Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Refocusing my life, and dedicating to change

There's some habits I've struggled with for years that are still giving me grief. I'm in my third year as a college student and I still have the worst time trying to make myself do the homework for my classes, for example. The 180th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (hereafter referred to as "Conference" or "General Conference") took place a week and a half ago, and the speeches given really inspired me. I've been inspired many times before by different things, but this past time has been a little different. I've increased in knowledge, I've been inspired with a greater desire to change, and I've also felt empowered by receiving the very tools I need to make that change. Two talks in particular have stuck with me, and have only become more powerful reading them a week later (compared to when I first heard them in person): they are Elder D. Todd Christofferson's and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talks. Because I heard and read them in that order, I felt like Elder Christofferson's talk told me that I need to change, and President Uchtdorf's talk told me how. They have become very personally applicable and very meaningful. Here's how:

Read Elder Christofferson's talk, "Reflections on a Consecrated Life"
Elder Christofferson explained that we are responsible for how we choose to spend our time and resources. How we choose to spend those says a great deal about what kind of people we are. In application, I know, on one level, what my priorities are; on another level, there's a quote (I can't remember it exactly) that says our true priorities are revealed by what we spend our time doing. Cognitively, I know that my relationship with Heavenly Father is really important to me and should be my first priority; practically, is it really my first priority if it's the very last thing I squeeze into my day before crawling under the sheets? I need to make my actions consistent with my known priorities. And the idea of being accountable before my Maker for the time I've spent on facebook or engaging in other less-worthy pursuits makes me cringe just a bit. He's given me this whole earth! this life! and so many other wonderful blessings; there's nothing better I can find to do with my time than to idle it away, hitting "refresh" on facebook? I'm not as bad with facebook as I used to be, but I can fill in "facebook" with a myriad of other fluffy things I do that aren't great uses of my time. Rather than idle my time away in vain pursuits, I can get the most lasting, enduring peace and happiness from consecrating (dedicating) my life to serving the Lord. Elder Christofferson shared and explained five characteristics of a consecrated life: "purity, work, respect for one's physical body, service, and integrity." He expounded on those topics and included sanctification through the Atonement, time for healthy leisure, and increasing awareness of our accountability during our stewardship here on earth. I can't encapsulate everything he said, so my best advice would be to read the talk yourself, and read it with purpose. I got a lot out of it; especially the idea that I do need to reform my life. I'm a good person, but I can be (and ought to be) better.

Read President Uchtdorf's talk, "Of Things That Matter Most"
To be completely honest, I did cry some when I read this in my room this afternoon. President Uchtdorf's main message is to simplify and, particularly when faced with adversity, to focus on the essentials. What really helped me in conjunction with Elder Christofferson's talk was his list of important relationships. First, President Uchtdorf said, is our relationship with Heavenly Father; second, is the relationship we have with our family (as President David O. McKay said, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home"); third and fourth (one wasn't mentioned as being more important than the other) are our relationships with our fellowmen and ourselves. After Elder Christofferson's talk, this one felt like "Now that you know what you need to do, this is the directions for how to do it." I learned that I need to reorganize my life, and now I got instruction on knowing what to put first. Instead of leaving my scripture study for the last thing in my day, today it was the first thing I did after waking up. It was a lot more meaningful when I wasn't trying to rush through it before my head hit the pillow to sleep. I also need to find ways to make my family a higher priority in my life by finding ways I can strengthen my relationships with them while I live so far away. My heart aches when I think of how precious they are to me, and how important it is that they know that. The family I was born into and the family I will mother someday are THE biggest investments of my life, next to my devotion to Jesus Christ (but the two really go together). That needs to be reflected in my time and thoughts. I highly recommend reading this talk as well and applying it to your own life.

So, with the motivating and enabling influence of these talks, impressions I've had through personal revelation, my desires and willpower, and the power of God, I'm going to take the things I've learned and use them to make my life better. As I do that, my life will be more enjoyable, I will do more to serve God's children, and God will be glorified in the doing. He's the only thing that makes it all possible. And, His Atonement is the only reason we have hope for changing ourselves and obtaining joy in this life and in eternity.

Changes I'm working on applying:
- getting to bed every night by 12 or 12:15 (Friday nights are my exception)
- making my relationship with Heavenly Father my first priority by doing the things first that will strengthen that relationship
- doing more to show my family that I love them
- actively looking for ways I can serve others right now, every day
- sitting down and actually doing my homework (it makes a difference as to whether I'm doing it for myself or if I'm consecrating my labor to the Lord)

I'm not expecting instantaneous improvement, but already I'm getting better. I went to sleep at 12:30 last night and woke up at 8:45 this morning, and read my scriptures and worked on homework before going to class. I even went to the library last night to work on homework! Slowly (and with heaven's help), I'm getting where I want to be.

1 comment:

  1. that's totally awesome katie! that's why we're on this earth, to become stronger and better people day by day, and also to increase our understanding of the gospel.
    i agree, doing homework is always rough. my freshman year suffered so much because i didn't prioritize, but since i've really worked hard to get it done, my grades have gone up so much :)