Fear vs Faith....I know that no one at conference spoke directly on this subject, but it was the resounding principle that the Lord wanted me to learn. Faith not Fear. Too many times in my life I do things out of fear instead of out of faith.
For example, there were several talks...at least three... that talked about young men getting married. I think that many young men are not getting married because of fear and a lack of faith. Fear about how will it impact my schooling, my social network, my silliness, my finances, my freedom, my friends? They may fear rejection, divorce, committment, ability to provide, fatherhood, or choosing the right person.
In my opinion faith takes care of all these concerns. When I was a recently returned missionary I had no job, no car, no schooling. The man I would marry worked part time at a computer lab for the school district. He had a car that was 20 years old and would break down on the same exit off the freeway every single time he drove past it...thanks to Spencer for rescuing us many times!....He had one...yes ONE....year of schooling completed. Would getting married impact our schooling, our social interactions, our care-free lifestyle, finances, freedom and friends....YES!
We were engaged within 3 weeks of my returning home and married within 3 months. Could we have feared rejection...3 weeks? divorce...3 months?....committment, providing, parenting, or is this THE ONE? YES!
But we didn't, we looked forward with faith. I got a job, we bought a car together so I could rescue him, he enrolled in school with my encouragement...okay, my demands :) We didn't go into debt we both worked sometimes two jobs and went to school. And....drum roll please...we were happy. We were full of faith and hope. We were together...well for atleast 2 hours a day from 9 to 11 before sleep, and oh how we loved the Sabbath...a day free from work and from play and from school.
We didn't worry about all of those other things. We knew the Lord could fix them. We knew He would bless us for staying out of debt, we knew He would bless us to get into a house someday, we knew He would help us to love one another and to keep our covenants and we knew that it required a lot of work from us...A LOT of work.
Did it impact our finances? Yes, we had no money! We look at what we lived on each month making 8 dollars an hour, paying rent and paying for school but we always had enough. Did it impact our friends? Yes, we had no friends! We relied on each other. We spent every spare minute together and when we weren't just together we were with our families enjoying them and learning from them. Did it impact our freedom? Yes, we were buzy all the time working for each other. We spent three years just working to finish school we had no other objectives, no plans for a big home, no plans for a fun vacation, NO PLANS...just a focus that we could keep going with faith and patience. Did impact our silliness? Um, yup! When you have no one else to rely on besides the Lord and this person sitting next to you it impacts your care free life style...your silliness. I remember one of our first "fights" and I remember distinctly the spirit telling me. Do you want to behave this silly way your whole life or are you ready to grow up and work together. Really my silliness was selfishness. A desire to hold on to childishness and to "get what I want" Yes my silliness was impacted that night in a way that I will always be grateful for. Did it impact our social life? Absolutely..what social life? I always like to tease my husband about all the super fun dates he went on before we got married. He took girls to the Harlem Globe Trotters and to fancy dinner dates and did all the fun things that young couples are "supposed" to do. Our first date was breakfast at my house with my family followed by my accompanying him to some of his college classes.....Heart stopping fun! Our second date was a talk on the trampoline....costly! Our third date was a homemade meal on an overpass of the freeway....let's give him some points for creativity! In his defense he did propose after a lovely meal at the Roof accross from Temple Square and it was beautiful. He even had a spectacular firework show...okay it was spectacular, but he didn't plan it. It was just one of those beautiful gifts from the Lord. Did it impact my schooling? Yes, I never did finish school! But I am getting a great education now educating my kids which I love and it inspires me to be better every day, not just to get a grade.
We had faith. The Lord blessed us every day in every way. He blessed us to be happy, He blessed us to have peace, He blessed us with abilities beyond our own, He blessed us with all the things we needed and He blessed us with love for each other and for Him. Was everything perfect...nope.... but that didn't stop us from having faith and from working hard and from looking forward to many more blessings along the way.
Another example, there were several talks.....atleast three.....that talked about paying tithes and offerings and giving generously to those in need. I think that many times in my life I give reservedly out of fear instead of out of faith.
I know the importance of paying tithing. I learned that while I was a young college student who didn't know how I would make ends meet up, but paid my tithing anyway trusting that I would not attend another semester if I couldn't work it out. The very next day my employer at the college invited me into his office. I was sure this was the end of my job as well, but instead he commended me for my efforts and gave me a scholarship that would pay my tuition and books for the remainder of the year. I don't have a problem paying tithing anymore.
