Tuesday, 20 May 2014

A Packet of Mints

     I must have been about 10 years old.  I went through the supermarket with my mother and my older brother. I dragged my heals as deep as I could into the tile floor and begged my mother to buy me every snack, sweet, and sugary morsel I could see.  Eventually we came to the checkout line and that seemed to be the straw on the camel's back.  My mother told my brother and I that we could pick 1 item each.  Those clever marketing and psychology specialists who put all the chocolate and chewing gum in the checkout line.... I'll have a rant about them in another blog post possibly... But for now, my young heart leapt for joy and I felt I had just had a momentous victory.  I scanned through the many choices several times and then grabbed a packet of mints that I thought were amazing.  Somehow, I made it through the line and accidentally held on to the packet of mints without having them scanned by the cashier.  In other words, before I knew it I had become a shoplifter as I followed my mother out of the shop.
     Thoughts raced through my 10 year old heart.  "I am a villain" and then I thought, "I wonder how long they will put me in prison for," last of all I thought, "This is all my mom's fault!"  Months passed by, I never said anything, but about six months later the guilt from this experience weighed deep into my soul.  For some reason I could not seem to forget something as simple as stealing a package of mints that probably would have cost no more than 60 cents.  One day, I was sick, and after staying home from school I confided in my mother about the horrible guilt that I felt from my dishonesty.  We drove back to the shop around 6 months after I took the packet of mints and paid for them.  I'm sure the manager had a laugh later that I cried my eyes out as I admitted my guilt over 60 cents.
      But I am reminded of the story of Karl G. Maeser, a prominent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He was quoted to say,
     "I have been asked what I mean by “word of honor.” I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls—walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground—there is a possibility that in some way or another I might be able to escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of that circle? No, never! I’d die first.”
     Being perfectly honest is something that I strive towards everyday.  As we live by our "word of honor"  we can be blessed with increased peace of mind in our lives, others around us will trust us more, and we will feel more accountable for the things we do and say. This increased accountability will increase our performance in all areas of our life.  We will also have the spirit more in our life as we follow Jesus Christ's example of honesty.  If we mess up, we can make use of the atonement through sincere repentance.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Spirit of Christ

So, this week I reflected on geology.  I was recently able to go and visit Seven Sisters, which in basic terms is a big cliff made out of chalk that is on the southern side on England, right on the coast.  It has some pretty breathtaking views and was a good day.  I got chalk all over my shoes, trousers, and hands.  It took a while to clean myself all up afterwards.
     Something that I saw that I thought was really cool was that when the tide is down you can walk along the coast at the bottom of the cliffs, all the rocks there are made of chalk and have a green slippery moss on them that isn't the most attractive but this area creates a nice place for a bunch of small sea creatures to live. I was hopping from rock to rock when I saw one of the rocks had split down the middle.  This is a picture of it:

     As you can see the outside is pretty gross while the inside is bright and shinning white. This rock is equally as white on the inside as the rocks that are still up on the top of the cliff side. A popular scripture comes to mind from the Book of Mormon which says:
     "For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
     But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him."
     I was honestly a little bit surprised to see how white and clean looking the rock was on the inside despite the circumstances it was in.  That even though it was in conditions that would easily lead to becoming covered in grime and moss, it was still shockingly white.
     There is a way that we can keep ourselves pure despite bad circumstances.  This is to follow "the spirit of Christ"  and to follow what we know to be right.  When we do this, we can find stability and blessings.  The quality of our lives will improve here and now.  These blessings are immediate as well as long lasting.  They increase as time goes on and help confirm to us that what we are doing is right.

Saturday, 3 May 2014


     Some time ago, I remember buying a little bit of furniture for a new flat I was moving into, and a friend gave us a sofa as a gift because she knew we didn't have enough furniture.  Upon delivering all the furniture we ran into an interesting situation w here everything went in except the sofa.  The problem being that the front door was unusually narrow.  The other problem was that the flat was not on the ground floor, it was 1 floor up.  After a few awkward situations with storing it, a few weeks later we finally organized for a friend to come with a ladder.  He pushed the couch up the ladder with his head (no small feat) and we stood at the top and pulled it in through the window.
     Then, a few weeks later, there were university students we knew fairly well that offered us another couch.  We foolishly accepted, forgetting all the problems we had the last time we tried to get a couch into our flat.  But notwithstanding this we took a look at it and it was quite a bit smaller than the last couch and we assumed it would fit this time.  But after dragging it about a mile and a half over to our flat and trying about 20 times to fit it through the doorway, it felt a lot like fitting a square peg into a circular hole.  We sat for a few minutes out on the sidewalk with the couch in silence.  Then I slowly sat down on the couch and placed my back carefully against one armrest and my feet on the other laying down.  Then I kicked as hard as I could and snapped the arm right off.  After that the couch fit right through the doorway and we later had to fix the couch ourselves.  
     All this drama of getting these 2 couches into our flat makes me think sometimes.  I ponder somewhat regularly on repentance.  To repent to me means to change in a way that puts my will more in line with God's will.  Repentance is more than saying sorry, it is showing that you are sorry, by doing all you can to not be a repeat offender any longer! I am far from perfect, but I try my best to repent when I do fall short of what God asks me to do.  Often I make a resolution, never again will I do that again!  NEVER AGAIN will I accept a couch as a gift!  Only to realize in the moment just a small while later that I am making the same mistakes that I thought I had left in the dust.  Often they are even things that I had thought I overcome, only to see myself doing the same thing.
    When these things happen I find it is important to not get discouraged.  I was very frustrated when the second couch didn't fit through the doorway.  I started to have flashbacks and fears emerge from the memory of the first couch.  Just know when faced in these situations, that this happens to everyone.  Everyone at some point doesn't quite measure up, and they do it more than once.  They commit to being better and they do not reach that commitment.  The key is to not give up or allow discouragement to slow your progress.  God does not demand instant perfection, but rather he pleads for constant progression.  As you repent regularly you will come to see that it is always worth it.
     Remember also, how much easier prevention is than repentance.  Don't be the person who says they will sin now and repent later.  The Book of Mormon teaches that "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God".   No matter how good it sounds at first, sin always results in a decrease in happiness for someone. It would have been so much easier to just not accept the second couch, rather than have to break it and then do all I can to fix it.