• maryack

Forgetting to Remember and How Come Follow Me Helps Me to Remember

I don’t believe the world would think my life accomplishments are particularly deserving of fanfare. At least, I was told that once by a family member.

My family lived in New Jersey where my father retired from the Army. Our family had moved around a lot and my alcoholic parents were doing their best to raise five kids in the midst of their disease. I would categorize them as very neglectful but not physically abusive in any way. In 1966 my roots were pretty shallow. I was insecure and headed for certain trouble.

It was at this point that the Lord took mercy on me as the missionaries tracted us out. My mother miraculously let them in the front door. I joined the Church in 1967 at the ripe old age of 13. That little Branch of faithful Saints became my beloved community and support. This one decision by a troubled and unhappy teenager turned into a life-saving act of supreme significance to the course of my whole life.

My altered path included becoming:

  • A BYU Graduate

  • A Returned Missionary

  • An eternal covenant Wife

  • A proud Mother

  • A doting Grandmother

  • A so-so housekeeper

  • An amateur Student of the Scriptures,

  • A recovering addict as an obese woman with an addicted, unhealthy relationship to food. My recovery looks just like any other addicts’.

  • And I’m a recovering self-hypercritic rescued by the love of God when I was 63 years old!

I’m extremely imperfect, one of creation’s weak vessels. And yet, His blessings have always-and continue to-decidedly surpass my efforts.

In 2018 I watched General Conference prayerfully and with great enthusiasm (I have always loved General Conference!)! When President Nelson introduced the Come Follow Me curriculum, I made an immediate, conscious decision to obey the call and to trust God’s promises. I was ready because God had prepared me.

President Nelson taught that Come Follow Me has:

  1. The potential to unleash the power of families”. Yes! As we unite as a family in focused, prayerful, inspired study our covenantal path bonds are definitely strengthened!

  2. Then-as I follow through to “conscientiously and carefully transform my home into a sanctuary of faith and learning, over time my Sabbath days have become a delight. We make much better Sabbath Day choices these days.

  3. And, the influence of the adversary in my life and in my home has decreased as we work to keep the negative influences outside our doors.

His promises have been true and my testimony of the revelatory Church has increased exponentially.

For me personally, Come Follow Me has lifted my life grace to grace, grace for grace throughout 2019. My journey is unique to me, my personality, and my circumstances but there are underlying principles at work here for us all!

I’m a semi-retired empty nester. My 2-year-old granddaughter comes to our home 3 days a week for full days of ministering, playing, and snuggling. Emma is my little pal and companion. I don’t have time to enumerate the blessings she brings to me. On those three days, I get up early to get an hour of Come Follow Me study under my belt before she comes.

The other four days of my week are quite different.

After I roll out of bed, before I do anything else in my day (even getting dressed sometimes), I go to my office (the first exclusive study, personal space I’ve ever had), I pray and I study-often for hours at a time.

Most of you probably don’t have the same good fortune of large blocks of daily time to settle in and lose yourselves in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful to have so much time but it’s a recent development in my life. Our five children are all grown and out of the house and I no longer work outside the home. There are definitely times and seasons!

The underlying priniciple here is that the Spirit leads me in my study, just as He will lead you. This is key. This focused time fills my life to overflowing with the joy of the Spirit. But whatever your time availability, the Holy Ghost will lead you to your own spiritual practices. And your heart will be filled. I know it!

I’m able to take doctrines and dive in as deep as I like. And I really LIKE digging and wrestling with the word!. For me this is the very definition of FUN! My current Come Follow

My study methods go like this:

  1. I read and think about the assigned scriptures on my own to see what the Spirit may have for me. This year-at first-Paul and his epistles were almost incomprehensible to me. I’m struggling with Revelation right now. Principle. As God fills my heart and I’m willing to seek and strive, the more the Spirit is able to teach me. Bruce and I have grown to love Paul. Also, we co-teach a Young Single Adult Sunday School class, so as I study, I try to hold each one of these young people in my mind and in my heart pulling out what I feel inspired will be significant to their real lives.These Young Adults are unbelievably busy with work and school and are making monumental decisions about how their lives are going to look. Is it possible for them to find spiritual life balance? They tell us that this is a major challenge.

  2. I go to the Come Follow Me curriculum and review these materials. The Ensign and provides additional study materials every month.

  3. I then branch out to find other insights and viewpoints. There are a plethora of resources online--which is wonderful and dangerous at the same time. I always go to LDS resources and thinkers first.

  4. I’m an old-fashioned journal keeper and writing down my impressions, what the Word and the Spirit teach me, action items, etc. is key to my process and to remembering. I have journals all over the place for different purposes.

  5. Bruce and I meet to exchange ideas, feelings, impressions, etc. I’m extremely fortunate that he’s deeply discerning and perceptive spiritually.

  6. I’m as consistent day to day as possible. Among other purposes of the Spirit, I have to add to the list that the Spirit is a driving force for consistency.

