Thursday, October 27, 2011

My talk, 23 October 2011

Aloha! What a wonderful blessing choice is; to choose your own topic for a talk! Each of the children chose their own favorite talk. Their choices are a peek into their personalities.
· Cora loves being a girl, loves being a daughter and loves her dad.
· Afton loves her family, loves being helpful and enjoys using technology to read and do research.
· Kirkham loves fairness and equality and is not afraid to stand up for what he thinks is right.
· Heath likes to work hard and he has a big heart

I am thankful bishop gave each of us the opportunity to choose a favorite talk from Conference. My favorite talk was “Choose Eternal Life” by Randall K. Bennett. You may recall that he talked about a certain vacation to the ocean in which he disregarded warning signs and decided a little swim would be refreshing. Instead he quickly found himself far from shore and struggling against the strong current. Fortunately he was rescued by a Lifeguard who was a stronger swimmer and knew how to avoid the currents to get back to shore. He said “That day I made a poor choice that produced potentially serious consequences for me and for my family.”

As I’ve pondered his words for the last few weeks I have given a great deal of thought to choices I have made throughout my life and the consequences, some good, some bad, that those choices have had on me and my family. Reflecting on these choices I think it is interesting how one seemingly small, inconsequential choice can have a huge effect; like a pebble thrown into a calm river can make ripples big enough to touch both shores.

In the summer of my 18th year I was preparing to leave my hometown in Washington State to attend my first year at BYU. One Sunday a young man in the ward, a BYU sophomore and Return Missionary, came into my Sunday School Class and announced that he could help any of the freshman who needed help setting up their schedules. At that time it was all done on the phone and it could be a little confusing. It was a kind gesture and there were a couple of us that would be attending. By the end of the week I found myself over at his home asking for help.

My schedule was in good shape and I was leaving just a few days later but this young man gave me his phone number “just in case I needed anything”. A week later I called him looking for a bodyguard of sorts—I was having trouble with an ex-boyfriend. He took care of the problem and has been stuck with me ever since. That young man is now my husband. How glad I am he made the small choice to offer help to a group of students. And how glad I am that I accepted that help.

Not all my choices have had such a happy ending. Some small choices I have made have caused me trouble for years and sometimes I have found it difficult to change. Elder Bennett said, “We all face adversity. We all have temptations. We all have made mistakes. It is never too hard or too late to make correct choices. Repentance is one of those critical correct choices.”

He suggested four things to ask ourselves in evaluating choices and their consequences. He says, “You might ask yourself:
1. Am I seeking divine direction through daily scripture study, pondering and prayer OR have I chosen to be so busy or apathetic that I don’t take time to study the words of Christ, ponder the, and converse with my Heavenly Father?
2. Am I choosing to follow the counsel of living prophets of God OR am I following the worldly ways and the opposing opinions of others?
3. Am I seeking the guidance of the Holy Ghost daily in what I choose to think about, feel and do?
4. Am I consistently reaching out to assist, serve, or help rescue others?”

I have found in my life that, when tempted to do something I know I shouldn’t do but still want to do, that sometimes it is difficult to really see or care about what the consequence is going to be. A few years back I decided that I needed to think through the whole process before making some questionable choices. I needed to ask myself “what would happen next?” I have used this in evaluating many choices. For instance a small example: I had some minor health problems that could be dramatically improved by regular exercise. 

My doctor told me to exercise, my parents told me to exercise, my husband encouraged me to exercise but I hate exercise and so I didn’t do it. I didn’t get any better; my health problems persisted. I failed to fully grasp the consequences I was facing. But when I took the time to think what would happen next I was able to see this was not something I wanted to continue. If I didn’t exercise what would happen next? my problems would persist. What would happen next? my discomfort would increase. What would happen next? my discomfort would affect my mood and my ability to cope. What would happen next? I wouldn’t be able to be as patient or have the energy to deal with my family and others. What would happen next? My children wouldn’t have the mother that they needed. What would happen next? Without proper guidance and understanding from me they might make questionable choices and there would be undue stress put upon my husband. What would happen next? I didn’t want to think any further –those consequences were enough—I decided I needed to exercise.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf has warned,“The longer we delay corrective action, the larger the needed changes become, and the longer it takes to get back on the correct course—even to the point where a disaster might be looming.” One choice really can change so much. Elder Bennett again said “In reality we have only two eternal choices, each with eternal consequences: choose to follow the Savior of the world and thus choose eternal life with our Heavenly Father or choose to follow the world and thus choose to separate ourselves from Heavenly Father Eternally.” If we are separated from our Heavenly Father that means we are also separated from our family eternally.

Elder Bennet ends his talk “My dear brothers and sisters, your eternal destiny will not be the result of chance but of choice. It is never too late to begin to choose eternal life!” And I echo that same thought. It is never too late to begin to choose eternal life. I am so grateful for the healing power of the atonement. I know that through Jesus Christ our Saviour we can be made whole again and that by making small correct choices daily we are choosing eternal life.

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