On January 2, 2007, Wesley James Autrey, a construction worker from New York City was at the subway station at 35th and Broadway. He was there with his two girls, 4 and 6 years old. As they waited for the train, a young man nearby had a seizure which caused him to fall off the platform and onto the subway tracks. The man lay unconscious on the tracks with the train approaching 200 ft. away. Wesley said, he heard or felt a force out of nowhere say, “Don’t worry about your own. Don’t worry about your daughters. YOU CAN DO THIS!” And so he jumped down to try to help the man. Quickly he tried to grab his arm and pull him toward the platform, only for him to slip out of his reach. He tried a second time. Same thing.
Now, it’s one thing to jump onto Subway tracks as a train is approaching and attempt to save a man, but as Mr. Autrey realized that he wouldn’t be able to get the man on the platform, he did something at a whole other level of heroism. He pushed the young man, still seizing, down into the gaps between the tracks, grabbed the man’s arms, and lay on top of him as the train passed over them, with the screams of his girls ringing in his ears. The train grazed the back of Mr. Autrey’s leg and stopped with the second car above them. The young man came to with Mr. Autrey on top of him unaware of where he was. Mr. Autrey explained what happened, and he asked, “Are we in Heaven?” No, we’re very much alive, and Mr. Autrey yelled to the people on the platform that they were both, “OK.” (Carnegie Hero Fund – Wesley Autrey)
What an incredible act! I am not sure I would have had the faith to jump down there and leave my daughters alone on the platform. And I’m pretty sure I would have lacked the faith to remain down there on top of that young man as a Subway train ran over top of me? When Autrey and others like him that have exhibited selfless acts of heroism, have been asked, “How?” or “Why did you do it?” They are quick to mention that there wasn’t a lot of thought that when into it, they just had to act, and acted automatically. As Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out, such heroes follow the example of the Good Samaritan and reframe the question, from:
“If I stop to help this person, what will happen to me?” to “If I don’t stop to help
this person, what will happen to him/her?”
This is what I wish to speak about today, reframing the events and circumstances in our lives. To which side do we lean–the side of faith and action–or the side of fear and inaction? Fear has a tendency to keep us from action, to paralyze us towards not making positive or necessary changes.
I believe that one of the blessings and challenges of this mortal life is to be able to experience the gamut of human emotion. We will all experience fear, anger, sadness, joy, love, excitement, despair, anxiety, awe, and I believe that we should allow ourselves to feel these emotions. When we’re sad, acknowledge that sadness and let it pass through us, we don’t need to hang on tight to it and ask it to stay the weekend, but we also need not berate ourselves for feeling blue now and then. The same goes with fear. It’s kind of like in 2 Ne. 4, Nephi laments about his weaknesses, “Oh, wretched man that I am,” and he goes on a bit from there, but then he comes back to, “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. . . .” He feels the feels, but doesn’t wallow in the pit. The story of Nephi and his brothers going back to get the plates of brass illustrates the difference between how we interpret the circumstances or events in our lives and how leaning toward a faith vs. a fear mindset changes us.
Nephi vs. Laman’s Stories
Nephi, Laman, Lemuel, and Sam have gone back to Jerusalem to try to get the Plates of Laban. They cast lots, and the lot falls to Laman. Laman tries to go in and nicely ask for the plates, and he ends up having to run out for fear of his life. The scriptural account says, “And we began to be exceedingly sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return unto my father in the wilderness.” They think they’ve failed. I mean, they went in and asked for the plates, Laban called Laman a robber and Laman was able to escape with his life. But what does Nephi do? He tells a different story, and he does it pretty forcefully. In fact, he uses an unbreakable oath, “as the Lord liveth and as I live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us.” He continues and basically says and I paraphrase,
“it’s a really wise and important thing to have these Plates of Laban with us in the wilderness, we can’t give up. Hey, remember all the money, dishes, and nice things we had to leave behind at our house when we left? Dad wasn’t very popular at the time, so we didn’t have a moving sale. So, why don’t we go back and get all of our valuables and see if Laban will trade us the plates for all those riches?”
