Monday, May 8, 2017

Gratitude for America

I have just been thinking lately how incredibly blessed I feel to live in America. I know our country isn't perfect, but we have so many opportunities and blessings that many other countries do not have. Yes, I'm white, I come from a good family, I have an education, have a nice home. So maybe these things make me unqualified to say things are pretty great in America, but I think that we, as a society, have a fundamentally wrong view of how we should be measuring our lives. Is it unfair that I was born into the family that I was? That I have things that maybe some others don't?  Our depth of suffering shouldn't be measured by a socioeconomic hierarchy. What I suffer may not be the same or seem as "difficult" as someone else but that doesn't mean my opinion or how I see in the world isn't valid or important. Anyone can see blessings around them, because really, someone else always has it "worse". I may not know what it's like to be homeless, or divorced, or a victim of domestic violence, but maybe most of those people don't know what it's like to literally starve to death, to have no access to shelters, or healthcare, or clean water. And maybe there are exceptions, but I think we as a society tend to FOCUS on exceptions and then see our country through a very cynical lens. Yes, there are people that will suffer injustices, but I feel like, as a whole, our country is amazing. We have so much freedom. We can go to college if we want, we can work, we have access to good food and government programs and private agencies that give so much to help those in need. We do have protection through law enforcement, and I know, it's not perfect, but we don't live in anarchy. We don't fear for our lives every single day. And yes, there are people that may not be able to afford healthcare, but people aren't dying from curable diseases everyday.  Our modern medicine and technology is among the best in the world.  We should feel so immensely grateful for that! I just feel discouraged sometimes with a lack of optimism and gratitude that I see, mostly from media. But I have alot of hope as well because of what I see around me. The service, the love, and the compassion, that so many people in my neighborhood and community give to each other. I am proud of that and grateful for that! We can all spread goodness and kindness, no matter our race, family situation, or socioeconomic status. And we shouldn't measure success in life by these things but by the kind of people that we are.  I believe that differences in circumstances SHOULD exist so that people can become good. At the end of my life, God will not ask me how much money I had or if I had a great family situation or what color my skin was. He will not ask what level of college I got to or if I had a smart phone or a nice car. But He will ask what  I did with what I was given  and how I treated other people. How did I become more holy and pure and loving?  How did I handle the responsibilities and stewardships given to me?  These things should be the measure of our lives. And everyone will be different, and that's the way it supposed to be! So I guess I'm just trying to say, let's look at life through a different lens, and be grateful. ❤️

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Society and Choices

A couple of things have been on my mind lately, mostly due to what I've been reading recently concerning people's thoughts and opinions on various issues. This is mostly for my own cathartic purposes, but I hope others can get some value out of this as well. :) My thoughts have been  centering around our society's views on right and wrong, people's choices, laws, etc. So I hope you will bear with me as I share some of my thoughts on these subjects.

Most behaviors in our society can be agreed upon as either right or wrong.  For example, I think mostly everyone can agree that it's wrong to lie, steal, murder, etc. (There may be many out there who will argue there is a time and a place for lying. I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty of having to answer honestly if somebody asks if their outfit makes them look fat... πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚)  I'm just saying that there are certain things that everyone can agree are wrong because they directly hurt someone else in a specific way, meaning the negative outcome is measurable (murder, assault, theft, etc.)  And because the effect is measurable, these things are punishable by law. Then there are things where the lines of right and wrong are blurred because of people's opinions. Things like homosexuality, abortion, pornography, adultery. In regards to these things, I often hear the idea that people should be able to do whatever they want as long as it isn't hurting someone else. Well hurting someone how? Physically, yes. But what about emotionally? Adultery is an interesting one because I think everyone would agree that it emotionally hurts many people (spouse, kids) but it is not punishable by law. In general the law doesn't punish people that hurt others only emotionally. There is always some physical element involved as well. But the health of our society is dependent on the spiritual, emotional, and mental health of individuals and families, more so than physical. We can't focus on the physical consequences only. Many things that laws actually support or don't address at all are emotionally and mentally destructive (pornography is a big one). So laws aren't necessarily the guiding or deciding factors in whether or not something is right or wrong. Laws govern behavior, afford protection, and regulate consequences, which can be a good thing. But too many laws are often evidence of a lack of morals. "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws"--Tacitus. 

