Sunday, January 8, 2012

I Am Such a Slow Learner

This morning as I was getting ready for church, I listened to the BYU  Broadcasting Talk of the Day online. Today it is True Believers In Christ by Neal A. Maxwell from a talk he gave at BYU in 1980. Of course, it’s a wonderful talk with so many things that touched me, but I’ll just share a few.
Don't you love this photo of Elder Maxwell with his grandchildren?

"To begin with, the true believer, notwithstanding his weaknesses, is settled in his basic spirituality. He is settled, to use another of Alma's phrases, in his "views of Christ" (Alma 27:28), so his views of everything else are put in that precious perspective."

I believe that I am a true believer. I am an imperfect one, but I am a trying-really-hard true believer. I know that there is no part of my life that isn’t affected by my eternal perspective because it is a part of me, how I see things and how I make my decisions.

Elder Maxwell lists 13 characteristics of a true believer. I do much better at some of them then others, but the thing that he said that struck a chord with me was even before the list.

"Becoming a true believer, however, means trusting not only in the Lord's plan for all of mankind but especially trusting in His unfolding and particularized plan for each of us. This means much more than merely acknowledging that God is in charge….

"Our fully "harmonious relationship" with God must also reckon, however, with the episode of the young man who told the Savior that he had kept all the commandments from his youth. Jesus then gave him a very customized challenge: to go and sell all that he had, giving the proceeds to the poor and then taking up the cross and following the Savior. Doing so, indicated the Savior to the young man, would take care of the "one thing thou lackest" (Mark 10:21). The good and decent young man went away sorrowing because he could not meet that customized challenge; he was clearly an admirer of Jesus, but not a true believer in Christ. Nor are we, if we shrink from our customized challenges.

"Indeed, would that some of us, like the young man, lacked just one thing. But having a healthy awareness of that which we yet "lack" can be a needed spur. We may have proved, for instance, that we can play checkers, but are we now ready to play chess? Are we willing to let the Lord lead us into further developmental experiences? Or do we shrink back? The things which "greatly enlarge the soul" inevitably involve stretching."

OUCH! I am trying to be a true believer, but I am not yet to the point where my first reaction to hard challenges is anything other than wanting to shrink back. I'm comforable enough without the stretching or learning to play chess. (Well, I do play chess, but you know what I mean.) I do believe in our Father’s plan for all of us in this life and the next. But I am weak when it comes to “trusting in His unfolding and particularized plan for” me. I feel like things have gone wrong, whether by accidents, people’s use of their agency, or whatever and that somehow Heavenly Father’s plan for me has been disrupted.

Really?? How can it be that the omnipotent, omniscient, loving Father does not have the power or desire to guide me right where I should be if I am striving to be obedient? At times of weakness and sorrow, I ask myself, “Well, do you believe or don’t you?”

"If he is given a "thorn in the flesh," he does not demand to see the rose garden."

Oh, how I wish to see that rose garden sometimes to make everything feel alright. How impatient I am. I know that in the end, in the next life, all wrongs will be righted and all sorrows will turn to joys, but I want to know that it will happen in this life, that I won’t have to go for the next decades of my life on earth without holding that beautiful rose. This is a stirring reminder that as a believer, I need to let go of that desire.
Lead Kindly Light by Richard Lance Russell

When I read this quote below, I remembered that I had this quote in my quote file and in my heart already.
"Let the kaleidoscope of life's circumstances be shaken, again and again, and the 'true believer of Christ' will still see 'with the eye of faith' divine design and purpose in his life."
Then I looked through my blog history and noticed that I already blogged about this quote, which I had read in one of Elder Maxwell’s books. (If you wanna read that post, click HERE.) This is another time I am so grateful to have my blog and be able to go back and read my thoughts and feelings. I am a bit sad to see that I wrote that in 2008 and I still have the same weakness, but I can only go forward and continue to work on it, and work and work.

Close to the end of his talk, Elder Maxwell leaves this beautiful imagery.

Father, Forgive Them by Eric J. Heywood
"Let us, brothers and sisters, seek to become such true believers in Christ. Let us make our way, righteously and resolutely, notwithstanding our weaknesses, to the beckoning City of God. There, the sole and self-assigned gatekeeper is Jesus Christ. He awaits us at the gate not only to certify us--but because His deep, divine desire brings Him there to welcome us. "He employeth no servant there" (2 Ne. 9:41). If we acknowledge Him now, He will lovingly acknowledge us then."


  1. Thanks for that great thought. I also struggle with having patience in the Lord's time table for me. The quotes were great reminders of how to be true believers and followers.

  2. Oh man Valerie if you feel like a slow learner than I am afraid I am a snail. I love the thoughts here and it makes me want to go and listen to this talk (I think I will). I feel like I am such a late bloomer to the gospel not being a member all my life it has taken me my whole life so far to really start understanding some concepts and I have a long way to go.
    You inspire me - Your faith and your Testimony lift me up!

  3. I think we are all slow learners, really. Who doesn't want things their way? I know I am often guilty of that way of thinking. I am impatient at times but I hope that as I strive to leave my worries in his hands (especially relating to His timetable) that I am growing stronger and more patient. Love you. Life will get easier. Hang I'm're doing well.

  4. Great post Valerie. :o)


  5. I write about the same things OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I learn, then re-learn (or learn it a little deeper - or am reminded of a truth); life is like that! I think you are perfectly normal for this, as am I... :)

    I also think it is normal NOT to want a trial, during it, but to find blessings in it and be thankful for it later. I, like you, strive to find the rose among the thorns while feeling the blood dripping down from the thorns. I'm glad we strive to focus on the rose... Now we just need to remember that to feel the piercing of the thorn simply shows that we are human. I think it is great that you choose to again redirect your mind to the rose even while in pain from the thorns... ;)
    Corine :D

  6. I'm sorry life is hard right now. I always find it such a shame that roses need "fertilizer" in order to grow. Not only thorns, but cow poop. :) I really hope that you are okay. Been worried about you. I will keep you in my prayers. I'm glad that you are such a strong person, but take some time out for yourself... just to be weak, and fall apart, it will give you the strength to keep going. *hugs*

  7. I just found my painting Lead Kindly Light on your blog and loved seeing it linked with such great thoughts. Glad it struck a chord with you. Christ is always there for us, inviting us to follow him. It's especially comforting when things are tough. Thanks for sharing.


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