October 24, 2012

Spiritual Insights

Closeup of my favorite painting of Joseph and Mary, "The Road to Bethlehem" by Joseph Brickey. Full version here.

I have two spiritual insights to share from last night.

1- From Institute

We had a guest teacher at Institute (Institute = mid-week religious instruction for young adults in the LDS Church), and we studied from Luke 1 in the Bible. We discussed the attributes of Mary, and the list included:

  • humility
  • faith (Seriously! The way she just accepted what the angel told her when he said she would conceive and bear a son who would be called the Son of the Most High and then basically just said God's will be done? That's faith if ever I read about it. I probably would have been passed out on the floor, and the angel would have had to scrape me up with a spatula first.)
  • obedience (Obviously, she was living the commandments, or she wouldn't have received this sacred call.)
  • courage (Holy cow, did Mary have courage! She had courage to live God's commandments, even when so much of Israel was apostate at the time. (Learned that last night!) And courage to be OK with being a pregnant, unmarried virgin in that society at that time! Woah.)
  • knowledge, understanding of the gospel (She was obviously acquainted with the prophecy of Christ's birth, so that wasn't the part that maybe blew her away. Just maybe the part that SHE was to bring him into the world? IDK.)
  • selfless (She had to sacrifice a lot to fulfill her calling as Christ's earthly mother.)
  • sober (As in mature, not as in "not drunk.")
  • trustworthy (God sure trusted her with a lot!)
  • pure, virtuous (This one doesn't really need an explanation.)
  • righteous, prepared (She was already living the commandments and on the right path in her life.)

Try to think of these attributes and of how Mary might have felt as you watch this very brief, but very excellent, video:

Learning from the Bible last night, I gained a greater appreciation for Mary's role in God's plan. We do not worship Mary in our Church, but we hold her in extremely high regard as the earthly mother of the Son of God. I can't imagine how she must have felt A- to have an angel visit her, and B- to hear the incredible message he brought. Surely, she was a virtuous, righteous, obedient, faithful daughter of God. I hope in my lifetime to cultivate even a particle of her great faith.

2- From the Priesthood Session of this past General Conference

The First Presidency of the Church (via)

Last night, I also listened to most of the Priesthood Session of General Conference. Just like the women have their own session of General Conference, the men have their own (called the Priesthood session), and men in the Church ages 12 and older can attend. All the talks I've listened to so far were beautiful, but I'd like to share a little from Elder D. Todd Christofferson's talk, entitled "Brethren, We Have Work to Do."

This talk focused on the role of men. He said that often, as the role of women in society is elevated, this occurs at the expense of the role of men. Men are often portrayed in the media and popular culture as blundering, ignorant, unintelligent, and foolish. He discussed how a good man should act and what/how/who he should be.


I thought of all the good men I know -- my dad, my brothers, my friends, my church leaders, the EQ of my ward -- and how much I appreciate them. I know as women, it's often easy or tempting to hate on all the men, but guys, they're really not that bad. :) In fact, they're often pretty great! There's a lot of pressure on them to "man up" and "be men" in the way the world wants, but Elder Christofferson encouraged priesthood holders to give service in the church, missionary work, family history, temple work, lifting one's brethren, in society, in our communities, and -- most importantly -- in the home. I know this invitation to serve and develop Christlike attributes is also extended to all men everywhere, regardless of Church membership.

Elder Christofferson said,

"[W]e must be men that women can trust, that children can trust, and that God can trust. Brethren, we have a work to do... 

Prepare to be a good husband and father; prepare to be a good and productive citizen; prepare to serve the Lord, whose priesthood you hold...

The Church and the world and women are crying for men, men who are developing their capacity and talents, who are willing to work and make sacrifices, who will help others achieve happiness and salvation. They are crying, 'Rise up, O men of God!' God help us to do it."

And I thought, That is the kind of man I hope to marry. I'm grateful for a church organization that helps and encourages us to be our very best selves, to develop our divine talents and attributes to give service in the kingdom of God, and to live our lives in the Lord's way. I'm so glad my baby brothers got to hear such beautiful counsel. And EC, wherever you are, I hope you were watching that Conference!

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