Another point I want to address is how people's personal views should play into the public sphere. I really don't like when I hear people use the principle of separation of church and state to say that people who are religious or spiritual shouldn't bring those views onto politics. What? What about people whose view of the world is based on science or mythology or atheism.  Everyone has views about life and the world that stem from somewhere. So how is anyone not supposed to bring their personal views into how they think or how they vote? I cannot say I will live my life in one way then condone things I believe are fundamentally wrong (as in DESTRUCTIVE to society, not things like "black people shouldn't be able to shop at Costco") in the political or public sphere. And it's not about taking away people's rights. It's about deciding what choices people should have in regards to the health of our society. It's about standing up for things that I believe are fundamentally right and that society will benefit from in the long run. Would we vote to support people being able choose whether or not they want to do drugs or be prostitutes or drink and drive? Those things won't necessarily hurt others physically, so why should there be laws against them? Because the emotional and possibly physical damage they could do is real. We know that these things in our society have the potential to have some very bad physical and emotional consequences. I feel it is the same with pornography and abortion. And again, I get that not everyone will think the same things are going to be bad for society, but if you believe something is destructive and will severely and negatively impact society, why would you stand by and not do something? Why would you not stand up for it and fight for it even if it doesn't allow someone to do whatever they want? That is why we have laws in place, to govern behavior, to tell people what is and what is not okay to do. So I will use the values I have to influence society for good.

Just to clarify, separation of church and state means the following, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." The reason our founding fathers made this law was so that people would be FREE to practice and live whatever religion they chose; so that the government could not dictate which religion they practiced. Our society has taken this way too far the other direction by saying that religion shouldn't be a part of anything having to do with government. Not the way this principle was supposed to be interpreted. 

I know there are always going to be differences in viewpoints in our society, and I believe we should try and listen and understand those who don't share our views. But I also think there's nothing wrong with standing your ground. I think we can all do a better job of stating our views and opinions respectfully and conceding if we are in error. I am grateful for differing viewpoints because it helps me re-evaluate and be more confident and firm in my own beliefs. I hope you enjoyed the read! 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Why It Really Is About Love

I am writing this blog because I've felt sad the last few days, well years really, reading the opinions, positions, comments and posts about issues having to do with gay marriage. It seems like many people are jumping to false conclusions based on inaccurate information. I am a Mormon, and I feel discouraged and disheartened to know that we are criticized and attacked for these beliefs--especially when I think people really haven't taken the time to understand the motives and intentions behind them. So let's pretend for just a minute that you're actually a Mormon. I know, why would you ever want to be one? They're prudes, they have out of date beliefs, they're judgmental, they're uncool, unpopular, and just plain weird. Well that last part is probably true. ;) But if you can think just for a minute--if you believed the things that we believe, what would you ask us to do instead? Would you ask us to abandon what we hold to be sacred and true?  I would hope not, but instead, I would hope that you would try to understand where we're coming from. So here we go, here's where we're coming from:

1. We believe in a right and a wrong. We do not believe in moral relativism--meaning that individuals decide what is right and wrong in terms of righteousness and sin. We believe that is God's job. So if God says something is sinful we believe it is sinful, and we would not support or encourage anyone to pursue or participate in a behavior which would ultimately preclude him from returning to live with God (which is kind of the main purpose for us being here on earth). :) We want to return to Heavenly Father and be given all the blessings He has in store for us, and we want the same for all of God's children (who are our brothers and sisters). God wants us to use our time here on earth to become good and holy people through our righteous choices and if we don't care about the rightness or wrongness of choices, where will that take our society? What will that be teaching future generations?

 2.  God is no respecter of persons. He sent his son Jesus Christ to atone for all mankind. That means that the Atonement has the power to save everyone.  No one is exempt from God's love or the power of Christ's Atonement. But, just because God loves the individual unconditionally, that does not mean he unconditionally accepts any behavior that individual wishes to engage in. The Atonement is there so we can become like our Savior, so that we can become better every day, so that we can repent and change and overcome our weaknesses. It is a wonderful and merciful gift. We are all sinners and we all require the saving grace of the atonement.

