Considering that our tastes of what constitutes a good movie make it really difficult for us to find one that we both want to watch over and over and over again, if we ever tell you of a movie that we both actually enjoyed together and want to watch again, you know it’s a must-see. It also means, however, that we have both seen a crazy amount of gospel parallels in it.

One of those is A Wrinkle In Time. There is one particularly profound, yet often feared, truth in that movie I want to discuss here. It’s when Mrs. Who says, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”

Rather than just diving right into my personal take on this, let’s go to the scriptures for examples of where this truth is taught.

Replacing Darkness with Light

Take a look at 3 Nephi 9 in the Book of Mormon. Chapter 8 ends by talking about the mourning, howling, weeping, wailing, and tangible darkness all over the face of the land after the catastrophic destruction of the Americas following Christ’s death. With this perspective, the timing of what happens in chapter 9 is absolutely awesome. Almost the entire chapter is the voice of Christ speaking to the hearts of everyone who was spared and inviting them to come unto Him. They literally heard the audible voice of Christ speaking to each one of them!

Notice the timing of that: it was right in the middle of the deepest darkness and their most desperate cries for help that they heard His voice. Only when they were brought face-to-face with total darkness did they hear the clear, piercing, soothing, inviting voice of the Lord.

Another thing that really caught my attention was that the moment when the darkness around them completely paralyzed them with fear and left them physically immobile was the same moment where the voice of Christ stunned them so much that all the crying and moaning immediately stopped.

It was in that moment that the voice of Christ had so much power that it turned great guilt and mental and emotional suffering into a change of heart.

If you look carefully at the scriptures and the lives of righteous saints, you will always see that the Lord establishes consistent patterns of teaching and changing us. I have seen His pattern of using these starkly contrasting opposites of darkness and light in my own life in moments when it felt like the Lord “injected” light into me. He always does this for me by first arranging for a dark hole or injury to open up—something I am perhaps afraid to expose or don’t feel ready to confront. The effect of that wound opening inside me feels something like the sound of a that egg Harry Potter opens after the first task in the Triwizard Tournament. Yet as that hole opens up and that fear, anger, hurt or loneliness is exposed, He can then displace it with His light because of His Atonement.

Exposing the Wound 

My wife and I have had multiple painful experiences like this in the last few years. If you read my article about the power of a covenant, you’ll get a short taste of the medical horrors my wife has faced. But in the last few years, through several hospital admissions lasting from a few weeks to a few months, she has faced pains and health problems that are an entirely new ballpark even for her. Learning to witness her suffering while often being unable to do a thing about it has also been its own struggle on my end as well. However, each time something new comes up—something that further complicates my wife’s pain and requires me to be more patient and creative in making her comfortable enough to get by (even when I feel like there’s absolutely nothing more I can do and the situation feels unbearable for both of us)—something divine happens. And in the last few years, those experiences have always taken place in the hospital.

In those times, the Lord uses those dark moments to speak to us in ways that do more than just make us feel better. He heals the source of the wound while it’s exposed. 

My social/communication difficulties with Asperger’s syndrome has presented quite a few hurdles for my wife and I to overcome as a couple. However, last year during my wife’s longest hospital admission, there were a few days where the nerve pain was so bad that it put her in a different mental state. She was acting as if she had just had her wisdom teeth pulled, yet you could tell her judgement wasn’t impaired at all. 

After a few days of this I realized that this mental state of hers was something spiritual. For those few days, she might as well have had one foot on each side of the veil with the spiritual gifts and abilities she had. One of those gifts was the ability to speak and listen in such a way that it was impossible for me to misunderstand her, and vice versa. During those few days, we had, among other things, conversations that totally resolved deep-seated issues in each of our hearts. These were issues that were so sensitive that speaking to each other about them was nearly impossible without creating contention, yet we were able to completely resolve them!

This gift of the Spirit, temporarily granted to us because of my wife’s pain-induced mental state, resulted in these unspeakably painful emotional wounds being cleaned, treated, and proverbially wrapped up in celestial white bandages, never to be worried about again.

“What if Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops?”
As the song “Blessings” by Laura Story says:

“What if your blessings come through rain drops?
What it your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know you’re near?
What if trials of this life are you mercies in disguise?”

