Speech! Speech!

Okay, sorry this is a little late, it’s been a busy day! This week’s blog is recycled from a talk I did on Sunday at Church, in my Church members of the congregation are set assignments to talk in front of everyone in Sunday meetings on a given gospel topic. This gives the opportunity to improve confidence, improve knowledge on that topic and provide others with a different view on the topic that they might not have thought of before. So, to give others a taste of how a talk is set out and a kind- of in site into what we say in meetings at Church, I’m putting the whole thing in, exactly how I said it on Sunday. (I also got a lot a lot of compliments on this talk in particular, so that’s another reason! 😉 )

Good morning brothers and sisters. Today I have been asked to talk on the topic “How can we avoid spiritual blind spots and see ourselves through God’s eyes?”. I was given a talk from October 2014 General Conference “Lord is it I?” by President Uchtdorf to read and study in preparation for this talk. It spoke of humbling ourselves before God in order to be willing to learn and change. This contradicted the first thoughts I had about the topic which were more of thinking better of ourselves as we can so often be our own worst enemies. I think in this day and age, those two thoughts are constantly battling in our minds. We are trained today in thinking about the physical -you’re hair should be a certain way, we should be wearing certain clothes, we should be a certain weight- which can often lead to discouraging thoughts that lower our self esteem. Men and Women are presented with images that have been edited on a computer and set ourselves an impossible standard.

However, we are also guilty of being prideful and self involved. Not looking at how we can help others but at how we can help ourselves. We see ourselves as good and are not willing to change because of that. I find myself thinking “I’m doing fine, why should I change?” because usually I’m too lazy or comfortable with the way I am to bother changing. I think a lot of people can relate to this. Thinking like this helps us to avoid looking deeper into our selves and thinking about hard things. For example “How can I improve myself?” “what am I doing wrong?” or “I need to stop doing this.”. These thoughts are intimidating and, in a world that’s fast paced, time consuming.

Time is this worlds worst enemy. We are constantly looking to the future and worrying about what’s ahead of us and when we will run out of time. Younger and younger people are being pressurised into thinking about their futures. Instead of being given a childhood of play and excitement, they are given a childhood of test results and career paths. We now see learning as preparation for being successful when we forget that we can learn for fun and we can carry on learning into the later years of life as well. I know I can hark on about this and repeat these words, but more and more people are beginning to become stressed, depressed and anxious about our worldly futures. If people are feeling that way, then it’s time to be thinking a little differently. I am as guilty as the next person of thinking about my financial future which is another reason why I talk about it so much. We are told that we are now lazier and beginning life later than ever before when we forget that it is harder than ever before to reach our goals and goals given to us. We are told that by the time we have been on this earth a mere 25-30 years out of the 90 or so that we have, that we should be settled down and in a career path that’s perfect for us. These improbable goals have us worrying and trembling and thinking about things that aren’t as important as what we would be thinking about if we had a more eternal perspective.

I believe that having an eternal perspective is paramount to seeing ourselves in Heavenly Fathers eyes and avoiding spiritual blind spots. But it can be very difficult to have an eternal perspective when we are so worried about what the world tells us we should be worried about. I shouldn’t be talking about the pressures of becoming successful in a talk given at Church about the Gospel. But this just goes to show how far Heavenly fathers plans for us have slid down the ladder of importance. Yes, having a good education and job is important. But we see that as, the be- all and end- all of our existence. Being financially successful is not God’s plan for us, it’s our plan. Yes, he want us to be happy and yes he wants us to have a good and full life but having a good and full life doesn’t necessarily mean to own a fancy house and car and have an amazing job by such-and such a time.

When I was in education, my Mum told me that one of her sisters always did her seminary work and scripture reading before her homework and anything else she might want to do and that her sister reaped the rewards of doing this. This speaks volumes about what we should be putting first. Whatever we wish to become, this Gospel should be put first. Heavenly Father merely wants us back where we belong -with him. This world is not the only part of our existence, and while it could well be the most important part, it is also the smallest part. If being on earth defines our future, then why am I and so so many others fretting about a couple of years ahead?

I found a quote about time that I absolutely love, written by Rashida Rowe, it states “Memories remind us that nothing lasts forever, you can be happy today and sad tomorrow, time is precious and should not be wasted, enjoy life and remember don’t count your days, make your days count.” (close quote)

Upon googling eternal perspective I discovered a man called Don Johnson (not the actor from the 1980’s). I’m pretty sure he’s not LDS, but he is Christian. I had never heard of him before and I haven’t read any of his other things, but what he has to say on the subject of the importance of an eternal perspective is relevant to our teachings. He says, and I’m chopping together bits and pieces of this,

“earthly life is only for sowing, while eternity is for reaping. We are not to look for rewards here and now. Instead, we must keep our eyes on the big prize: eternal life in the presence of God. […] I am a goal oriented person. As such, I don’t mind working hard as long as I see some fruits for my labor. However, sometimes those rewards don’t come, or at least they don’t arrive as quickly as I would like. Rather than a progression towards a particular good end, sometimes it seems like life is a treadmill. We just keep doing the same things day after day. When that feeling arises, I have taken particular solace and hope in the image of our life as a journey across the wilderness toward the Promised Land. As sojourners, we are not to expect all the benefits of home just yet, but they will certainly be there when we arrive. The temptation is to start thinking of this life as home and to start looking for those rewards and comforts right now.” (close quote)

I like what he said about life being like a treadmill. I think life is also like grating a massive chunk of cheese, you change and come at it from different angles and think it’s going to last forever and before you know it, it’s all gone. Johnson goes on to talk about how this world leads us to believe in the idea of winning and of beating other people. When in fact, the rewards we should be looking for aren’t worldly comforts, they’re much bigger and better than that. The rewards that we should be striving for are those of going to live with our Heavenly Father.

This helped me to understand how to avoid spiritual dark spots. We all have them, but by looking at our time on this earth as a learning experience and journey towards being home again with our Heavenly Father, we can avoid them. In some ways, these moments lacking in spirituality are unavoidable because we were made to be imperfect. But whilst we trip and stumble through life, no matter how big our fall we can still remind ourselves of the image Heavenly Father made for us. He made us bodies to build character, to learn and to grow in our spirituality. We can be deceived by this world in thinking that we are the most important person on earth, or that we are the most lowly. Often, we think both at the same time. But what the World doesn’t tell us is that the most important person sees each and every human to walk this planet as equals.

We are in a constant battle with the world and it’s teachings. We are taught to be self conscious and timid in anything deviating from the norm. What I and many others forget is that there is no norm. This world and the people in it are far from normal, we see evidence of that every day. The norm is what’s stopping us from being and seeing ourselves as Heavenly Father sees us- his sons and daughters. We don’t need to be anything else. We don’t need to see ourselves as anything more or less than that, because that’s just about the greatest thing we can be. In the end, everyone is going to go to Heavenly Father and be taught the exact same thing and then live for eternity where we’re meant to live. This can be a really hard thing to remember. But I believe, in remembering that, we can start to think about ourselves through Heavenly Fathers eyes and keep spiritually uplifted.

I’d like to finish with a quote from Edward Monkton, a humorous writer, titled “The ‘sensible’ Machine” it says “And in the New Administration, they ordered all the people through the ‘sensible’ machine. But some were so insane that they escaped the treatment, for nothing could be done to take their lunacy away. congratulations to a fellow escapee!” I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

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