3. We believe in eternal families. We believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. We believe that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of his children. I'll say that again: ETERNAL destiny. If we thought this earth life was as good as it's ever going to get, many things would be tragedies: couples not able to have children, people who want to marry but never have the chance to do so (including those with same-sex attraction), physical and mental disabilities, illnesses, the heartbreak of infidelity, death of a loved one, etc. If the consequences of these situations were permanent, how sad and awful that would be. But in the eternities (in heaven) faithful individuals and families (meaning those who abide God's laws even when it's hard and they don't understand what the heck His plan is for them) :) WILL receive all the blessings God has in store for them. We will see our loved ones again, couples will find happiness in marriage and in having children, disabilities will disappear, etc. If we see earth life through this eternal perspective, a lot changes!

4. We believe that God has restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our day to give us tools so we can return to Him. One of those tools I'd like to mention is modern-day apostles and prophets. Jesus Christ is at the head of this church, but His chosen apostles are His spokesmen here on the earth. We believe they receive revelation from God in regards to the church in our day. So if an official announcement is made, it is from God and not made up by ignorant, hateful, power-seeking men. You might think that, but we don't. We also believe each individual person has the right to receive revelation for him or herself and for his or her family. Not as a contradiction to what God has said for the church as a whole, but to receive personal answers to issues that may be troubling or disconcerting. Prayer is so important and we believe every person should strive for a personal relationship with God. There may be different things that are right for different people at different stages of their lives and progression. (Not the same as moral relativism, but just realizing that we are all on different journeys and come from different backgrounds and circumstances, and that we need to be sensitive to that).

5. We believe in treating all people with kindness. We are obviously aware that not everyone feels the same way about our beliefs as we do. Many of you reading this might think that believing what we do is ridiculous and that we need to change it now. BUT, how you feel about our beliefs does not change the fact that we believe this is truth. And we need to act in accordance with our beliefs. That is the right and privilege of living in this wonderful country and we should not fear or be made to feel ashamed of the things that we hold dear. Just the same as you. But never at any time has any leader of our church condoned or supported any action that is unkind, aggressive, or belittling to someone who holds different beliefs than we do. If there are members of our church who have acted this way it is out of their own insecurities and imperfections that they are doing so. We are taught that Jesus Christ treated all those he came in contact with with kindness and love. But we also know he did not condone or support sin and we are trying to do the same.

I realize that was long-winded but I hope that it clarified some things for you and I hope that you can appreciate and understand where we are coming from. We are honestly not coming from a position of hate or discrimination. It is sincerely out of love and a desire to see all of God's children receive a fullness of His blessings, especially after this life is over.  Okay, so you might think well then what about the recent announcement? Why aren't you allowing these children to receive these blessings? I would like to refer you back to #3 above. We know that various earthly circumstances might necessitate a delay in making covenants. The church would rather put the stability of the family (yes, even one where there are same-sex parents) above the immediacy of making covenants. That will come as it will for all those who choose good and are faithful. I know that this policy was made to protect these children and their families. The church would never put itself in a position to be the source of division between a child and his or her parents. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them for you or clarify anything that might be confusing in this post. Thank you!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Judge Righteous Judgement

"Judging" is a word that gets thrown around very liberally in our day and age. If someone says something in opposition to your opinions or behaviors, they are "judging" you. If they don't agree with your choices or choose not to participate in something they find inappropriate (but that you are okay with) then they are judging you. I really think there needs to be some clarification on the word "judge". I really don't think it means what we think it means! :)

First, in the Book of Mormon, the prophet Mormon talks about making judgments about good and evil. He says, "For 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." So we need to make judgments if we are to make good choices. We have to know the good from the evil. And how do we know the good from the evil? It is not always going to be apparent, especially in the time we live in, what is good and what is evil. Mormon says we "should search diligently in the light of Christ". We need to want to know the truth and seek after it. There is so much out there that can confuse and deceive us. So many things are apparently good and seem to make us happy. But again Mormon tells us to "take heed" that we should "not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil." So this kind of judging is important for us to do in order to make good and correct choices.

