Sunday, March 7, 2010

Compare and Contrast

So often, I hear other converts share about how life was awful before they were LDS and life without the spirit was plain dreadful. So often, these powerful compare and contrast moments bring tears to the eyes of those sharing and listening to such powerful testimonies. As of late, I have thought about the contrasting moments in my own life, and to be honest... I don't remember much of what it was like before. I don't remember much of how life was without the spirit and I don't really want to. Instead, I want to remember what life is with the spirit and strengthen my testimony of the good. And I don't think revisiting the bad will help me with that.

So I write about moments when the spirit is strong. I write about moments when I know Heavenly Father is speaking to me. I write about moments when my testimony is strengthened. I write about moments when I have confirmation of how powerful prayer is. I write about moments when scripture study is moving my world. I write about moments when I am challenged but my faith perseveres. I write about moments when I feel a tender mercy. I write about moments when I share the gospel with others.

And I realized... I haven't written on this blog for a while. So although there's no real transition to my story, here goes nothing.

I've been thinking a lot about the compare and contrast principle. Of how misery enables us to feel joy. And oddly enough, I started to think about cold and hot weather. I thought... how amusing that Andy used to wear shorts in high school even though he went to high school in Salt Lake. And now, acquainted with the LA weather, he doesn't seem able to bear the cold as he once did. On the other hand, my brother, an LA boy, had spent all year in New York for school and subsequently, came home for winter break, undaunted by the cold LA nights because it was so much warmer than New York!

This taught me that environments are important because whatever environment we're placed in, we, as human beings, adapt. And what was hot before... might be warm now... what was cold before.. might be warm now. And similar to my feelings of wanting to always be reminded of the good moments, I also want to ensure I'm always in an environment that is uplifting, edifying and spiritually energized. I want to be in a place where I'm always keeping the commandments and always worthy of the Spirit. And I want to be in a place where not doing so has becomes a distant memory. In other words, my spiritual equilibrium is set at high and I will not tolerate anything less. Even if the world becomes "too cold" or "too hot" by temporal means, I will always have my gospel standards and always keep the commandments given to protect me and ultimately, never adjust for the world. The only adjustment I will make is towards God and the Son, not away.

So how do I do that? I guess... with the simple things.

Daily prayer and scripture study. I start and end my day with both - and it's become a shield for the ways of the world. It continually gives me strength to remember my Savior, His teachings and Heavenly Father's continual prophetic counseling and messaging. And in times where I might be susceptible to the ways of the world, when people are joking about inappropriate things at work, or when the radio has a song that offends the Spirit and me, it's like my daily studying and prayer give me the ammunition and power to just ignore it or turn it off. And I am reminded "that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise," (Alma 37:6).