Happy Easter!!! Hope you all had a good one, and were able to get stuffed with a bunch of candy!
On a more serious note, I really love it when General Conference falls on Easter. I can't think of a much better way to remember Christ's Atonement and Resurrection then hearing His apostles and prophets testify of Him. Jeffrey R. Holland's talks are always some of the strongest in that regard. I loved how this time he went back to Adam and Eve, to explain in such great detail, yet so simply, the need for a Redemption. Because of the choice that our first parents made, and because we all were going to make choices that would take us away from God, we would've been lost. Because of Jesus Christ, we all are made free from the Fall of Adam and Eve, and we are free to choose whether or not to follow Christ, keep His commandments, and be exalted with Him and our families. The fact that we get to choose is always one of the things that sticks out to me the most. God loves us enough to let us make our own choice, even when that choice takes us away from Him. He also makes sure that we have everything that we need in order to know what consequences our choices will have, good or bad, so that we can make an informed choice. Finally, He made a way where, when we make the wrong choices, we can repent, change, and become the person that God wants us to be, which is the best version of us that we can be. That, to me, is awesome.
Now, I've just got to figure out how I can have the same attitude that He does, with some of the people that I'm working with. It can get really frustrating when you're outside looking in, and you can see exactly where a person's choice will lead them, and you try to warn them, and they choose not to listen, to continue down the same road, and to miss out on a lot of the amazing things that we can have. I've been out here for 21 months, and too many times have I seen people that choose to run down the same ruts that they have their whole lives, having the same problems, and feeling the same sadness and pain as always. When we try to point them in a way out of all that, some of them start to try, but when they realize that starting off, they have to climb out of the ruts, they slide back down, because right now, it seems easier. We try to explain that after the first push, after new habits are made, life just gets so much easier, happier, and more meaningful, but that first change, those first three weeks of building new habits, scare them off. They choose the normal, the ingrained, over the unknown, the new, not trusting the voice of those who care about them, instead choosing to trust what they already know, even if it hurts.
The worst part of all this? I know exactly how they feel---I felt the same way. Before I was knocked over the head hard enough to rattle me free, I was doing the same things I just ranted about. I know what it feels like to slide back because I know what it feels like, because I don't want to feel the strain of working to try something new, something that looks like too much for me to handle. I know how easy it is to look around at the rest of the world, see them making choices like mine, and deciding that, if they can do it, so can I---it can't be bad if so many people are making such and such choice and seem so happy. I see so many people make choices different from what the gospel teaches, and I see a life free of commitment, free to do what I want, when I want, with whomever I want. Seems appetizing, relaxing, easy, comfortable, and able to fit in with the people around me. Why should I need to change? What benefit could there possibly be to me restricting myself to rules and regulations that are strict, often hard, and often not what I want to do at that time? Why on Earth would I as hard as people say to, if I can just stay the way I am, and live in the excitement of the moment, without any price tied to the choices that I make? Logically, why should I pay a price to something that I don't want? Why should I tie myself to something that ties me down to a set of actions and customs that simply require more work in the long run, when I can pay no price, stay the say I am, and live the life I want to live?
It took me a long time to figure it out, and a lot of outside help, but I finally figured it out. Fact is, even when it doesn't seem like it, there is always a price, to whatever we do. Some prices can just be deferred, paid on credit. We can say that we want this now, take it, and forget that for every cause, there is an effect. You leave a banana on the counter long enough, it will rot. You don't mow the lawn, it will eventually grow out of control, and die, with weeds and other things choking it out. You leave a bike outside, out of cover, it will at a later time rust and break. Most of these things take a long time to happen, but they will happen, unless action is taken to reverse the process. The same thing happens with the choices we make. A price will be paid, and a reward given, for every choice we make. We cannot change that. We cannot choose what that price is, nor the reward given, anymore then we can live without air. All we can do is choose what we want before we make a choice, and choose to act in whichever way will give us the effect we desire. If we do that, if we look before we act, suddenly it's easy to choose what to do. All we do is choose to pay a smaller price now, rather then a larger price later.
I am glad to say, we've gotten to work with someone who figured it out. Lindsey, a 20 year old girl who chose to change her life for the better. Getting to work with her has been a breath of fresh air, cool, fresh water in a drought. Here is a young woman that felt the pain of her choices, and decided that they weren't worth the price. She got herself out. She listened to the voices of those who cared for her, ultimately to the greatest Voice of all. She set herself right, and turned to God and Christ. She paid the price of this new choice, which is following the commandments, and turning herself over to Christ. Because of that choice, Christ blessed her with truth, light, and blessings more then I can count. Saturday, Lindsey was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I had the chance to see someone so filled with the Holy Ghost, that she almost lost her strength to stand. I've seen her do more in the last few weeks to help others come to Christ, then many members have their whole life. She had the courage to make these choices, even when her family might object, actually kick her out. She even had the guts to invite them to her baptism!! She knew her weaknesses, and turned to the Lord every time they surfaced, through personal prayer, and through priesthood blessings. She was willing to take the steps to repent of her past mistakes, and to become a "new creature," like it says in Mosiah chapter 5. It has been a long time since I've seen someone make that kind of change in their lives. That's really what it's all about. I came out because I wanted to see people be happy, and I've had that chance with Lindsey. It's been worth all of it, all of the frustration, all of the sadness, just to see her grow happier and happier.
Well, I think that should be enough of a bomb for this week. Thanks for letting me soap box, and for taking the time to read these things. It really means a lot to me that you do.
Love and Insanity,
Elder Nathanael Stuver