Pretty reasonable, right? And this story or explanation that Nephi told was accepted by his brothers. And then, although the scriptures don’t say it, but I’m guessing they were no longer exceedingly sorrowful and set about trying option 2.
We are all familiar with the story, they go before Laban and show him all that they are willing to give him. And from the scriptural account it makes it seem like Laban would be a fool to not take this offer. There’s no way those plates are worth as much as what is being offered to him. But, Laban is greedy, he thinks he can have his cake and eat it too, and so he sends his servants to kill Nephi and his brothers and take their riches, and he’ll keep the plates as well. The scriptures don’t explicitly say it but it’s hinted that in the flee for their lives, Laban gets their loot. This makes Laman and Lemuel extra mad. They were already emotionally raw toward their father for making them leave all their great stuff, and perhaps they thought they could always go back and might be able to get it, but now, even though it was “already likely lost” to them, they’re worked up again over having “lost their riches for real” this time. And the interesting part is that Laman–this was Laman’s story–Laman interpreted the events and told himself a story that fueled anger towards his father and Nephi, and he shared this story with Lemuel. And Lemuel “hearkened unto the words of Laman.” And so Laman and Lemuel start beating Nephi and Sam with a stick–blaming their losses on them.
Then an angel appears and basically says, “Umm, what are you doing, Laman, Lemuel? You’re telling and listening to the wrong stories. However, Nephi is telling the right stories so God is going to work through him unless you shape up. Now go back and God will put the guy who just tried to kill you and stole all your stuff into your power.” I find this interesting because the brothers were to go back and get the plates, that was their purpose. But that’s not what the Angel promised Laman and Lemuel, he promised that God would deliver Laban into their hands. God was aware that Laman and Lemuel were mad. They just had everything they owned stolen, perhaps they felt stupid or ashamed for having tried option 2. Perhaps they wanted revenge on Laban. In some way, I feel like the angel was conveying one of today’s popular t-shirt messages by saying to the older brothers, “Keep Calm and Listen to Nephi” and yeah, you’ll be able to give Laban “what he deserves.” So how do Laman and Lemuel react to seeing this angel, here it is:
“How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?”
What? Did I miss something? How does Nephi react?
“And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?”
Do you see the disconnect between how Laman and Lemuel and Nephi interpret the same circumstances that happen to them in entirely different ways? Do you see the difference in the types of stories that Laman and Lemuel tell themselves and the ones that Nephi, Lehi, and Sam tell themselves?
Jeffrey H. Larson, in a Speech at BYU taught:
“Your feelings are created by your thoughts and not the actual events. All experiences must be processed through your brain and given a conscious meaning before you experience any emotional response.”
We don’t usually just feel an emotion spontaneously; rather, we create our feelings from our thought processes. “Depending on our thoughts, we experience certain feelings.” –Jeffrey H. Larson
In high school and since, I have had a motto that I have attempted to live by: “Life is 10% what happens to me 90% how I react to it.” This thought and others have instilled into my mind the importance of mindset in my life. Mindset, or how we think about things and interpret them – or in essence the stories that we tell ourselves about our circumstances, is crucial to both our success in this life and our salvation in the next. Perhaps this is why faith, a scriptural component of mindset, is the first principle of the gospel. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul writes: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Having a sound mind reminds me of having the right mindset, interpreting what happens to us through the right lens. Realize that we can choose how we interpret the events in our lives, we can choose the stories that we tell ourselves, we can choose how we react. As Viktor Frankl, a psychologist and survivor of the horrific Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, said,
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
If we choose to react with faith and hope, with a calm assurance that the Lord will bless us, then as Pres. Monson has taught, ”The future is as bright as your faith.” Have hope, and the BoM teaches us to have hope that we will make it all the way: eternal life or bust! Don’t sell yourself short, tell yourself the stories that you will make it to the highest degree of the Celestial kingdom. And if you can’t in good faith tell yourself that, meaning you can’t take the sacrament and witness that you’re trying to always remember Christ and are willing to keep His commandments, then do what you know you need to do and get help in repenting so you can take the sacrament worthily and have this hope.