I certainly know this is true because I have seen it happen in so many ways firsthand. The most brilliant, holy light always shines for and in us when it can enter us via our deepest wounds. We just to stop being afraid to expose those parts of us and let in the light.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Four of the Most Amazing Promises in All Scripture

For years now I have gradually increased my focus on how certain phrases in the scriptures are worded to help me dig deeper into the spiritual layers of the words of prophets and our Savior. Having Asperger's syndrome makes it a lot easier to really dissect the phrasing and really get down to the juice caramel center of Holy Writ.

One of the key passages that I have repeatedly noticed uses some pretty awesome phrasing is Matt 5:5-8. These four verses each contain one key word that solidifies them as not only some of the most comforting promises in all scripture but also some of the most ironclad. That word is "shall".

I absolutely love any time the Lord makes a promise and says that the blessings we receive as a part of that promise "shall" come to pass.  There are no ifs, maybes, buts or unless's, etc. The promises made with the conditions spelled out are guaranteed. You don't find that kind of thing very often in this life. So many times have General Authorities taught that living the gospel does increase the chances of overall happiness but rarely guarantee when or how or even how often that will happen because of the Fall. But the promises in these verses are ironclad and guaranteed. I want to give each of them separate and deliberate attention to show what I have seen and felt as I have studied them. Let's pick 'em apart.

5. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Many times, as illustrated above, the real meaning of certain verses in scripture comes out more by focusing on what it doesn't say. Let's look at the word "inherit." If you inherit something, you didn't get it by working for it or because you deserve it, but because someone else earned, bought and/or acquired it and you get to have it because you happened to be in some sort of legal will or perhaps bloodline down which said thing has been passed for generations. You get it because of who you are, not what you have done.

In the case of this verse, Jesus promises us that those who are meek will inherit the earth. Whoa, wait a minute, did you catch that? The entire earth? As in the whole physical globe, the planet we call earth, the entire planet, will become the property of the those who are meek? That's all there is to it? The answer is an incredible YES! Does that sound too simple? Did you immediately think "ummm... hold on, sir, there's more to it than that"? Well, lets look at what it means to be meek and see if we can find out if it's really as simple as the phrasing our Savior used.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell, one of His apostles, said the following about meekness.
  • "Meekness is thus so much more than a passive attribute that merely deflects discourtesy. Instead, it involves spiritual and intellectual activism: “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10; see also 2 Chronicles 19:3, 20:33). Meek Nephi, in fact, decried the passivity of those who “will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness” (2 Nephi 32:7). Alas, most are unsearching—quite content with a superficial understanding or a general awareness of spiritual things (see Alma 10:5–6). This condition may reflect either laziness or, in Amulek’s case, the busyness usually incident to the cares of the world.  Intellectual meekness is a persistent as well as particular challenge. Without it, we are not intellectually open to things that we “never had supposed” (Moses 1:10). Alas, some have otherwise reached provincial and erroneous conclusions and do not really want to restructure their understanding of things. Some wish neither to be shaken nor expanded by new data."("Meek and Lowly”, Oct. 21, 1986 Devotional at BYU)
I think it becomes much clearer why, of all the attributes of God Jesus chose to use as the most prominent of those who would inherit the earth, He chose meekness. Elder Maxwell describes this virtue as not just one of holding back when the time is not right to speak or act, but also - in contrast - as a virtue that expands the mind and soul, emboldens and fine tunes the spiritual senses and glorifies a man or woman who can stand in quiet, yet brilliant and unyielding majesty in the presence of the prideful and benighted of the world; someone familiar with, as President Monson said, the "glorious feeling it is to know that you stand in your appointed place clean and with the confidence that you are worthy to do so."

Such meekness is surely a forerunner of Godliness and a one of the keystones in the marble arch of charity. No wonder only those who have it are given the unconditional promise of inheriting the earth itself.

6. And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Anyone who is more well versed in the New Testament will see slight difference in wording from the King James Version. The last phrase "with the Holy Ghost" is only found in the Lord's similar discourse to the Nephites in the Book of Mormon as the resurrected Lord.