Secondly, the word "judge" is used to talk about the dealings of God and/or Jesus Christ with us. They will judge us according to our desires, thoughts, deeds, actions, etc. The apostles and other leaders are also given this role and responsibility--to judge those whom they have stewardship over. This brings up the point that judgment, meaning the act of deciding what a should be done with a person, is not for us to decide. Especially in terms of the final resting place of the children of a God. God is the one who decides where we will be. He alone knows us--our intentions, our actions, our circumstances, our hearts. As human beings, we do not truly know this about any of our fellow men. We are not to decide who someone is or what they deserve. We really do not know. Does this mean we have to agree with what everyone does? It seems that is a mentality our society has adopted: that disagreeing with someone or thinking something they are doing is wrong means we are "judging" them. Well to a certain degree I guess we are, but I don't think that's a bad thing. It really is possible to disagree with someone's choices and still love them and treat them kindly and with respect. We can make judgments about things without being JUDGMENTAL about people. The word "judgmental" more describes how we look at and treat people, and that is where we can mess up. If our judgement of a person's behavior impacts now we treat that person, we need to reevaluate. Jesus Christ was the perfect example of teaching truth and inviting others to do good, but without making them feel stupid or unworthy or unloved. He did not condone sin, but neither did He condemn the sinner.

We should follow Jesus Christ's example of love and kindness and always treat people as He would, no matter what we think of their behavior or choices. We should remember that we are all children of God and that everyone has had different life circumstances and experiences that have brought them to different points in their lives. We are all imperfect, but we can help and inspire each other to become better just by being a friend, an example, a confidant; and not letting differences affect the way we treat each other.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Family

"Ideals are like the stars: we never reach them, but like the mariners of the sea, we chart our course by them." --Carl Shurz

I think all of us know that the world we live in is kind of crazy and messed up! :) We see awful things happening all around us, BUT we also see such goodness! It's hard to believe such opposite things can exist side by side. People talk of solutions to the world's problems: more government help (my thoughts on that on a previous blog post) :), stricter laws, improved understanding and help for the sick (mentally and physically), better school systems, etc. But ironically, I think we are lacking, as a society, in focusing on the one thing that would improve our society: the FAMILY. Families are the fundamental unit of society. They are where we learn and grow; where we teach and nurture; where we feel love, happiness, safety, and peace. And of course we all experience, to some degree or another, the negative side of family life--sadness, contention, anger, fear, abuse, divorce. We are human and these feelings and situations are inevitable, but God gave us families because as challenging as it is sometimes, that is His plan for each of us. He knows that successful families bring the greatest joys and allow us to reach our full potential--to become as He is. The "ideal" does not exist in any case, but the quote I posted above says what I think we sometimes miss: that just because we are not perfect as families, it does not mean we stop teaching the ideal. God's plan for ALL of His children is one of happiness and one of families. Teaching these things is not meant to make those who are not the ideal feel guilty or inferior, it is meant to give us HOPE. Hope that even though we do not have the ideal now, we will receive it if we are faithful. We all have things that keep us from the ideal, but the point is that we know what God's plan is for us, and we follow it to the best of our ability. Elder Bruce D. Porter said, "We live in a day when the love of many, even toward their own children, is waxing cold; a day when so many people love pleasures more than God; a day when good is called evil and evil good. Those who defend the traditional family, who stand for fidelity and chastity and all that once was considered wholesome and praiseworthy are mocked and ridiculed. On the other hand, those who see no problem with fatherless homes, who advocate abortion, who fight all attempts to limit pornography, and who seek to redefine the very essence of what a family is, are praised and upheld as champions of tolerance. Truly, the world has turned upside down." So very true. There are all kinds of ideas and opinions out there about the family and we might think it just doesn't really matter anymore. But it does. God's word is unchanging and drifting away from what He has taught will only bring misery, both as individuals and as nations. But imagine if each one of us had a personal relationship with a God, if we knew we were literal children of God, felt His love for us, and shared it with our families and everyone around us? Imagine how different society would be. If we make God a part of our lives, and seek for His guidance, His counsel, His truth, we cannot fail. "...remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth His mighty winds, yea His shafts on the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation upon which men build they cannot fall." Jesus Christ is our Savior. He alone can change us and that's how we change our families, our society, and the world.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Marriage and Family

