Thursday, November 17, 2011

Young Women in Excellence Talk: Spiritual Bonfires of Testimony

I was supposed to speak at Young Women in Excellence night... I was all prepared, however 15 minutes before I was supposed to be there, we had a family emergency and I ended up not being able to go because we were at Urgent Care. All is well now, but I feel really bad. Anyways, just thought I'd post what I wrote for the occasion... because Elder Wirthlin is awesome and has wonderful insight.

I wanted to start off by saying thank you for the honor of speaking tonight. I haven’t been in Young Women's or had a calling in it for 12 years, but my love for the program is strong. You are a rare group of girls, beautiful and radiant. While I don’t know you all on an individual basis, I look at you and see pure, virtuous young ladies making a huge impact in this world and am humbled to be before you. I’ve prayed every night to know what needs to be said and I pray right now that the spirit will guide us and edify us... and that I wont bore the snot out of you.

The theme for tonight is the "purse-suit of happiness". I love that because happiness isn’t just going to hit you on the head one day. It’s something you have to actively seek for. Happiness comes in many shapes and forms. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin wrote a book entitled Finding Peace in our Lives and I wanted to share with you thoughts from it, specifically the chapter Spiritual Bonfires of Testimony. Because I know that true happiness is having a testimony of God the Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Before I do so, I’ll give you a brief background of my experience from Young Women's. We had a small group of girls, so much so that there was usually me, maybe another girl and my best friend who wasn’t a member at mutual activities. I wish I could say I was mature enough to go to activities because I had a deep desire to learn and better myself, but in all honesty it was to watch the guys play basketball after. My leaders loved me but I’m pretty sure I was super annoying to them because I’d always try to ask them off the wall questions. For example, one leader worked at a mental institution and I remember trying to get her to talk about the people there and if she worried they’d ever break out and find her. We were in the car for 20 minutes together and by the end she put her hand on my shoulder, thoroughly patient yet glad to get rid of me and said, Goodnight Sofia. Goodnight. I’m sure you are all wiser than I was. All your leaders speak very very highly of you.

I loved Girl’s Camp. It was a time to learn, feel the spirit and just enjoy life. My best friend that I mentioned would come and I’m grateful because I’m hoping those were the seeds planted that will be sown later on in life. One year we were camp mail women and we wore pink kimonos everywhere walking with wooden canes from Tijuana. Young Women’s is an inspired organization that is there to help us have happy memories. Not only that, but it can be a safety for us to help us through the drama of middle school and highschool. I held on to Young Womens. I went to church, I went to mutual. I attended seminary. I made a lot of mistakes and was far from perfect but Young Women’s and Personal Progress helped me build upon my testimony. Others from my laurel class didn’t see the value in it and 3 chose alternate lifestyles, 1 went to BYU met a non-member and married him and fell away from the church and 1 other just went inactive. I don’t know all the details of the younger girls but out of a group of 20, me and a girl named Ronnie stayed active. It’s pretty sad statistics and I wonder what happened. But at the same time I don’t. In two words, wolves happened.

Elder Wirthlin tells of large packs of quote “wolves that roamed the countryside of Ukraine many years ago. It made travel very dangerous. The wolf packs were fearless. They were not intimidated by people or by any of the weapons available at that time. The only thing that seemed to frighten them was fire. Consequently, travelers who found themselves away from cities developed the practice of burning a large bonfire and keeping it burning through the night. As long as the fire burned brightly, the wolves stayed away. But if the fire burned out, the wolves would move in for an attack. Travelers understood that building and maintaining a bonfire was not just a matter of convenience or comfort; it was a matter of survival.”

We obviously don’t have to look far to see wolves all around us. They are on shirts, bumper stickers, hats, cups, license plates... you name it.
So what is the moral of the story and the point of my ramblings? Don’t go to UNR, go to BYU.... goooooooooooooo cougars!! UNR may pay our bills, but I’ll always prefer my alma mater. (**Sidenote dear readers, our local university has the mascot of wolf pack as pictured and my husband works there as an administrator)

All joking aside. Elder Wirthlin mentions some pretty vivid scriptures “1 Peter 5:8 describes our, “adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, that walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb.” D&C 122:6.”