A few years back, I had wondered and discussed with my wife the idea of having the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost with us every second of every single day and wondered if it was truly possible. I mean, we all sin and render ourselves unworthy of the full presence of the Holy Ghost many times a day with things we do wrong that we don't often think twice about, so is it really possible? Even the Lord tells us "my Spirit shall not always strive with man" (D&C 1). But then I realized that the only reason the Holy Ghost doesn't always strive with us is because we are not following the counsel of King Benjamin, which, if we do, we are promised constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. King Benjamin says this:
  • And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel. And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true. (Mosiah 4
Wow! Did you see that!? Yes, we CAN be filled with the Holy Ghost, according to the Lord's promise in Matthew, if we are constantly hungering and thirsting after righteousness. That's obviously more easily said than done. There are seemingly innumerable means the devil uses to distract, deceive and discourage us, but I find comfort in President Nelson's words, "It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought. But when we do, our doubts and fears flee." And we've been given an incredible promise when we do, being filled with the Holy Ghost. Just as an additional incentive for you and I to narrow our focus on righteousness and thereby receive such an amazing gift, here's a small description, limited by mortal words, that paints a picture of what it's like to be filled with the Holy Ghost by Parley P Pratt:
  • "The gift of the Holy Ghost...quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form, and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being."

7. And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

This goes along well with Helaman's discourse to his son Corianton about the law of restoration. He teaches that "the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful."

The interesting thing I noticed right away with this is that if we look again at what verse 7 isn't saying. In this case what this verse isn't saying actually reveals more about the doctrine taught here by the Lord. The agreement in this promise is strict and straight to the point and further explained by Jesus in Matt 7:2, "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." He can be as merciful to us as we are to are to each other. If we can come to completely forgive every wrong ever committed against us and let the Lord deal with justice, His atoning sacrifice becomes fully efficacious in our lives and we are thus forgiven completely for every sin we fully repent of.

That's the other reason Matt 5:7 is so powerful. It teaches us the often disregarded aspect of forgiveness from the Lord. We are so often taught that to be forgiven of sins we must fully repent and this is unequivocally true, but ultimately, there are technically two things that we must do in order to have complete forgiveness from the Lord. Repent fully of all our sins and forgive everyone for every wrong committed against us or anyone else. Both are required according to the Son of God. If we compartmentalize others and use our insufficient, weak, out-of-context judgement skills as the standard by which we measure the worth of others and how we should feel and think about them, why on earth would we have the right to expect that the Lord should just wipe our slate clean and bring us to Celestial Glory if we can't come to love everyone - yes, everyone - the same way He does? (even if not to the same intensity)

I can imagine many who just read that and thought right away, "do you realize how tall of an order that is? That is... huge! I completely agree, but then again, as Elder Holland put it, "...salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?"

This single short verse is loaded with what it says and what it doesn't say.

8. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God

I think this one has to be my favorite out of all of them. I personally know a few people aside from those publicly taught about in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have seen our Savior in person. They have each confirmed what Joseph Smith said about being in His presence, that "His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters" (D&C 110:3).

We know of so few who have seen either the Father or the Son and yet, in His mortal ministry, the Son gives us the very formula in just eleven words to have that very same thing happen to us. It stands to reason, of course, that this must mean being pure in heart is quite hard to achieve, given that those who saw Him because they were pure in heart - as opposed to the wicked who saw Him because of the prayers of the righteous and the justice of God - seem to be so few and far between in the annals of recorded history. Still, our Savior doesn't make us any promises or tell us how to do something or give us commandments without making any of it possible. I wonder if some of you are already thinking, "Yeah, but there are a lot of hard things to do in the restored gospel that we have been promised are possible that are still ridiculously difficult."

My only response to that is to echo Elder Holland again when he said the following. And keep in mind that since repentance is synonymous with positive change, you can substitute almost every instance of the word "repentance" with "change" below, as I already have,
  • "You can change anything you want to change and you can do it very fast. It is another Satanic falsehood to believe that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to [change]. It takes exactly as long to [change] as it takes you to say “I’ll change”—and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to make. You may well spend—indeed, you had better spend—the rest of your life proving your [change] by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come for you as instantaneously as it did for Alma and the Sons of Mosiah. Do not misunderstand. [Change] is not easy or painless or convenient. It can be a bitter cup from hell. But only Satan would have you think that a necessary and required acknowledgement of sin is more distasteful than permanent residence in it. Only he would say, “You can’t change. You won’t change. It’s too long and too hard to change. Give up. Give in. Don’t repent. You are just the way you are.” That, my friends, is a lie born of desperation. Don’t fall for it." (emphasis added) ("How To Change" Liahona, Feb 2017)

I still haven't seen Him, but I know it's possible to do so because I know people who have and I aspire to reach the point where I'm "D&C 4:6" enough to see Him. I know that as I pray for God to purify my intentions and my desires that He will dispel my fears and make me into someone who can see Him in person, and I want you to see Him, too. Lets purify our hearts along side our Savior together, shall we?