I have been thinking a lot about marriage and kids lately. First of all, I feel very thankful and blessed to have the family that I do. My kids and my husband truly are amazing. Not that we're perfect, we definitely have lots of things we could work on, but I do feel like we try and that's the important thing. Anyway, I was talking with a friend today and we were talking about a mentality that seems to exist among some stay-at-home moms or even working women--that their husbands are like their kids--they have to tell them what to do, remind them of what's important, give permission for the activities they're allowed to do, etc. Also, some women think that they are entitled to have their husband's help 24/7 and they get mad if he doesn't fulfill her every whim because SHE has the harder job and he needs to realize that SHE needs a break and how dare he do anything else! Sorry, this may sound harsh--in no way am I suggesting that women do not need support and help from their husbands, of course we do! But it's more the attitude with which it is done, like somehow men don't have any burdens and they need to cater to the women since all they do is stay home with the kids. This really bothers me and maybe it stems from women not finding joy at home because being a mother can be stressful and monotonous. I've read a few articles lately that seem to be sending the message: don't worry if you don't find joy in your life, don't worry about seizing the day, don't feel guilty for feeling stressed and angry instead of happy and joyful--you are entitled to feel that way because you're doing a really hard and tedious thing! (Being a MOM!!) Mmmmm... don't get me wrong, I completely understand the stressed and frustrated and the "my life is really tedious" feelings, no question about that! But I don't know, it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way, like it's an excuse for us not to find joy in the hardships of being a mother. I know I could do so much better with that, so maybe that's why it made me think a little bit about what mentalities exist and are accepted out there, and what mentality do I want to have in my life? I know it's okay not to feel happy and joyful all the time, I shouldn't feel guilty about that. But that should not stop me from trying to savor every day or moment with my kids instead of feeling like I can't wait until they get out of the house!!! Are they getting those vibes from me, that I am happier when they're not there? WOW, how would I feel if I felt like my parents thought that about me? I know I've written about this before, so forgive me, but it's just something I feel so strongly about. And maybe I'm just missing the boat here because I haven't gone through "hard" things relative to some of those around me, but is there anything that would be too hard in my life for me to say to Heavenly Father, "Sorry, I just couldn't find joy in anything you gave me.." We all have our challenges, seen and unseen, but it doesn't change the principle: that I should be anxiously concerned for the welfare of my husband and children, even if it is hard. Are we all selfish sometimes? Of course, but just like I need the love and help from my husband, he needs me, just as much, to sacrifice for him, and love him even when it's hard. Jon does so much for us--it's stressful to have the role of provider and be a good husband, father, priesthood holder, etc. And of course it can't be all give, give, give, or take, take, take--marriage is a partnership and if one person is all take, take, take, and engaging in sinful behavior, of course that's different and we all need to be sensitive to those situations. But I read a book one time about marriage not being 50/50, it's more like 100/100. So that means that even if I feel like I DESERVE a break and need help, I shouldn't feel entitled to and expecting of it. I can be grateful and kind when my husband or child does something to help me-- not think, "Well it's about time!" If I gave a bit more, I might just find I get a lot more back! Yes, it's hard, there are days that stink and I feel like I just want to cry my eyes out. But I think that trying to develop more an overall attitude of love, and realizing everyday the divine purpose of which I am a part, really will help me find more joy in my family life. I received some good advice when Jon and I got married, "Try to out do each other in acts of service, but don't keep score." I love that and I know I can do better with everything that I've been talking about--I am in no way the perfect example of any of these things, but these are just some thoughts that have been on my mind and I feel like if we try and incorporate gratitude, service, and love into how we act towards our family members, that we will be happier in our lives, no matter what circumstances we may be in. I'm grateful for the ultimate example of love, Jesus Christ. He always thought of others first and was concerned for the welfare of everyone around Him. He did not tolerate sin and taught accordingly, but he was always loving and never judgmental or degrading. To quote an EFY theme I had 15 years ago (haha) :) "Joy in the journey!!" That's really what it's all about.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Gifts