The name of the program tonight is Young Women in Excellence, and you can tell. Because you step outside of this room and you see females who parade their bodies as trash. We live in Nevada, so we get an extra dosage of visuals that are nothing short of horrific, yet so sad. You step outside this room and hear girls with mouths that need to be duck-taped for the good of society and decency of the human race. You step outside this room and there are girls having babies, unwed, unskilled, uneducated and unprepared for the consequence of their choice. You step outside this room and you take a big breath and thank the Lord that He is the Lord and that you don’t have His job. It seems overwhelming that there are so many willing to run with the pack and be led captive into misery. However, you take one step in this room and you can breath. You take one look around and here, here are Young Women in Excellence. Here are the Young Women, the leaders, the examples, the virtue and goodness that make the rest of us have hope. And why are you excellent? Because of your light.

Happiness is having the bonfire of a testimony. Perhaps it may be just a small one, perhaps it is a raging inferno ready to burn the desert we live in down... either way, we can always add fuel to our testimony and make it stronger.

Our dear apostle Elder Wirthlin suggests “3 ways that will fan the flame of personal testimony as a protection against the wolves of evil that are prowling all around us to threaten our spiritual security. First, our testimonies must be built upon a solid foundation of faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.” Can anyone recite from memory Helaman 5:12? “And now, my sons, 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 in 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 whereon if men build they cannot fall.”

I was never a cheerleader, I was too self conscious of my thighs and not willing to work out. With that said, I still would rather watch cheerleaders than a football game. Something about guys in spandex who grunt and bash heads has no relevance to me. So back to cheerleaders.... when I think of cheerleaders making a pyramid formation, they always put the more robust girls on the bottom? Why? Obviously the waifs aren’t going to be able to support everyone. So it is with the Big Man upstairs, they don’t call Him the Big Man for nothing. He is all wise, all capable and ready to support us in all our righteous endeavors.

The second idea to fan the flame of personal testimony is, “We must repent humbly and sincerely.” I love the analogy Elder Wirthlin makes,“Anything that does not draw us closer to God takes us away from him.”

And the last idea he mentions is this, “Third, we must follow the example of the Savior.” How can we have a testimony of someone we don’t follow? We’re not asked to turn water into wine or atone for the sins of the world. 1 John 2: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” John continues on in Chapter 3 “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

What is the day the widow’s husband died? Leave a plant on her doorstep with a card that says, today is a hard day, but know you are loved more than words can say. Smile and wave at the car next to you. Say hello to people you don’t know at church. Post Ghandi quotes on facebook about making the world a better place.

The pursuit of happiness is consistently striving to gain a testimony of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. And today’s as good a day as any to decide what you know to be true. A testimony isn’t thanking people, a testimony is BAM... The Lord lives, I know this is true. We need to be ready to bear testimony at anytime. Be confident in the knowledge you’ve gained.

What is our happily ever after if we do so? Mosiah 2:41 “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” Never ending happiness!! Cha Ching!!

I’d like to close with this Luis Vuiton purse. It’s worth I’m sure some money. My Aunt gave it to me when I was a young woman. I loved it because my Aunt gave it to me but I've never used it because I'm happy with my $3 clearance purse from Target. Recently we had a garage sale and I wanted to sell it because frankly, I never use it. I wanted $20 and this lady cruises up in her Landrover and says she’ll give me $5. This purse is worth so much more. Forget that. I want you all to know that your testimonies are worth more than you can ever ever ever possibly imagine! You are all precious daughters of God. Wolves will try to sell you short and undermine your worth... but you are so much more. You are God’s instruments to usher in the 2nd coming of the Lord. Know your Lord and be confident in your testimony.

I bear my personal witness the Jesus Christ lives. He is our very best friend. He is with us to support us and bear us up in our weakest moments. He will never fail us. He is our source of true joy. Heavenly Father is our Father. We are His children. He wants us to be like Him and has provided a perfect plan for this to happen. I love and worship the Father and the Son and testify that They are mighty to save and all powerful. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

1 comment :

East Meets West said...

Thank you for sharing your talk Sofia - and for all of your ideas throughout the year. Merry Christmas to you and your family!