I know the importance of fast offering. We always try to think of our favorite restaurants and how much it costs our family to go there and then we donate that much money as our fast offering contribution. I sometimes wonder though....is that enough? I do not know what it feels like to go hungry. I truly have never been starving. How much would it be worth to me to never have to feel this way. I could be more generous in my fast offerings.
I know the importance of giving to the other programs of the church, we give when there is a natural disaster, a missionary in need, or a request for funds.
But...and for me this has been a point of pondering lately...do I give enough? We are not rich. In fact in my neighborhood we would probably be considered poor...although it's really all perspective. I feel rich. I have a comfortable home with everything I need. I have healthy happy children whom I can provide for...and even help a few extra's. I have two + years worth of food storage that I use and rotate. I even have a little in savings.
But....watch out....here comes the fear....I don't save for my children's education or their mission funds as I know my parents did for us. I have several home improvement projects that really need to be done for safety reasons as well as asthetic beauty. I save some every month, but wish it was much much more. I need to buy a reliable car that will fit our expanding family but don't know where that money will come from. I am extremely thrifty every month and try to always live within my means and I rarely buy anything extra that I would like and I always think well, maybe next month I'll get to buy that.
So then I listen to conference and I desire to do much more. So which one will I choose...fear or faith. I loved it when Elder Eyring said, " You can not give yourself poor." Those words were solice to my fearful soul. The Lord will bless me in many ways for having faith. For trusting in the words of a prophet that if I give I will be given, that if I help I will be helped.
Last month a friend of my husbands called and needed money to pay rent so that they wouldn't loose their home. I informed him of our shortages for the month and then invited him to pray and make the deicision and then I would trust his judgement. He decided to help this friend. Even though I had given my consent I must admit a bit of bitterness. Just a bit of wondering what we would go without so that this friend might not loose their house. As I pondered on it I was given a great feeling of peace that it was the right thing to do and that we would make it by on less.
I know that Faith does not always bring temporal blessings, but I need all the blessings of the Lord that I am worthy to receive, temporal, physical, spiritual, and emotional. Faith in giving of our want and need is a powerful principle...like the widows mite. When we go forward with faith and give the Lord will bless. It will probably take some extra work on my part. I won't be able to get all those groceries on my list. I probably will have to stay home instead of driving out and about. I probably will have to cook instead of going out to dinner....bummer, I really don't feel like cooking when I am nine months pregnant :) But the Lord will bless me and the people who truly are in need will be blessed and that is truly the work I am to do....His work.
There are so many other good things from conference that I could relate...desire, missionary work, sabbath day, temple work, forgiveness, "being". All of these things take faith. It is easy to fear our desires to do good, to fear to become a missionary, to fear not having a day of "fun" if we keep the sabbath, to fear sacrificing our time to go to the temple, to fear forgiving others, to fear trying harder to be a better parent. After all, all of our efforts and giving and trying may fail, they may make our lives more difficult, they may cause loss of frienships, we may appear peculiar to our family, friends, and neighbors, we may get hurt, injured or lonely.
And yet,......there is Faith. When I turn my heart, my wishes, my will over to the Lord to do with it as he pleases when I have faith that I can give to others even when I feel like curling into a ball and waiting out the next four weeks of pregnancy, when I have faith that I can share the gospel by my words and my actions and by being cheerful in all I say and do, when I have faith that I can tweek even more our sabbath day observance to make it an holy day unto the Lord, when I have faith that even if this is the only date night I get with my husband this month that we used it to serve someone else by going to the temple, when I have faith that I can truly in my heart and mind forgive someone for something that deeply hurt and caused much pain and doubt in my own heart because it is what the Lord wants me to do, when I have faith that my small efforts will make some difference in the lives of my children I feel closer to the Lord. I feel light and revelation touching my spirit. I feel my faith grow.
I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me. Christ never feared. During conference I tried really hard to imagine a time in Christ's life that he felt fear...in the garden, on trial, on the cross, cleansing the temple, healing, raising the dead...nope, I could not do it. He did not fear! Christ did not fear his mission, or his preparation, his trial or his purpose. He did not fear what God asked Him to do. He always walked forward with faith and encourages me to do the same. I have much to do and become. I have much faith to grow and strengthen.