How Can I Understand? by Ulisses Soares
Content by Rio Grange
What an incredible talk to kick-off this general conference! In a kind, yet bold way, Elder Soares reminds us that it is not enough to teach the doctrine and principles of the Gospel alone, but we must also LIVE THEM! And while this is perhaps the most important focus we can have as a disciple of christ, it can also be the hardest. No doubt it takes consistent effort, commitment, sacrifice, and discipline.
"Attuning ourselves to the highest influences of godliness is not a simple matter; it requires calling upon God and learning how to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the center of our lives. If we do so, I promise that the influence of the Holy Ghost will bring truth to our heart and mind and will bear witness of it, teaching all things."
Thankfully, we are not asked to travel the path of discipleship alone, or without any aiding resources. We are also NEVER asked to do so perfectly or without error. In fact, the whole essence of God's plan for us revolves around the knowledge that we WILL make mistakes. These are opportunities to turn to Him, learn, grow, and try again.
So if living the Gospel is the hardest part, then why do it? Let's think for a moment, what is your greatest motive or reason to live by the doctrines and principles of the Gospel. You may have several answers to this questions, I know I do! But I think it is important to recognize the WHY behind our actions so that when it seems tempting to travel the easier path, we are motivated to travel the "narrower" because we know the blessings in store.
When we are able to experience this, the joy and happiness that comes from the covenant path, we naturally want others to know the same joy. For many of us, this is one of our reasons for living the Gospel--to set an example for those around us, most likely those we love most. Whether it be our children, siblings, roommates or best friends, we have a hope that they too will choose Christ. And Elder Soares so beautifully reminds us that ACTIONS are the best way to do so:
"Brothers and sisters, our actions must reflect what we learn and teach. We need to show our beliefs through the way we live. The best teacher is a good role model. Teaching something that we truly live can make a difference in the hearts of those we teach. If we desire people, whether that be family or not, to joyfully treasure up the scriptures and the teachings of living apostles and prophets of our day, they need to see our souls delighting in them. Likewise, if we want them to know that President Russell M. Nelson is the prophet, seer, and revelator in our day, they need to see us raise our hands to sustain him and realize that we follow his inspired teachings."
Then Elder Soares speaks the words on many of our minds, "but what about when I do indeed live the Gospel the best I can, and my loved ones still distance themselves from the Lord?" He then comforts our concern with these words:
"It is hard to understand all the reasons why some people take another path. The best we can do in these circumstances is just to love and embrace them, pray for their well-being, and seek for the Lord’s help to know what to do and say. Sincerely rejoice with them in their successes; be their friends and look for the good in them. We should never give up on them but preserve our relationships. Never reject or misjudge them. Just love them!"
In applying this to my own life in recent months, I've began to keep the words, love them anyway, close to my heart. When loved ones choose a path that looks different than yours, love them anyway. When they disagree with something you say or do, love them anyway. When they are hurting because of choices they made that you tried to warn them about, love them anyway. When you are hurting because of their choices, love them anyway.
Friends, I know those 3 words are so much easier said than done. But LOVE. IS. POWERFUL. In fact it is the ONLY power capable of changing someone. So let us press on with love in our hearts, hope in our minds, and trust in His perfect plan.