Monday, December 28, 2009

Face Unafraid the Plans that We've Made

This is adapted from a talk I gave in church today. I don’t expect anyone but my mother to read it all the way through, but I’ll post it as part of my attempt to apply the things I’ve learned over the last week of studying for the talk.

Reuben, Simeon and I were walking home after the big snowfall. I was intrigued by Reuben’s fascination with the snow and the magic that is wintertime. I started to sing “Winter Wonderland.” After we agreed to let the snowman named Parson Brown marry us, and we were sitting by the fire conspiring it hit me, “Face unafraid the plans that we’ve made.” I’d never really noticed that lyric before. But I have been thinking about it ever since. The blue bird is on his way out, and the new bird, while singing a love song is a huge man-eating eagle. I don’t know about you, but 2010 holds some pretty afraid worthy events for us. There are aspects that I look forward to; an elevator, Justin’s last semester, not accruing anymore debt (other than a car), Reuben and Simeon growing and learning, hopefully a washer and dryer in our living space, etc. There are also aspects that terrify me called we have no idea what we are going, what we will be doing, or when we will know where and what.

Now, because you are my avid readers you already know a lot about me. I am anxiety ridden. I do not trust easily. I am not hopeful. I get discouraged, scared, and hyperventilate easily. I do not “face unafraid” anything, let alone the plans that we’ve made.

I seem to be in a three year cycle of terrifying life changes. I left home to go to college: frightening. After three years at BYU I met Justin and had to decide if I wanted to marry him. Let me qualify, Justin was not terrifying, marriage was terrifying. After three years of being married to Justin I had to move to New York: Horrifying. It will be three years of living in New York when I have to face the unknown. The unknown is pretty petrifying when you have two kids, Grad-School-in-New-York amounts of debt, and the current economy. But, we made this plan with the guidance of the Spirit. We had our children after we received undeniable revelation. We came to New York based on personal revelation received in the temple. I quit my job after receiving approval from the Spirit. We know that the next step is what the Lord would have us do. So I need to face unafraid the plans that we’ve made.

To face afraid is the Adversary's wish.
Fear…is a principal weapon in the arsenal which Satan uses to make mankind unhappy. He who fears loses strength for the combat of life in the fight against evil. Therefore the power of the evil one always tries to generate fear in human hearts. … A timid, fearing people cannot do their work well, and they cannot do God’s work at all. (Hunter)

Let’s think about that for a second. Satan uses fear to weaken us, to distract us from our work. I’ve felt fear weaken me. I’ve seen it distract me. Fear keeps me from true happiness, it’s simply impossible to be happy wondering when it won’t hurt to breathe anymore. Fear is a powerful tool, and while I may have an extra measure of fear, it does as much damage in small doses.

Fear can make us run away from things—things like setting and achieving goals, developing relationships, or becoming the people we know we should become. Sometimes fear can even paralyze us to the point that we don’t even try. Fear can be a thick fog that smothers our dreams. It can be a cage that restrains us from reaching our destiny. It can be a weight that restrains our every step. (Wirthlin)

You are probably thinking about setting some goals, making some resolutions, because you are good and enjoy bettering yourself. I am not. I figure if I can’t set the goal and work towards it in June, what makes January any different. Now, this isn’t entirely because I am fearful, it is also because I am lazy. (Sorry to disappoint all you readers who haven’t actually met me, but it’s true.)

When I look at the things I regret, fear is the cause of of my regrets. Didn’t do a play in college because afraid to audition. Didn’t go on lots of dates because I was afraid to ask. Didn’t make any friends in my classes because I was afraid to talk. Didn’t wow any professors because I was afraid to talk. Didn’t go on a study abroad because I was afraid of the cost, and the change it would mean. Didn’t sing in more choirs because I was afraid of being told I was a bad singer. Didn’t transfer to a different school so I could be a music major. Didn’t try to find a job I really enjoyed because I was afraid of looking for a job. Didn’t make any new friends after my friends moved away because I was afraid to talk. Didn’t enjoy my first year and a half of living in New York because I was afraid of New York. Now these regrets may seem pretty trivial to you, but a lot of them define me, in my own mind at least. I’ve fallen into the trap! I’ve been paralyzed, I’ve had smothered dreams, I’ve been in that cage, and I am often weighted down. (And I know I’m not alone in this.)

We are basically commanded to face unafraid.
Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are bbuilt upon my rock, they cannot prevail. aLook unto me in every bthought; cdoubt not, fear not. (D&C 6:34, 36)

Despair, Doom, and Discouragement are not acceptable views of life for a Latter-day Saint. However high on the charts they are on the hit parade of contemporary news, we must not walk on our lower lip every time a few difficult moments happen to confront us. (Hunter)

As Latter-day Saints, ours is not the option of doubting and fearing. Ours is the opportunity of believing and acting. (Hinckley)

Go to the scriptures and search “Fear not.” It appears at least 100 times, and usually in command form.

It is possible to face unafraid.

We can overcome all of our fears, not all at once, but one at a time. As we do so we will grow in confidence. (Faust)

And that is the beauty of following commandments, God doesn’t command impossible things, and he always blesses those that obey his commandments. We have been given a few helps in our quest to face unafraid, because God doesn’t command things without providing a way for us to obey.