Neuroscience has taught us that the locus of fear in our brain takes place in the amygdala. The amygdala is part of what is called the midbrain. The midbrain essentially controls our reflex default settings. However, we also have a higher center, called the neocortex or frontal cortex. This area gives descending commands to the midbrain to interrupt, modulate or disregard the midbrain. In a reflex fashion we can feel fear—however—through active mental effort we have the capability to override or reinforce the midbrain.
In other words, our emotions, our suffering, is often determined more by the stories we tell ourselves and our interpretation of events in our lives, than by the actual circumstances themselves. So what stories are we telling ourselves? Are they faith-filled, Nephi-like ones? Does the Lord play a role in them? Or are they more like Laman and Lemuel’s, despite seeing an angel or the hand of God in our lives, we’re more focused on the problem or problems? We complain and despair, we give in to anxiety, we want to give up, because we already gave one or two efforts, that’s good enough, right? I mean, Laban, 50 servants, he’s a big kahuna. Laban vs. God, though (hands up like scales). This reminds me of a quote shared to me from an EFY counselor I had,
“Perhaps we need to stop telling God how big our problems are, and start telling our problems how BIG God is.”
Elder Bednar shared the following scripture story in which Alma was able to influence his people by helping them reinterpret the events that were happening to them and tell a story of faith rather than anxiety/despair: The setting here is that Alma and his people in the Land of Helam encounter an army of the Lamanites. The army has been lost after searching for the people of Limhi who have just escaped. As the Lamanite army comes upon Alma’s people, the people are terrified:
“But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be
frightened, but . . . should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them.. . . Therefore they hushed their fears.” (Mosiah 23:27-28).
Notice that Alma did not hush the people’s fears. Rather, Alma counseled his people to remember the Lord and the deliverance only He could bestow (see 2 Nephi 2:8). And knowledge of the Savior’s protecting watch-care enabled the people to hush their own fears. The arrival of a hostile army is a scary thing, they were justified in being frightened. Yet as they remembered the Lord and His deliverance and reminded themselves of this, or interpreted their situation through this lens, they hushed their own fears. They changed their mindset. They chose faith over fear. Only we are able to change our stories we tell ourselves, others can’t change them for us, unless we believe them ourselves.
We read in Mark 4:37-41:
After teaching the masses, Jesus and His disciples set sail for the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was a dark night and the Savior rested on the ship. In time “there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship.” Terrified, the disciples woke Him up in fear stating: “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” He calmly answered that: “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” He who had created the earth was again commanding the elements. In wonderment, His disciples asked, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Just as the Savior’s words brought peace and LIGHT to the Apostles in the boat during the great storm, the Savior and his teachings bring peace to us today and will help us develop a faith-based mindset:
“And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.”–Mark 13:7.
And from D&C 38:30: “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” So, prepare antidotes & inoculations to a fear-based mindset.
Antidote No. 1
Elder Bednar in his talk, And They Hushed Their Fears gives principles as antidotes to the negative aspects of fear for helping to draft faith-filled stories that we can tell ourselves and use to re-interpret fearful, difficult, anxiety or despair-producing events in our lives: The first is to look to Christ and press forward with faith in Him. I’ll sum this up with Trust in the Lord.
Hel. 12:1-2 “The Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him . . . doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people . . . .”
I love this scripture. It relates to parenting in so many ways. This is how I see the Lord trying to work in our lives, if we but let him.
Hard is Good
I read an article in the Ensign that took an enlightened look at anxiety and this person’s struggle with depression and highlighted the insight he gained from the account in Ether as the Jaredites built barges to cross the ocean to the Americas. I quote from this article:
“The Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.
“And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
“. . .When they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.
“And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind” (Ether 6:5-8).
These verses became personal to me. I felt that I was in my own barge, with winds of anxiety beating upon me and waves of depression swelling over me and burying me in the depths of despair. When I was “encompassed about” and would cry unto the Lord, I would break through the surface but would then be buried once more. I read verse 8 again: “The wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land . . . and thus they were driven forth before the wind”. Then it hit me. The very wind that caused the mountainous waves to bury the barges also blessed the Jaredites on their journey. I had been pleading with Heavenly Father to calm the wind and waves, but without them, I might not reach whatever “promised land” He was leading me to.
