(Click here to listen to the podcast of this column.)
Two of my children, Paul and Ashley, have finished high school and are going out into the world “to seek their fortune,” as it is often written in fairy tale language. Of course, we do not live in a fairy tale world, and without proper planning things do not turn our happily ever after. There are five things that I hope my daughter and son remember when they leave the shelter of my home. If followed, they will have a happily-ever-after journey and ending.
1. Remember your divine heritage.
Recently I watched “Akeela and the Bee.” I was deeply touched by the message of the movie, which is stated clearly in the following quote by Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I want my son, Paul, and daughter, Ashley, to know that they are not animals driven by instincts and passions. They are divine children of God with a plan and purpose for their existence. As a baby grows and learns to crawl, to walk and to run like his father, so we can become like our eternal father in attributes and actions. Our growth is a process. We make decisions and create our destiny by the choices we make. If we take the path of least resistance, we will be blown about by “every wind of doctrine.” We must take a stand. We must climb the “high road.” We must make conscious and wise decisions about our future.
“Dream, oh youth. Dream nobly and manfully and thy dreams shall be thy prophets.” (Robert Bulwer-Lytton). We become what we think about. The scriptures say, “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23: 7). We must choose the thoughts we allow to play on the stage of our minds. We can create order or chaos. We can be uplifting or groveling. We are children of deity. We do not need to settle for second best.
2. Choose your friends wisely because they are a mirror of who you will become.
Your associates are the key to failure or success. If you choose friends who are striving for excellence, they will inspire you to become your best self. Choose friends who are connected to the world, and you will become a product of the world.
Set your sights on celestial glory, in God’s kingdom, and you will be attracted to like-minded people. Set your sights on the pleasures of the world, and you will find your friends and yourself swimming in a sea of confusion, where whirlpools of darkness will drag you down to despair, where it is difficult to see the hand of God moving in your life.
3. God is in charge, and a relationship with Him is essential.
Christ said: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.” (Matt. 6: 33). It was a commandment of love. He knew that if we keep our sights on His kingdom, our spirits will be drawn to Him with unseen chords of light. In life, we will see Him “through a glass darkly” but then “face to face” (1 Corinthians 13: 12). In other words, we will see His manifestations in our lives.
Dimly at first, as we will feel his presence, but day by day, we will see more of His miracles, until one day we will see Him and know Him as He is. Because we have placed the desires of our soul on Him, we will be like Him. Christ knows that if we place our affections and our thoughts on anything besides his Kingdom, we will be drawn like a magnet to that desire, and we will miss Him. The universe will give us what we truly desire. Neal A. Maxwell said, “If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.”
4. Prayer is power charged by faith.
The world is fast approaching an atheistic environment where men and women deny the existence of God. They are blind to the miracles of God because they do not believe. It is a vicious cycle. The less you believe, the less you will see. Prayer is a power stronger than electricity. Prayer is the conduit that reaches celestial worlds, where God dwells. Prayer is like a radio signal – if we are tuned in, the message is clear, but if we sporadically turn the knob, static will blur the signal and the message will be lost. Daily and fervent prayer is essential. I am not talking about a “grocery list” of things you want. Prayer is a dialogue where both parties have time to talk.
How does God speak to us? Elijah discovered that He speaks with a “still, small voice.” (1 Kings 19: 12). We have to be quiet and listen with the heart to hear His voice. It takes time and effort and faith.
We must expect to get an answer. We must trust that sometimes He says “yes,” and sometimes He says “no,” just like any loving parent. He knows the end from the beginning. It is wonderful to take advice from someone who cannot only see the road ahead, but the end of every road.
Someone once said, “If you want to talk to God, pray. If you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures.” So many times, I have prayed and opened the scriptures to find the answer to my dilemma staring back at me. How does it happen? God is a God of miracles. All things are possible with Him. Remember the greater the faith, the greater the manifestation from God. Remember, sin will cause static in the radio of prayer. As Huck Finn said, “We cannot pray a lie.”
5. Be a Savior on Mount Zion.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good tidings.” (Isaiah 52: 7). We come into the world with a mission. We can fulfill that mission or we can choose not to. It is our choice. The choices we make will not just affect our lives, they will affect generations of yet unborn, our children and their children.
For example, people who are abused tend to abuse. People who are raised with compassion find it easy to show compassion. Patterns of goodness or wickedness travel from one generation to the next. We can choose to erase the bad choices of our parents by making different choices. With God’s help, we can create a new script for ourselves. Because we create a different script, our children will not have the example of the old script. They will be blessed by the choices you made. Generation by generation, your children will become better and better. If you are successful in teaching your children by example, they will, in effect, stand on your shoulders and reach higher. Each generation will be blessed because you made wise choices. You will have become a savior to those who will come after you.
I wish I could go with my children to save them from the pitfalls of the world, but I know God will be with them, if they choose to allow Him to be. We are all on a journey of choices. We, day by day, create our scripts that will shape our destinies. We can follow the Master’s plan or we can choose to make our own. What we plant, we will reap. That is the law of the harvest. I pray for my children daily. I cry over their mistakes and hurt when they hurt. I wrote a poem several years ago that makes sense here:
Butterfly, I hold within my hands,
I set you free, I bid you go.
For if I keep you, you will die
Your color never seen.
Your wings untried, unflown.
God knew some of us would get lost as we made incorrect choices, but He also knew that our growth and happiness would depend on our ability to make our own decisions, whether right or wrong. He has let our destiny be ours. No matter what we choose, He will love us, but our choices make the difference of whether we can feel His love or not. PD