Why is consistency so important?

I’ve come to realize that the major obstacle to my ability to live in Christ is that I’m always forgetting to remember. If I go without routinely tapping into the source, my decisions go from best (those inspired by the Spirit) to better, to good, and, occasionally to downright bad. (Think of Elder Oaks’ talk, ‘Good, Better, Best’)

How memory works isn’t a big mystery. We tell our memories what’s important to store by how many times we practice retrieving the information. The more times we practice—the more times we touch the information--the more permanently the information will be stored.

Why do you suppose God has us repeat the ritualized remembrance of His Son at the Sacrament table week after week, month after month, year after year. Notice that this hasn’t ever been altered amidst many changes. It must be critically imperative to always remember the Savior so that we remember our covenants and the Holy Ghost can be our sustained companion.

We all heard President Nelson warn us that: “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” I think this is so significant that I posted it on my office wall. I need to remember this every single day.

A once-weekly reminder during Sacrament meeting is inadequate to the charge to ALWAYS remember. Why not? A couple of talks in the last General Conference noted the cacophony of voices in the world vying for our attention.

One of my favorites is the one Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave to kick off Oct. 2019 General Conference: “Sisters and brothers, through the incessant din and drumbeat of our day, may we strive to see Christ at the center of our lives, of our faith, and of our service. That is where true meaning lies. And if some days our vision is limited or our confidence has waned or our belief is being tested and refined—as surely it will be—may we then cry out the louder, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” (and then he concluded) I promise with apostolic fervor and prophetic conviction that He will hear you and will say, soon or late, “Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.” I believe this with all of my soul.

President Nelson pointed out that “The adversary is increasing his attacks on faith and upon us and our families at an exponential rate. To survive spiritually, we need counter-strategies and proactive plans.” To be effective, however, these plans and strategies can’t be born into existence through our own efforts or emanate solely from our own brains. These strategies must be born of God and must enter into our hearts and minds through His Word, His Spirit, and His prophets.

God is the agent of change in my life. Not me. He is the actor. He is the source of my capacity and disposition to sustain remembering that leads to transformation. Come Follow Me shows up with resonating power in this--creating a strong structure of remembrance. I am convicted that Come Follow Me is a revelatory program delivered to His children and that we are enabled to obey and persist only by grace and through the Spirit-line upon line and precept upon precept.

God initiates, we respond. EVERYTHING emanates from God:

  1. He fills my heart as I receive Him and,

  2. He creates impulses to do good.

  3. As I act upon those impulses directing His love outward to family, friends and neighbors

  4. It’s then I remember. I progress. I grow. And I experience joy.

One particular spiritual practice overarches and underpins my life. Remembering Him requires prayer. Prayer itself is a gift from God. We don’t know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us!

In Alma 34, Amulek powerfully urges us to humble ourselves, to continue in prayer--over our fields, our flocks. In our houses over our families. Against our enemies. But this isn’t all. He said we MUST pour out our souls in our closets, in our secret places, and in our wilderness-this is a whole other interesting topic to explore! And when we’re not doing all this crying out, our hearts should be full drawn out in prayer continually for our own welfare and for the welfare of those around us. Yes! Yes! Yes!

I created a sign that hangs in my office (a remembering strategy.):

Always Remember Him.

It has to start with meaningful, focused prayer.

Father, I am willing to always remember Your Son. Help me to do it

(FYI I ask Alexa to remind me of many things like:

  • morning and evening prayer,

  • when to take my meds,

  • even when to water the Christmas tree.)

I’m that distracted!

For 2020 my pattern is going to be much the same although I intend to remain open to the tweaking and inspiration of the Spirit.

I’ve already purchased the Maxwell Institute Study Edition of The Book of Mormon for my husband and me. I’ve downloaded the schedule for the year. I have a new journal for recording scriptural insights.

I’m searching for Book of Mormon resources online-Church sources first.

  • will always be my first go-to.

  • Then to LDS voices I trust. I personally love Hugh Nibley and his teachings about the Book of Mormon in particular.

  • I’m excited to see what Greg Matsen of CWIC Media will have to say.

  • Book of Mormon Central has been really valuable to me this year and I’ll go there in 2020.

  • Maxwell Institute out of BYU is a favorite source generally.

  • BYU Speeches and Symposiums are always interesting.

I go to Used Bookstores Online to find books recommended by trusted others. I just barely got an old Hugh Nibley book called An Approach to the Book of Mormon, This book was used as the Melchizadek Priesthood course of study for 1957. President David O. McKay understood that this was going to require stretching to understand, but that’s exactly what he wanted.

Finally, how do I stay motivated? I’ve touched on it already.

I believe that the more God does, the more I’m able to do. I trust Him to continue to inspire me and to reveal to me what He wants me to do. It’s through His enabling power that I have the capacity to persist, to obey, and move my life towards Him.

Merry Christmas. And God bless us every one!

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