These verses changed my outlook on life. My anxiety and depression had increased my reliance on Heavenly Father. Without the wind and waves, I might never have come to know God as I have–and the Jaredites might never have reached the promised land. For now, a few years after this experience, my winds of anxiety are no longer gusting and my waves of depression have ceased to bury me. But if and when the tempest returns, I will call upon the Lord and be thankful, knowing that calm seas don’t carry barges to the promised land–stormy seas do.”
Brothers and Sisters, sometimes the Lord may calm the winds and waves of our lives, but sometimes He uses those very winds and waves to bless us to reach our “promised land”– our righteous goals or desires. President Haymond referred to this same scriptural account and that these stormy seas were unable to sink the Jaredites because their barges had been made tight. Using this analogy, Pres. Haymond has counseled us to become a temple-tight, temple attending people.
How we look at our trials can help us face our fears and tell ourselves faith-filled stories of the circumstances of our lives: Jeffrey A. Thomspon, in a speech at BYU talked about how zookeepers saw their jobs helped them to deal with the negatives that job entailed:
“I chose to study zookeepers because they are passionate about the work they do, even though they make little money and have few opportunities for career advancement. Learning about what “calling” means to zookeepers was eye-opening. As you might expect, zookeepers find their work very meaningful. They care for their animals as if they were their own children, and they feel great satisfaction when they can enrich their animals’ lives and maintain their health. They believe deeply in conservation and see themselves as educators of the public about species preservation. By and large, they are almost outrageously satisfied with their work. But is every day fun for them? Hardly. When zookeepers talked about their work as a calling, they spoke not just about satisfaction but also about sacrifice–caring for sick animals in the middle of the night, doing unsavory work, foregoing a comfortable living, and the list goes on. I learned something tremendously important from my study of zookeepers. For them, the pain and burdens and sacrifice were not threats to their sense of calling–they were part of it. The work was meaningful because of the trials and burdens. That is an important lesson. We can’t expect deep meaningfulness from our calling unless we are willing to assume its burdens as well.”
The same is true in our lives, we can’t expect deep meaningfulness in our lives unless we are willing to assume its burdens as well. Dealing with struggle, burdens, and doing good despite inconvenience, goes back to Lehi’s sermon on opposition in 2 Ne. 2. Without the trials in life, without the times when the wind and waves evoke fear in our hearts, without the difficult, life would be less meaningful, our satisfaction at coming back into the presence of the Father having used the cleansing power of the atonement would be less rich without having had to overcome or struggle. It’s not going to be easy or convenient for anyone, and that’s probably a good thing because that means that it will be a big deal for anyone and everyone who makes it back. Truly a “great and terrible Day of the Lord”.
Inconvenience & Effort
Today in carrying out the work of the Lord we are often asked to sacrifice convenience. Visiting the homes of families who we have been asked to watch-over takes time away from our own families. Elder Vaughan J. Featherstone said,
“Opportunities for Christian acts of service do not always come at convenient times. . . . I promise you that most of the service you render to the Lord will come at times not convenient to you.”
Is it convenient to get up around 5:30 am to get to early morning seminary? It’s often not convenient to be asked to speak in church or to serve in a ward or stake calling. It’s not convenient to make priesthood ministering or visiting teaching visits. Has it ever been convenient to pull over to help someone on the side of the road? Is it convenient to serve a mission for 18 months to 2 years?
President Harold B. Lee said, “the true Church is intended not only to comfort the afflicted, but to afflict the comfortable.”
The second antidote to fear in our lives is Effort. We must put forth effort to overcome inconvenience. In a recent “Time Out for Women” in Salt Lake City where Sheri Dew spoke. Sister Dew cited President Russel M. Nelson as saying:
“The Lord likes effort! He could have said to Moses, ‘I’ll meet you halfway.’ But Moses had to go all the way to the top of Mt. Sinai. He required effort from Moses and Joshua and Joseph Smith.”