We can face unafraid because we have a Savior.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you agood tidings of great bjoy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is aborn this day in the city of David a bSaviour, which is Christ the cLord. (Luke 2: 10-11)

It says right in Luke that the shepherd were afraid, but let’s include that “fear not: declaration in the part that is “to all people.” The angel said, “Fear not” because Christ is born. “Fear not,” because you have a Savior. “Fear not,” because He will save you, well, and me.

Wherefore, be of good acheer, and do not bfear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I cwas, that I am, and that I am to come. (D&C 68: 6)

I want to stress that these feelings (of fear) are not necessary for faithful Latter-day Saints, and they do not come from God. To ancient Israel, the great Jehovah said: “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them; for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. … And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed (Deut. 31: 6,8.) (Hunter)

In my limited understanding, I do know that Christ is our Savior. I understand that he has made it possible to conquer fear.

We can face unafraid because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (the atonement).

For God hath not given us the spirit of afear; but of bpower, and of clove, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1: 7)

Power, love and a sound mind are made possible through the atonement. The atonement is about so much more than forgiveness of sins, and while I don’t have a great understanding of all aspects of the atonement, I do understand that it is all encompassing, it aids us in all of our challenges, sin being one of them. As we use, and grow to understand the atonement we are blessed with extra measures of the tools to “face unafraid.”

Our task is to live fully and faithfully and not worry ourselves sick…. Our task is to have the gospel in our lives and to be a bright light, a city set on the hill, which reflects the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the joy and happiness that will always come to every people in every age who keep the commandments. (Hunter)

Because I have been thinking about it, I’ve noticed that the people who have faith, and works that I admire, also have courage, and determination that I admire. They don’t seem to exhibit much fear, instead they exhibit light, and the beauty of the gospel, joy, and happiness. I’m sure they have fears, because lets face it, we all do otherwise “fear not” wouldn’t be in the scriptures 100 times. But, in one aspect they have conquered fear through the power of the gospel, and I can take inspiration in that.

We can face unafraid because we have the Power of the Priesthood.

Each of you has been endowed with unique talents and abilities. That, coupled with some special powers of the priesthood, will help you tremendously in any endeavor. (Faust)

I know that the power of the priesthood is real. I’ve had many experiences with that power helping me through terrifying situations; child birth, miscarriage, heart ache, despair. I’ve seen how it changes me to achieve more than I should be able to. And, with that kind of power at my beck and call it seems kind of ridiculous not use it.

We can face unafraid because we are surrounded.

“Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Elisha prayed that his eyes may be opened, and he saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire. (2 Kings 6: 18-23)

We may not be immune to being afraid, but we do not have to succumb to it. …“It is better to face fear once than to live in its shadow.” We are surrounded and uplifted by the faith of our members and by the hand of heaven. If only we could see that our fears would have far less influence over us. Move forward with faith, believing you will succeed! Don’t let fear of failure stop you from greatness. Let your example of courage inspire those around you to “Fear not”. (Wirthlin)

I’ve felt surrounded, especially in the last few years. Our ward family here has surrounded me, their faith, concern, aid, and example has made it possible for me to do many things that fear had me avoiding. I’ve never been surrounded like that before, and boy does it feel much better than just plain being surrounded.

We can face unafraid by actively preparing.

If you prepare to walk down the path of life, you can be rewarded beyond your dreams and expectations. But to achieve this, you must work very hard, save, be wise, and be alert. You must learn to deny yourselves of worldly gratification. You must be faithful in paying tithes; you must keep the Word of Wisdom; you must be free from other addictions. You must be chaste and morally clean in every respect. You should accept and be faithful in all of the calls that come to you. Steadiness and toil will serve you better than brilliance. We cannot be passive; we must actively avoid evil. (Faust)

Particularly in our case, we have been preparing. We have been relying on the spirit to make our plans, we have been working hard to follow those promptings, we have made sacrifices. Of course we have had our short comings, but we have prepared. There is always more we can do, but I really feel like we’ve done our best in this department. I’ll spend the next few months missing my husband as he finishes up his preparations, but I’m willing to do it so that we don’t have to fear. God has promised that he will protect us, and guide us, and I feel like I am deserving of that blessing. There isn’t much that I feel like I deserve, but this I honestly do. So, while the plan itself (to graduate and move on) is terrifying, the preparations have been real so I can at least not fear not being prepared for what I know is coming. Now, I just need help in not fearing the unknown.


…The Lord has said: Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock they cannot prevail…Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” (D&C 98:1) In light of such wonderful counsel, I think it is incumbent upon us to rejoice a little more and despair a little less to give thanks for what we have and for the magnitude of God’s blessings to us, and to talk a little less about what we may not have or what anxiety may accompany difficult times… (Hunter)





1 comment:

Tammy Lorna said...

That was lovely Brecken - I really enjoyed reading it (even though I'm not your mother :)). It's a really good thing to be reminded of and thinking about at this time of you. I'm another person who gets paralysed by fear. Especially when my faith is week (obviously).

I bet everyone really enjoyed your talk - would have loved to be there to hear it in person!

xo Tammy