I have a special spot in my heart of hearts for hymns. They have the capacity to swell powerful emotions and invite the Spirit. The following is hymn #131:
More holiness give me,
More strivings within,
The plead for an increase of spirituality is one I make regularly. To have a greater sense of holiness seems to be the solution to many of my problems. I too ask for power to overcome my trials. These strivings within our hearts to do what is right. Plead for the desire to keep the commandments, to win the battles within our hearts.
More patience in suff’ring,
More sorrow for sin,
Patience. That elusive Christ-like attribute that evades all of us, especially parents. I find that to be the pinnacle of spirituality, to have the patience of Job. If you can endure the trials he faced with patience, to allow such sufferings to fortify your faith instead of weaken it, then you’re on the fast track to translation with Enoch.
Pleading for godly sorrow is another petition I make regularly. If we cannot feel sorrow for our sin, if we cannot feel the anguish that accompanies our transgressions, then it is impossible to accept the Atonement and let it change our hearts. Part of losing our desire to sin and forsaking it is feeling this depth of sorrow for what we have done. A beautiful example of this anguish leading to a change of heart is Alma the younger’s conversion.
More faith in my Savior,
More sense of his care,
Faith is the foundation of our belief. Without faith, we have nothing to build upon. We should not have faith in just anything, but faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Having this strong belief in His mercy and grace gives us the strength to keep His commandments. Faith is one attribute of righteousness that is always in need of nurture.
When we understand the love of our Redeemer for us as individuals, our faith is increased. We need to understand His charity on our behalf, His devotion to our needs. Bringing clarity to our faith is a realization of how deeply He cares for our well being. When we understand His love, our trials have a new meaning. When we understand His love, we seek to follow Him. When we understand His love, our hearts are changed.
More joy in his service,
More purpose in prayer.
Asking for an increase in joy is common in the human condition. As mortals we focus on the negatives, and find reasons to be miserable. But this plead for joy is tied directly to service. As we give ourselves in His work and follow His example, we will find an increase in happiness and lasting joy. As we loose our lives for His sake, we shall find them.
Falling in to rote prayers is a problem of mine as well. Escaping this is a regular struggle, but one that has eternal value. Making these pleas a part of our communion in prayer is important, and when we learn to pray instead of say prayers, we will find an increase in our conversion. The power of prayer is greater than we realize, and is under appreciated within our church.
If there is one thing I can leave with you it is this: make praying a priority. The supplications within this hymn are excellent guidelines for finding purpose in prayer. These desires are righteous and will give us the power we need to excel in our mortal condition.
We all ask soul searching questions in our quest for truth. These questions of the soul can be answered with a study of The Book of Mormon. When asking “What does Christ expect of me? What is the purpose of life?” reference these scriptures:
"And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God," (2 Nephi 9:23)
"And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father? And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son," (2 Nephi 31:10-11)
"For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors… I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world," (Alma 34:32-34)
"Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life," (3 Nephi 15:9)
"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God," (Moroni 10:32)
There has been a flurry of excitement in social media about marriage. My Facebook feed has been filled with links to other blogs discussing marriage, prepping for it, and trying to make sense of the cultural stigmas surrounding it. I may not have a lot of experience (only 20 months), I still think I have a few comments to make on the myths of marriage.
Lack of Freedom
I think this is probably the biggest falsehood I’ve heard about marriage. This one seems to be fed by our culture, that once you’ve entered the married club you give up most of your freedoms. If you are in a relationship where you are controlled by your spouse, then you’re doing it wrong. Marriage is about making sacrifices for the benefit of your relationship and your spouse. If you aren’t putting their needs first, then you are in need of some self reflection. The scriptures describe Christ’s pure love in this phrase:
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," (John 15:13)
Love is about laying aside your selfish desires for someone else. Love is about giving everything up for your best friend, who should be your spouse. I know that as you treat your spouse as your best friend, then it will never seem like you have lost freedoms. Instead you will have the opportunity to spend loads of time with your best friend.
This seems to be another excuse for avoiding marriage. It is also one I have experience in, and I know how discouraging it is to be broke. Elder Holland shares this story of when he was depressed with his finances as a young married man at school:
"[When we were married] we had absolutely no money. Zero… We had a small apartment just south of campus—the smallest we could find: two rooms and a half bath. We were both working too many hours trying to stay afloat financially, but we had no other choice.
I remember one fall day…we were walking together up the hill past the Maeser Building on the sidewalk that led between the President’s Home and the Brimhall Building. Somewhere on that path we stopped and wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Life that day seemed so overwhelming, and the undergraduate plus graduate years that we still anticipated before us seemed monumental, nearly insurmountable. Our love for each other and our commitment to the gospel were strong, but most of all the other temporal things around us seemed particularly ominous.
On a spot that I could probably still mark for you today, I turned to Pat and said something like this: ‘Honey, should we give up? I can get a good job and carve out a good living for us. I can do some things. I’ll be okay without a degree. Should we stop trying to tackle what right now seems so difficult to face?’
…Then my beloved little bride did what she has done for 45 years since then. She grabbed me by the lapels and said, ‘We are not going back. We are not going home. The future holds everything for us,’” (Remember Lot’s Wife)
Finding Mr/Ms Right
This is another common misconception with marriage. While it is important to have some compatibility, and you should be happy around your spouse, focusing on a list of perfect qualities will yield no results. If you are waiting for a perfect man/woman to walk into your life, you will only be disappointed. Guess what, we’re not perfect. No one is. Instead of being selfish and wanting your future companion to meet your standards, focus on becoming the best person you can be. By becoming Mr/Ms Right you will be attractive to the potential companions in your life.
Obviously there are some important qualifications with your eternal companion however. I knew that I wanted my marriage to be eternal, and sealed by the power of the priesthood within a temple of the Lord. Such standards are right and good. Looking for a spouse has some qualities of yours is good, but being obsessed with these quotas is not healthy. Instead, focus on loving your spouse unconditionally, even with their faults and flaws, and they will love you too.
In conclusion here are a few quotes from modern prophets on marriage:
"Soul mates’ are fiction and an illusion; … it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage," -President Kimball
“Choose a companion of your own faith. You are much more likely to be happy. Choose a companion you can always honor, you can always respect, one who will complement you in your own life, one to whom you can give your entire heart, your entire love, your entire allegiance, your entire loyalty. …
“A good marriage requires time. It requires effort. You have to work at it. You have to cultivate it. You have to forgive and forget. You have to be absolutely loyal one to another. Most of you will marry and have children. They will become the source of your greatest pride and happiness,” -President Hinckley
"Yes, men are attracted by beauty, and thousands are ensnared by it. There are thousands of men who look for nothing else and who desire nothing else but to have their senses pleased or their passions gratified. These outward adornments will satisfy and only outward adornment will retain. When beauty fades, the passion seeks for gratification elsewhere. ‘Beauty is only skin-deep,’ and when outward adornment is all a girl possesses, the admiration she calls forth is even more shallow than her beauty. …
“But there is a beauty every girl has—a gift from God, as pure as the sunlight, and as sacred as life. It is a beauty that all men love, a virtue that wins all men’s souls. That beauty is chastity. Chastity without skin beauty may enkindle the soul; skin beauty without chastity can kindle only the eye. Chastity enshrined in the mold of true womanhood will hold true love eternally,” -President McKay
We all ask soul searching questions in our quest for truth. These questions of the soul can be answered with a study of The Book of Mormon. When asking “Is there a God? What is his nature?” reference these scriptures:
" And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon," (2 Nephi 2:14)
"Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend," (Mosiah 4:9)
" But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator," (Alma 30:44)