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One of life’s important questions is “Who am I?” But even more important is “Who am I becoming?” to answer that question satisfactorily, we must keep one eye on where we are and the other eye on where we will be. Most people don’t do that. They have one eye on where they have been and one eye on where they are now…If you are determined to change and to live a life above and beyond average, know that you need to do things differently as you look ahead…(John C Maxwell, pg 192-193 Sometimes you Win, Sometimes you Learn)
I like this quote. The other day, I was with a friend who is struggling with some set-backs in life and we had a conversation surrounding not comparing ourselves to other people-including who we once were. Rather, looking at where we are now and then looking forward to who God wants us to become.
There is a great scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that teaches this principle. It reads:
And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. (D&C 88:67)
According to this, looking ahead means looking towards God’s glory. If our focus is single to His glory, then we’ll be filled with light and be able to comprehend all things-including who we are and who we can become.
There is another scripture that discusses what God’s glory is. It is in the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price and reads:
For behold, this is my work and my glory–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39)
If God’s glory is man’s eternal life, what do you think it means to have our eyes single to His glory, and what are the blessings for doing so?
In the 1969 speech “The Loneliness of Leadership“, Gordon Hinckley discusses the loneliness that leaders feel-both spiritual leaders and secular leaders and how true leaders stand up for what they believe to be right regardless of consequences. Examples he uses include Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and recent converts to the Church who are ostracized and cast out for their belief.
He concludes with the following:
I like these great words of the Lord given to those who would go out and teach this gospel:
I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. [D&C 84:88]
I think that is a promise to each of us. I believe it; I know it. I bear testimony of its truth to you this day.
After reading this, I thought about times in my life when I’ve had to stand up for what I believed to be right, according to what I felt that God had put in my heart.
Joining the Mormon Church
When I was 9 years old, my parents divorced and I moved with my mother to another state. We had been raised members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), but after the divorce we gradually quit attending church.
I remember my mother inviting people over and having study sessions on why the Mormon religion is false and although I don’t think she knew I was listening, it did have an affect on me. Also, she confided in me a lot of negative information about my father that influenced my opinion of him as a person. He remained a practicing Mormon, so as a child, I blamed the Mormon church as well as all of the negative things that I heard in my home about Mormons. I hated Mormons.
At school I would bully them. Tease them. Gradually, it evolved into where I was not only teasing Mormons, but all people of faith. I was very young-11 years old- but I was getting involved in drinking, vandalism, and heading down a very negative path.
One day my mother came to me and told me that I should go and visit my father as I hadn’t seen him in 2 years because of my hatred for him and his religion. I told her I didn’t want to go, but she told me that legally I needed to and also it would be good for me. Looking back, I think she recognized a lot of the negative things in my life and thought I needed a father figure.
Before I left, she sat me down in the my bedroom that was in the garage of our old house and told me that when I visited my father that he would try and make me go to church with him. She told me that I didn’t have to go and to make sure that whatever I do I didn’t become Mormon. I looked at her confused and wondered why she would even worry about that because that was the last thing I wanted to do. I just wanted to have the 2 week trip over with.
To make a long story short, I visited my Dad. I noticed a very peaceful feeling almost immediately when I was in his home. Something I didn’t realize I had been craving. I also noticed that he wasn’t as bad as I had been told and that he was actually a very sincere and fun person to be around. He had remarried and my new step-mom was very kind and patient.
The other thing I realized was that the Mormon church wasn’t bad. In fact, I felt peace there that I hadn’t felt anywhere else (when we left the Mormon church, we went “church shopping” to a bunch of churches like Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, non-denominational, etc). After only a short time, the Holy Spirit shared with me a vision of my life and what would come of it if I stayed with my mother in that situation at the time, or moved in with my Dad. It was clear to me and I feel blessed that the Lord put it into my heart that I needed to join the Mormon church and also live with my Dad.
When I had the conversation with my mom, I knew that if I came back home with her, I was too weak at the time to stand up for what I had felt in my heart and I would fall back into my bad friends and behavior. I told her I was staying with Dad. She and I had a big blow-out conversation on the phone that ended with her telling me that if I went back to the Mormon church and my Dad she wouldn’t talk with me again. That hurt me deeply, but I knew what God had put in my heart and I had faith that I should follow that. So I chose to stay with my Dad.
Years later, after I had experienced a lot of psychological and emotional pain (which I wrote about in my book Discovering Light: 12 Steps to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medication), I realized I needed to make amends with my mother and forgive her. Funny thing was that she put the blame back on me by saying I imagined that she had said that. I’ve forgiven her regardless and I’m very glad that I made that difficult decision years ago because it has changed my life a lot.
Since becoming a Mormon, I have had to walk a lonely road at times. I haven’t been perfect by any means, but largely the Lord has blessed me.
There were times in college when young ladies wanted to sleep with me and I turned them down because of what I believe.
There were times in Europe when I was working after having served a mission in Germany where I was ridiculed and cast out of a home I was staying in because I wouldn’t drink with them.
In my career, I’ve found that people are very accepting for the most part, of my beliefs and I’ve made some great friends as I don’t shy away from my faith, but stand up for it. I’ve found that for the most part, people are drawn to that.
Most importantly, I’ve found that I feel the Lord’s comfort and Spirit come over me in a way that I can’t describe as I’ve been all alone and decided to stand up for what I feel is right. I’ve found that Heavenly Father surrounds us with love when we do this and we come to know Him as a father more deeply in these times.
I’ve shared a few examples of standing up for truth and your beliefs and how God blessed my life.
I’m sure that you have some stories as well. We would all love to hear them, so please share.