Our thanksgiving was quiet as our daughters were out of town. But it gave us plenty of time to consider all that we are thankful for. We’re thankful for our families, our jobs, our safe homes, and our working cars. We’re grateful for our comfy beds, good health, a 401K, and a number of temporal things. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints, we have a special knowledge of the plan of happiness. As I consider the endless list of blessings for which I am thankful, I know who it is that I am thankful to – Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven. Because of them, I have an abundant life. Instead of breaking under the weight of stress and heartache, I am strengthened by his generous power. And instead of getting beaten down by difficult life circumstances, emotional turmoil, or all of the other troubling things in this world, I have joy.
Because of him. Death has no sting, the grave has no victory. We can start again and again and again because of him. Guilt becomes peace, regret becomes relief, despair becomes hope; because of him we have second chances, clean slates, and new beginnings. There is no such thing as the end because of him.
We all face trials in this life, ranging from annoying to utterly unbearable. But because of Jesus Christ’s atonement, our trials have a purpose and our broken hearts can be mended.
Imagine any difficult trial you’ve ever faced in your life. When I imagine the toughest situations I’ve faced and the saddest feelings I’ve felt, I’m so grateful that I could turn to the Savior for help. I imagine what those trials would have been like having no one to turn to and I shudder at the thought.
My knowledge of the gospel, of God’s plan for his children, of his power and infinite wisdom, and the gift of the atonement are so utterly freeing that I’m almost dangerously unafraid. I’m so confident that the Lord will provide a way for me that I take more steps into the darkness and the unknown than I perhaps should. My testimony gives me courage to face life’s inevitable trials. And my testimony was given to me by a loving God who has made himself present in my life time and time again. Including times when I did nothing to deserve his help.
I am so grateful – not only for all of the things the Lord does for me – but for the simple fact that I know it was Him. I know he is there.But there are so many people in this world who do not know God.
President Monson said this: “Gratitude is a divine principle. Do we remember to give thanks for the blessing we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel gods love. Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful. If we will but pause and contemplate our blessings, we can lift ourselves and others as well. When we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. May we ever reflect our gratitude for our lord and savior Jesus Christ. He taught us how to pray, he taught us how to live, he taught us how to die. His life is a legacy of love. Let us follow him. Let us emulate his example. Let us obey his words. By so doing, we give to him the divine gift of gratitude.”
President Monson tells us that with gratitude, we may have the following blessings:
- Gratitude helps us to recognize the many things we already have (“gratitude turns what we have into enough.”)
- Gratitude unlocks the doors of heaven, enabling us to receive more blessings.
- Having gratitude helps us feel God’s love (for ourselves and for others).
- Having gratitude helps us lift ourselves.
- Having gratitude helps us to lift others.
Then President Monson says let us reflect our gratitude to the lord by following him – by obeying his word – by trusting his example.
Our gratitude should compel us to ACT. To follow the lord, to obey his word, to live his commandments – that is our “Thank You” to the Lord. Is it enough to just KNOW of Christ and his atonement and be grateful? Certainly it isn’t.
If I were to see someone hungry and starving, knowing that just down the street there was a free food truck, I would tell them about the truck. I know the way to fill their belly. It is the same with the gospel.
Having experienced difficult trials in my own life and finding relief through the atonement, I want people struggling with grief and heartache to know where they too can find relief.
We can express our gratitude to the Savior by sharing his love and message with others. Saying “THANK YOU GOD” by helping more of his children find peace through his gifts. Missionary work is hard and vulnerable. We’re taking something so precious to us, sharing it with others, and hoping they don’t laugh at us. I admire missionaries who knock on doors to share the gospel knowing that they’ll be mocked from time to time. Knowing that their are broadway plays, movies, and tv shows that make jokes about the work they’re doing. As regular men and women in street clothes, it can be challenging finding moments to intentionally share the gospel with others. We aren’t walking up to strangers and asking if they’d like to hear a message. We’re opening up our hearts to people that we interact with regularly, people who we want to be accepted by, people who we care about. So even though we know how good and real and powerful and life changing the gospel is, it’s still scary to share with others.
I went to high school with a handful of other Mormon kids. We were definitely the minority. But in Utah, I know only a few people here who aren’t members of the church. Opportunities for introducing the gospel to people are pretty infrequent where we live. A majority of our fellowshipping has to do with mending and strengthening relationships with our friends and members of the church who’ve been hurt by others. We’re building a new culture that is loving and patient with people that are different than what we are used to. We’re striving to see others through Christ’s eyes, to love them as he does, and to share with them our testimonies and His spirit. Forget all of the what-if’s and reasons why you should just keep to yourself – and find ways to spread the light of Christ. If we can put aside our own limitations and remember that God has none, we can go forward sharing the gospel knowing that HE will do what needs to be done when we offer ourselves as tools in his hands.
If you’re nervous about putting yourself out there like I am, you can invite the spirit into your conversations and relationships with others without blatantly putting people on the spot with awkward invitations and giftings of the book of mormon – though there are definitely great times to do these things as well.
1. Prepare for opportunities. The Lord can better use you to further his work if you know a thing or two about the gospel, the scriptures, current doctrine, etc.
2. Pray for opportunities and pray to recognize your opportunities.
3. Share your good news. If you’ve recognized a blessing from the Lord, share it with others and give credit where credit is due.
4. Do not censor yourself. If you have a spiritual thought in conversation, share it. Your friends know you’re LDS so if you’re talking about a problem they’re having and a spiritual solution comes to mind, share it. Don’t push it away because of fear.
5. Social Media. Share the good. Avoid arguments and conversations that lead to contention. In marketing, we always advice our clients not to cut down their competition. It forces their customers to lose trust in the competitor as well as our client. Avoid talking negatively about others and focus on the good aspects of your product. The same goes for the Gospel! Don’t put down other peoples faith or beliefs. Promote what your faith does well, instead.
6. Set an extraordinary example. Serve your neighbors. Be kind. Be patient. Be forgiving. Go out of your way to serve others and be a friend. These are Christ-like qualities that our communities desperately need.
7. Share food for thought. There is a house in a neighborhood near ours that writes uplifting quotes on their living room window. Everyone that drives on that road reads her window whether they want to or not!
8. Keep a spiritual pinterest board. Your followers will automatically see the things you pin.
9. Keep an web journal/blog. Sharing our thoughts online is much less scary than face-to-face. Just remember to be kind, respectful, and aware of the fact that many people will disagree with you and that is okay.
10. Participate in the community. If you don’t get out and into the world, no one is going to hear your message or see your example.
11. Teach your children. This is the most important thing we can do for future generations.
12. Invite friends over for Christmas activities like reading holiday stories and cookie decorating.
13. Sneak in links to LDS.org. (This is my own personal goal. When I write content for other websites, I try to use resources that promote wholesome living and faith based content. Shhhhh don’t tell on me!)
14. Read your scriptures on the plane. The few times I’ve tried this, I’ve always been asked questions by my seat mates. It’s a good way to open the door to questions without being the one to start the conversation.
15. The Church’s 12 Step program. If you know of anyone stuck in addiction, this is a great program created by the church. They have a separate support group for spouses affected by loved ones in addiction. I recommend it in my list of Good Reads.
I’m grateful for the opportunity the Lord has given me to know his love and to recognize his hand in my life. It is a gift so remarkable, so freeing, and so powerful that I wish everyone could know Him. As I continue to build my relationship with our Father in Heaven, I hope to find opportunities for others to know Him as well and pray that I’ll recognize those searching for something to make themselves whole and have the courage to share my experiences with them.