Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Using our Talents to Bless One Another

Our family welcomed Zachary Landon into the world on September 5th, 2012.  He is sweet and handsome and so snuggly!  We all adore him.  His big sisters cannot leave him alone! As wonderful as a new baby is, the transition from two to three children has been difficult.  My life is crazy. My friend assured me that craziness is the new normal, so I better adjust quickly.  Among the scattered moments of gratitude and peace, I feel I am constantly climbing a mountain, but never reach the top: a mountain of dishes, a mountain of laundry, a mountain of homework... I just hope I do not fall off! I need heavenly help to magnify my talents and strengthen my soul.  Erma Bombeck penned the following words: "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'".  I confidently feel that in this journey of motherhood, I am using everything God gave me!

Christ has taught us to use our talents.  He commanded, "Thou shall not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known" (D&C 60:13).  In fact, we learn from the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 that those who bury their talents will have them taken away and given to those who will use them.  To those who multiply their talents, the Lord praises, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matthew 25:23).

We all have talents! The Lord also calls them gifts.  "For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many fits, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.  To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby" (D&C 46:10).  Why does the Lord give us spiritual gifts? "For all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God" (D&C 46:26).  The secret to improving our talents?  Use them to bless one another. I finally caught on to this principle while trying to improve my baking skills.

About three years ago I decided I wanted to master the art of homemade bread. I failed miserably.Every batch of bread refused to rise and was slightly softer than a rock. They progressively improved as I attempted multiple bread recipes.  Then one day last year, I decided to pray before making a batch of bread.  Mylee and I said a prayer out loud in the kitchen before we began baking.  We told Heavenly Father that one of the loaves was for a friend and we really wanted it to taste good.  We asked him to please help us.  It turned out to be best batch I had ever made!  The loaves were light and fluffy.  Since that experience, I have given at least one delicious loaf of bread away from every batch I make. By dedicating my bread to service for the Lord, He not only helps me make better bread, but he also allows me to draw closer to him and my fellowmen.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton, a past member of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught, "It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them.  God's gifts and powers are available to all of us...When, in disgust or discouragement, we allow ourselves to reach depressive levels of despair because of our demeaning self-appraisal, it is a sad day for us and a sad day in the eyes of God.  For us to conclude that we have no gifts when we judge ourselves buy stature, intelligence, grade-point average, wealth, power, position, or external appearance is not only unfair but unreasonable."  We are children of God, and I think he sorrows when we think we have nothing to give.

Some talents are more noticeable than others. Elder Ashton taught us to recognize some less-conspicuous gifts.  "...The gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost" 
(There Are Many Gifts, November 1987).  If you need help recognizing your gifts, I encourage you to think of ways you serve others.  Are you a good listener when a friend needs to talk?  Do you hear the Holy Ghost inspire you to know what to say?  Do you uplift others with a powerful testimony?  Are you a peacemaker?  Service comes in many shapes and sizes.

I served as an ordinance worker in the Provo Temple during my senior year at BYU.  My Friday night shift became a sacred highlight of every week.  I felt surrounded by angels as I served in endowment sessions, carried prayer rolls names, and greeted people as they entered the temple.  However, my favorite and most challenging responsibility was doing initiatories.  I felt the heavenly, yet heavy, weight of memorizing every word of the ordinances!  If you are an endowed member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints then you understand how much memorizing it requires. I spent my first few temple shifts simply studying the words and committing them to memory before I performed them.  I, a 22-year-old college student, was having trouble with it all;  I could not imagine how difficult it must for the senior temple workers! However, those beautiful, wise, and experienced women told me a secret.  They said that because we were serving in the Lord's house, he would give us power beyond our abilities to memorize everything we needed and more.  They were right.  It is not really a secret at all!  Did not the Lord promise that he would prepare a way for us to accomplish his commands? (1 Nephi 3:7).  

We read in 2 Nephi 32:9, "But behold I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."  Consecrate means to devote, to ordain, to dedicate, and to make sacred. This means that when we perform any thing unto the Lord and pray for divine help from the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord will dedicate our performance for our good, and by consequence, for the good of those we serve. I believe this consecration of service principle applies to all righteous aspects of life. I had a group of friends in high school who used to sing at a nursing home every Sunday. Were their songs made sweeter because they sang for the elderly patients who lived there? I think so. My husband is a special education teacher; he prays to know how to teach his students, therefore he receives inspiration to best meet their learning needs.  

I experience this principle as a mother.  Motherhood is full-time service, so I know the Lord is with me as I pray for guidance to raise my children in righteousness.  When I dedicate each day to the Lord, he multiplies my talents beyond my own limited capabilities. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "We thank all you mothers and tell you there is nothing more important in this world than participating so directly in the work and glory of God, in bringing to pass the immortality and earthly life of His daughters and sons, so that immortality and eternal life can come in those celestial realms on high...Yours is the work of salvation and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be..." (Because She is a Mother, April 1997, italics added).  There is the promise again!  As you serve in the work of salvation (which is not limited to motherhood alone), you will be made more than you are.  God will help you as you help His children. Hallelujah, because I need all the help I can get!