Sunday, May 17, 2009

Faith and Dating

This comes from notes I took at a College Station Institute of Religion class on November 11, 2008. The insights from class discussion are after the quoted scripture.
Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof (Alma 32:39).
Relationships need to be nurtured just like faith. When seeds don't grow, it is not always because the fruit would not have been desirable. Someone's ground was barren and they were unwilling to nourish it.

Temple Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is more than just getting married. It is creating an eternal relationship. The testimony of a relationship grows just like a testimony of the Church.
Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge (Alma 32:26).
Some people want to have a perfect knowledge at the beginning.
But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words (Alma 32:27).
Experiment on a relationship; exercise a particle of faith; believe it is possible that a relationship can develop. It is easy to get cynical after being burned a couple of times. Believe anyway.
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me (Alma 32:28).
You can judge a relationship on these criteria:
  • The relationship enlarges your soul. This means you look to serve others. I can't find the source, but a quote was shared in class that says, "when you truly love someone, your true obsession is to help them reach the Celestial Kingdom."
  • The relationship enlightens your understanding, which is related to repentance. Repentance really means "a fresh view." You see the world with a renewed eye of faith.
  • The relationship begins to be delicious.
Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge (Alma 32:29).
Even with all these good things, you don't have a perfect knowledge yet.
And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit (Alma 32:37).
When you nourish it with great care, a relationship will grow. What is the fertilizer? Charity, the pure love of Christ. And how do you get Charity? You pray for it - it is a gift of the Spirit. Having the Holy Ghost makes it possible (see Moroni 7:47-48).

As a warning against breaking the law of chastity, the Institute instructor pointed out that sometimes people do things offensive to the Spirit when they are interested in someone. Without the Spirit, relationships suffer.
But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out (Alma 32:38).
Neglect will kill the roots. Then the heat of the sun - trials - cause you to cast it out.
But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life (Alma 32:41).
Nourish the relationship with faith, diligence, and patience. Then you will have the fruit that is promised. Then you will have an eternal marriage.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Faith, Hope, Love, and Creation

The Prophet Joseph Smith said,
It is by words … [that] every being works when he works by faith. God said, ‘Let there be light: and there was light.’ Joshua spake, and the great lights which God had created stood still. Elijah commanded, and the heavens were stayed for the space of three years and six months, so that it did not rain. … All this was done by faith. … Faith, then, works by words; and with [words] its mightiest works have been, and will be, performed.
This can have direct and powerful application within any relationship.

There are times in life when we want to love someone, but just don't feel it. How often do we hear about married couples who "fall out of love"? There is one cure. It is to say, "I love you." To say it and mean it, even when you don't necessarily feel it is an act of faith. It is also a way of creating the world you hope to live in, but can't currently see (see Alma 32:21).

In creating the future, saying "I love you" does not change those around you. But that's fine, it isn't supposed to. To use such powerful words as a way to control someone else is the opposite of love. A parent can't say "I love you," then become manipulative and still be believed by their children. Love can only be used "by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned" (D&C 121:41-42). Using love as a weapon fails every time.

Saying "I love you" is really an act of self-creation. It makes you the person you should be. Those words have the power to create a better world. It makes your future bright. And as President Monson recently said, "The future is only as bright as your faith."

Boyd K. Packer taught:
A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that “leap of faith,” as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two. “The spirit of man,” is as the scripture says, indeed “is the candle of the Lord” (Prov. 20:27).
To create that feeling of love within your own heart, you have to take the same leap of faith.

Love grows just like testimony. Alma 32 talks about how the word of God is like a seed. Comparing love to a seed provides just as many insights (actually that is good for another blog post).

So if you face a difficult circumstance in life where you know you should love someone and don't, tell them you love them. That will simultaneously be an act of faith, hope, love, and creation.