So today I had the privilege of giving a talk in church. I love giving talks if for no other reason than it gives me a chance to hear my own voice. Anyway I realized since it is Easter a lot of my friends wouldn't be able to see or hear my talk and I would hate to deprive them of such a chance. So here, in it's entirety is my talk. I have entitled it "Easter Talk" even though I don't talk about Easter at all. I was given the opportunity to talk about either Easter or something from conference last week and I thought it would be easier to write about a conference talk. Anyway here is my talk. Enjoy.
In a world full of complaints and grievances I actually have none. My life is pretty good. I have a roof over my head, yes a roof I share with 5 other men but they are 5 of the best roommates I could ever ask for. I have a job, and not only that but a job that I love. I have the respect of my coworkers and the love of my many friends. And speaking of those friends I have definitely been blessed with a core group of friends that I know will do everything within their power for me, including but not exclusive to late night rides when my bus is late, care packages when I am sick, or even just a late night chat when I can't sleep. Like I said my life is pretty good. However with all those things comes the fear that I could lose any one of those things at any moment. The economy is in the trash, people move, jobs can be lost. With these thoughts on my mind a lot I find myself doubting just how awesome my life is. I am sure some of you have these same fears, or even some legitimate feelings of depression and frustration with the way life is treating you. In times of doubt and despair it is even more important to turn to the Savior's reassuring love to ease our heavy hearts and lighten our load.
In last week's conference Elder Allan F. Packer gave a talk entitled "Finding strength in challenging times!" where he gives us several ways to develop our testimonies to aid us in these times of need.
the first way is to have a desire, as Alma said "Alma said, “For I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life". Much like when it comes to hearing the advice of your parents it is impossible to hear the still small voice of the holy ghost without having a desire to hear it. You cannot expect the lord to help if he does not feel you want his help. I spent many years of my adolescence refusing to listen to holy ghost simply because I chose to ignore it and to follow my own poorly thought out ideas as to what I should be doing.
Elder Packer's next suggestion is to do as Alma suggested and experiment on the word. Alma 32:28 reads "We will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.” to put that into simple terms: listen to the words of the spirit, do what it tells you to do. Once you see the good that comes from that it will become easier to trust the spirit and thus become easier to be happy.
Another suggestion from Elder Packer is to study and learn. Often I find that my mind and spirit become in-lined while I am studying my scriptures and pondering on what I am reading. As it is said in D&C 9:8 "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right" study often allows us to apply what we are learning to our own lives and circumstances so that we might be able to know easier what it is we should be searching for and how to find them.
How do we recognize the spirit though is a completely different matter entirely. Occasionally you have heard it described as a still small voice or as a burning in the bosom. the truth is every one feels the spirit differently and the way I feel it in one situation might be different from another situation. I can say that despite all the grandiose terms people use to describe the manifestations of the spirit usually they are often very minuscule and small feelings. I remember the first time I read the book of Mormon all the way from cover to cover at the age of eight. I reached the end of Moroni and I read his challenge and decided I wanted to feel that burning in my bosom everyone was always talking about. I knelt down and said the humble prayer of an boy in search of answers. When I was done I was sad. I hadn't spontaneously combusted. In fact there was no fire at all. My mother noticed just how sad I was and sat me on her knee and asked what was wrong. In all my innocence I explained the situation and mom just laughed. Once she finished laughing at my naivety she asked me simply "Allen, do you feel good? Does your heart feel warm?" I nodded my head. "well that is that burning in the bosom they are talking about. It isn't a real fire, but the warm feeling of confirmation from the spirit" Suddenly I was happy knowing that I had received my revelation.
The final suggestion that Elder Packer gave us was to ask for a testimony of truth to open inspiration. While we don't all have the time to kneel and pray as the young eight year old me did in my little story sometimes it is just as simple as having a prayer in your mind that will open our train of thought and encourage the spirit to join us and aid us in our hard times.
in closing often times we find ourselves in hard times that can feel like there is no escape. I was once told this story by a near and dear friend of mine named Mudbone that I would like to share with you -
People talk about how these are hard times. These aren't hard times. Hard times was way back, didn't even have a name for it. Just called 'em hard times. And it was dark all the time. I think the sun came out on Wednesday. And if you didn't get up early you missed it. Well I just happened to be out there one Wednesday and the sun hit me right in the face. So I grabbed a bunch of it and rubbed it all over my face. Shoot I didn't have anything else to do, figured I might as well have some sunshine on my face. So time went on and I remember it was Thursday and I said to myself, because there was nobody else around, "Man that sun is harsh. That's why they don't want us to have any,cuz it'll cheer you up inside.
I have a testimony that while times may be tough it is always possible to find some sunshine in your life if you just open up your heart and mind to the lord and trust in him. I am not asking you to ignore your problems when life hands them to you, just remember to keep some sunshine on your face to remind yourself that there is still good in the world.