Sunday, August 18, 2013

No More Strangers

This has been a REALLY busy two weeks! Instead of writing about my life, I've been out living it (and taking LOTS of notes)! I feel so blessed having had the experiences I've had in this time and I just can't wait to share!!

On the 9th through the 11th, I got to participate in the Southeast YSA Conference! I have heard about this for months (and if you are friends with me on Facebook you were probably tired of me posting announcements and invites!) and had really high expectations for what this would be like! The incredible thing was that the same conference was happening in 5 different locations. Not only was I personally in a crowd of nearly 1,000 young single adults, but there were THOUSANDS elsewhere in 4 other locations across the southeast! There is just something about being gathered in such large numbers. And we were blessed enough to be taught by three amazing individuals: Sheri Dew, Brad Wilcox, and Elder Bednar (an apostle of the Lord).

I DO NOT love crowds. I get nervous, and even with friends feel isolated and alone. I don't know if I've just reached a different maturity level (hopefully) and have outgrown that feeling, but even as I went to different events alone I didn't feel alone. And though I spent much time by myself, I wasn't lonely...I was content, and most importantly, I was filled with the Spirit. From the first opening hymn to the final closing prayer, after 2 days of lessons, classes, and personal experiences my heart was ready to burst! I felt so blessed and felt that I had learned SOOOOO much!!

I ended up taking so many notes that I came home and retyped them to try to make some sense of them and ended up with 9 types pages! I won't put you through all of it, but I will share three things that really stood out (and just know that while I'm putting three, there are SO many more things that I learned and that have strengthened my testimony of, and my relationship with, my Savior, Jesus Christ! Here we go!!

1. This is probably the single most incredible thing I learned during the conference. It was something that Elder Bednar taught us. When we talk of agency, or the ability to choose, we generally say that Heavenly Father provided us agency to choose between good and evil. In the counsel in Heaven, Satan presented a plan that would allow all of us to come to Earth, but we would have NO choice but we would all return to the Father, and the glory would be Satan's. However, Christ presented a plan in which we would come to Earth, not remembering where we came from (the presence of God) and we would be taught and given the opportunity to choose to follow the Savior and return to the Father through the Atonement. This was the accepted plan. WE WERE THERE! We CHOSE! A third of the hosts of heaven didn't agree and they CHOSE to follow Satan. 

So, the important part to remember is that we ALREADY chose to follow God because we are here in these earthly bodies (this was a VERY high level description of the Plan of Salvation (also known as the Plan of Happiness)...if you want to know more, please read this).

Okay, here is the point of what I learned! As I mentioned before, we generally talk about agency being the ability to choose between good and evil. What Elder Bednar taught was that it goes just a step further. We already made the choice to follow the Savior. He simply taught us that the reason we have agency now is to CHOOSE GOD! End of story. Satan has the ability to tempt us, but we are NOT to follow him. My choice is to ALWAYS choose God! There is nothing I want more! Hearing that in such simple terms has given me a feeling of power and as I make seemingly small changes in my life to choose God consistently, I feel His love surround me even more!! 

The next two points won't take as much explanation (or rambling), but to me they were equally powerful!

2. In Relief Society that Sunday, we were taught by Sister Munns whose husband is an General Authority in this area. She taught us that we will change the kingdom of God by our willingness to keep our covenants. One thing that came up so frequently during this conference was obedience. Obedience brings happiness and joy. Strict obedience brings MIRACLES! Imagine if EVERYONE would make and keep those covenants, not because they were required to, but because they WANTED to! We need to change our attitudes so this is the case!

3. I love statements like this one and you'll know why momentarily...are you ready? Here it is:
Righteous women are God's secret weapon!
I don't know what that does for you, but that gives me such a strong desire to be even better. I want to be found on the Lord's side. I want Him to be able to use me as an instrument in His hands to bring about much good. We each have divine errands that we are assigned and expected to fulfill. It is our privilege and responsibility to find what those things are and become the righteous women (or men if you are reading this) He needs. 

I will have to share more at another time, but for now I've got work to do! I hope that in some small measure these three points have touched your heart and it sparks a desire for change for you. Only you know what those things will be for you. Start where you are, and start now!! Today is the perfect time to make changes!

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