The Lord likes effort. He asked Lehi to send his sons back to get the plates after they’d already traveled 3 days’ journey into the wilderness. We must have faith and believe that our goals or what we must to do change, repent, or improve is possible, otherwise we will not generate the action and desire necessary to do the work to achieve our goal, make the change, repent, or improve. And Pres. Monson taught, “It is not enough to want to make the effort and to say we’ll make the effort. We must actually make the effort. It’s in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals. If we constantly put our goals off, we will never see them fulfilled.”
Pres. Monson shared the following story,
“In July of 1976, runner Garry Bjorklund was determined to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team’s 10,000-meter race which would be run at the Montreal Olympics. Halfway through the grinding qualifying race, however, he lost his left shoe. What would you and I do if that were our experience? I suppose he could have given up and stopped. He could have blamed his bad luck and lost the opportunity of participating in the greatest race of his life, but this champion athlete did not do that. He ran on without his shoe. He knew that he would have to run faster than he had ever run in his life. He knew that his competitors now had an advantage that they did not have at the beginning of the race. Over that cinder track he ran, with one shoe on and one shoe off, finishing third and qualifying for the opportunity to participate in the race for the gold medal. His own running time was the best he had ever recorded. He put forth the effort necessary to achieve his goal.”
If we will put forth the effort and overcome our fear of inconvenience, and Trust in the Lord and labor to come to know him, . . . Elder Holland taught, “as you labor to know him, and to know that he knows you; as you invest your time–and inconvenience–in quiet, unassuming service, you will indeed find that “his angels [have] charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”
Just remember that that path is strait (meaning narrow) and not straight (meaning un-turning) and narrow. So the scriptures emphasize the narrowness of the way, it may wind up and down and circle back and go through all sorts of unsavory times and trials and it may not make sense at times or be convenient, but I know our individual path if we stay on it and let the Lord guide us through where it takes us will be for our welfare and happiness. And this leads us to have Faith and Hope.
– 2 Ne. 31:20 “Wherefore ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.”
How do you strengthen faith? We’ve all heard this–church answers, right? By reading the scriptures or conference talks. By living the commandments. By praying and asking for faith. It is in using or flexing our “faith muscles” that our faith grows.
The Law of the Pendulum
A professor stood at the front of a class and said, “The Law of the Pendulum states that a pendulum cannot rise higher than the level at which it began.” He then asked the students if they understood the law. They said, yes. He stated it again, “The Law of the Pendulum states that a pendulum cannot rise to a higher level than where it began.” And then he asked, “Do you believe it?” One arrogant student said, “Duh, it’s only obvious.” The professor then asked this student to come forward. He asked him to stand on a chair at one end of the room against the wall. He then pulled back a curtain at the front of the classroom and there was an iron cable hanging from the ceiling with 3 45 lb. weights hanging from the end. The professor had constructed a very large and perfect pendulum. He grabbed the weights walked over to the side of the room with the young man standing on the chair and he positioned the weights with the cable tight such that they nearly touched the young man’s nose, and he said, “The Law of the Pendulum states that a pendulum cannot rise higher than the level at which it began. Do you understand this law?” Yes, the boy said with more tredipation. “Well, do you believe it?” Just then the Professor let go of the pendulum and the pendulum swung to one side and as it came back, that young man jumped from off his chair. The pendulum swung back and it didn’t hit the wall. The professor, on this day, “though wasn’t teaching the class about the Law of the Pendulum; he was teaching the class about a different law, the Law of Action. And the Law of Action says that it does not matter what we say we believe; our real beliefs are revealed by how we act.” (Take the Stairs by Rory Vaden)
The real evidence of our faith in Christ and our ability to overcome fear and inconvenience in our life is witnessed by our efforts–by how we act.
One aspect of fear that as human beings we are uncomfortable with, and perhaps especially so within the church, is uncertainty.