I think the word gift is defined by how you see it. Something as simple as a stranger smiling at you in the store can be a gift--or it can be getting that new job you really wanted. I think the key is to focus on everything as a gift. It's so easy to focus on negative in this world. I have this issue where I don't want to feel too much joy or happiness because I think my life has been too blessed and suddenly I'll have a really huge trial that will shake me so badly I won't know how to pull out. Yes, it's my own lack of faith. We all have our struggles right? I am extremely grateful for the blessings I have in my life. My struggles are those that are not so apparent where as many people have trials that are visible to everyone. But regardless of that, we all have need of our Savior and His infinite Atonement. I know that faith is essential and that it is part of our earthly test to prove to Heavenly Father we will do the right things in the midst of good or bad. I feel like the line between right and wrong has become so blurred and that truth and morality have become matters of personal preference instead of eternal principles. I have been reading the Book of Mormon more intently lately and really feel that this book is a gift from our Heavenly Father. It is a warning voice to us in this day and age to avoid the evils and pitfalls of Satan. He is attacking the truths that are the foundation of Heavenly Father's plan, namely families and the sanctity of life. The devil really is a mastermind at subtlety. This poem says a lot about where things have gone in society:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

I love this because it's so true! We start focusing on the wrong things and failing to see the gifts that we have been given--we only see what we have been "deprived" of. Entitlement and deserve are dangerous words. God has given us so many gifts, yet satisfaction with many aspects of our lives seems at all time low. I was talking with my friend today and we were talking about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is really the cure to all the ills of the world. This is a gift to us that is rejected by so many because religion is not something to be seen anymore. Apparently freedom from religion has taken precedence over freedom of. It is a gift to be free to practice our beliefs and share our beliefs with others. I am so grateful that I can still do this, even if met with some hostility. Our ancestors fought and gave their lives to protect the freedom of religion. They wanted protection from the government forcing any one religion on the people, but never was it said that religion could not be a part of society and the political arena. Some may say that religion is confining but I say it's freeing. Living God's law can only bring blessings and failing to live it brings misery. Sometimes I feel like shaking people and saying, "Look! Look at this great gift that is in front of you! The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored and here it is on the earth--a gift given to us to be happy and receive all the blessings that God wants us to have." God's love is unconditional, but His acceptance is not. Of course there are certain ways we need to live and things we need to do to return to Him--if not, then why are we here? Belief is one things, but showing Him our commitment to Him is unwavering is quite another. Covenants are such great gifts to us as is the blessings of eternal families. Again some may say, He is asking too much of us--God would not want me to be unhappy so He will allow me to believe and live how I want. Just one problem there--why do people think they know what true happiness is more than God? We only have a very limited and earthly perspective, but God knows our eternal worth and potential. Those who have severe burdens or struggles placed upon them here will receive so many blessings in the world to come. God's plan is one of families and reaching our full and divine potential--He wants all of His children to receive this, but how can they if He allows them to follow after their every whim and desire? I know that God's plan for us demands hard things--we need to practice self-control and faith and sacrifices of time, money, etc. But these things are simply a manifestation of our faith and our willingness to prove to Him that we will not settle for less than what He wants for us!

“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation...." --Joseph Smith

Sometimes I read that and think, "Could I really do that? Sacrifice everything for the Gospel?" Sometimes I don't really know if I have the strength inside of me, but this I do know: that the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored through the prophet Joseph Smith in this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is TRUE. I know it is true because I have had multiple witnesses of the Spirit confirm to me that it is true. This is the only way we can really know anything--if we are struggling with a certain principle or idea, if we are sincerely seeking to learn of it's validity, we can pray and God will reveal it to us by the power of the Holy Ghost. And knowing that the Gospel is true does give me strength to perform the work and sacrifices that God would have me do. And He doesn't expect us to do all of this alone: He has given us the ultimate gift and that is His Son, Jesus Christ. He has given and given up everything for US because He loves us. But His gift is meaningless if we do not make it meaningful to us. Everyday we need to thankful for this precious gift and let it influence our lives--how we spend our time, how we treat others, etc. And this whole discourse is all for me by the way! :) But I hope that whoever reads this can find some strength and enlightenment as well. I am so grateful for the many gifts I've received in my life and I hope I can live worthy to receive all the blessings that my Heavenly Father has in store for me.