Elder Lloyd K. Newell taught,
“If you are fearful because you feel powerless, I invite you to turn to the Lord. Draw upon the power of the covenants you have made and are keeping. Trust in God’s power, for it is mightier than any power on earth. God’s words to ancient Israel are also His words to you: “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:13)
Erin Holmes, a professor at BYU recently spoke on uncertainty. She shared:
“Some of my students this semester shared a blog post with me titled “You’re Not Messing Up God’s Plan for You.” The author taught, “It’s tempting to think that God has some master plan that He’s measuring me against, and if I take one misstep I’ve missed my chance for happiness forever.”
Sister Holmes continued, “I can relate to that fear. When life doesn’t seem to match the ideals we envision, we may struggle just as this author did, worrying that we don’t measure up or fearing that we are disappointing God. The author of the blogpost continued: But you know what? As I’ve examined that mindset, I’ve learned that I need a better understanding of God and what the term “His plan for me” means.
“I’m learning that God is much less a divine dictator who demands perfect compliance to a predetermined plan for our individual lives and much more a co-creator with us of the kind of lives we want to live.”
Sister Holmes echoed, “We become co-creators with Him in our lives by making and keeping covenants. The author of this blog post then asked, “What is the source of fear?”
He answered: I think it is rooted in the assumption . . . that I must solve all my problems and face all my challenges alone, using my own resources. That is frightening, because deep in my heart I know how limited those resources are… Knowing that I am not capable of changing myself or my circumstances for the better, I stand frozen in fear.
Fear comes from the false belief that we are all alone. — (that we are fixed, stopped,
Sister Holmes taught, “Scripture says in D&C 90:24, “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good”. This doesn’t mean all things are good, but for the meek and faithful, things–both positive and negative–work together for good, and the timing is the Lord’s. We wait on Him, sometimes like Job in his suffering, knowing that God “maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole” [Job 5:18]. A meek heart accepts the trial and the waiting for that time of healing and wholeness to come.”
I’ve talked about faith and fear and how we can interpret the events in our lives through a lens of faith. We can strengthen our faith by reading the words of Christ and Trusting in Him. We increase our faith when we put forth effort to overcome fear and inconvenience. We increase our faith when in the face of uncertainty we trust that we can co-create an abundant life with Christ by making and keeping gospel covenants. We become comfortable with taking a step or two into the darkness before we see the light that guides–we become comfortable with some uncertainty.
When it comes to interpreting the events of our life through a lens of faith, I really like this metaphor given by Elder Bruce C. Hafen. Level One he compares to people who are unaware of or refuse to see realities, while Level Two, focuses only on the pessimistic realities.
“Consider the metaphorical image of “lead, kindly light.” At level one, people either do not or cannot see that there are both a kindly light and an encircling gloom, or that if there are both, that there is no real difference between the two. At level two, the difference is acutely apparent, but one’s acceptance of the ambiguity may be so wholeheartedly pessimistic as to say, “Remember that the hour is darkest just before everything goes completely black.” How different are these responses from that calm but honest prayer at level three,
“Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;
lead thou me on. . . .
I do not ask to see
the distant scene–one step enough for me.”
(Hymns, no. 112.)
So what’s the take home message? We all feel fear. Some are just better at not allowing it to stay around for long. We hush our fears, by looking to Christ, trusting in Him and using His Gospel to mold the stories we tell ourselves and to interpret the events of our lives. We combat fear through the Gospel Covenants that we make and keep thereby co-creating with Christ an abundant life. It is my prayer that we may choose faith and hope, rely on the Lord, and hush the anxiety and despair aspects of fear. Doing so will require us to ACT, to put forth real effort often when things are not convenient or comfortable.
We are blessed to have the restored fullness of the Gospel to guide our lives. Life is hard. I believe that each of us will be tested with trials that will bury us as it were in the depths of the ocean, that will try and test our faith and courage as Abraham’s of old was tested when asked to sacrifice Isaac.
Life is harder though, when the stories we tell ourselves aren’t the ones the Lord would have us tell ourselves–when our mindset is more toward doubt and fear than faith and effort and action. May we stay close to the Gospel, may we be quick to do good, to follow the heroic example of our Savior, be temple-tight, and stay on the old-ship Zion as the storms of life and the waves of the sea push each of us towards our own Promised Land. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.