Wednesday, December 7, 2011

RS lesson: From Him I'll gain my Fondest Dream"

Seeing as I already referenced this lesson I thought I better post it.

Photo courtesy of thinking this is an image he sees often.

So I was asked to speak to a bunch of LDS college students last month. And I wanted to talk to them about dreams, and about how life doesn't always turn out like we plan, but that if we turn our life over to the Lord He will make everything amazing.

When I was asked to switch months for teaching Relief Society, that talk was still swirling in my ind, and it got re-vamped for the sisters. It was very interesting to see how the message changed for a different group of children of God. Both went well...a message I needed to internalize, one I know pretty good in theory but too often forget in the everyday.

Relief Society Lesson “From Him I’ll Gain my Fondest Dream”

Think about some of the dreams you had? Who’s on plan “A”? (I was at a women's conference where that was asked and out of hundred of sisters only a couple rose their hand, and I'm pretty sure they missed the question!)

In a journal I have at home I have a dream list. Things I want to do & see in this life. I started that list in my first year of university and I have added to and altered it over time. I have even been blessed to check off quite a few things. See a Broadway play. Graduate University.
I was blessed to serve a mission, marry in the temple, and become a mother. And there are yet things I hope to do.
But today I want to talk to you about some of the things that weren’t on my list.

Think about what wasn’t on your list? things you didn’t expect.

I didn’t include on my list for my father in law only a few months after my own wedding to abandon, my new mother inlaw, his wife of 25 years and their 8 children, I didn’t plan on the emotional havoc that would reek on the family had just become a part of.  I didn’t include on the list of dreams for my eldest son Aaron to be Autistic and unable to speak unable to tell me where it hurts when he’s sick, or if kids are mean to him, I didn’t plan on countless hours and days devoted to his various therapies and … I didn’t expect to not really sleep for 5 years, while I worked the “night shift” as a young mom of three boys. Yup three boys. I didn’t plan on my husband changing his degree, or working in a job were he is required to travel extensively, he’s away right now infact. Nope. None of these things were on my dream list. I could spend hours telling you a various heartbreaks of friends and families and ward members, much more difficult than mine.

I spoke on this topic a few weeks ago at the institute. Where their dreams were all shiny new. Same topic, very different deliverance. Because when I said to them "Life is hard"….they thought they knew it was. When I say to you ladies: "Life is hard"…I have no doubt you know that all too well.

Life is hard.

There is a reason this encouraging quote  by Orson F Whitney is often quoted
 QUOTE #1:
“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. … It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.”1

QUOTE #2: Sister Beck has said “Questions about adversity, trial and struggles are the most universal because of the fact that we all struggle with something almost all of the time.

That was a liberating statement for me, because I thought “Oh, I can stop wondering when it’s gonna let up!”

Sister Beck the general Relief Society president, in a receipt interview spoke of meeting with sisters all over the world and hearing about their unmet dreams and expectations.

Some, she said, are sad because they are not married, or are and can’t have children. Others have families but struggle with the challenges that brings they didn't expect. Some are sad because they don’t have enough money. Others deal with sickness or death, that no amount of money can fix.

Sister Beck says that the underlying idea of all these things is that we all want to “live the dream.” Now.


[we had SUCH a great discussion  as we brainstormed the differences of what the Lord wants for us and what Satan makes us think we want!]
The world, under Satan’s philosophy tries to convince us that you can buy anything in this world for money, he wants us to believe that if we just wear the right clothes, or drive the right car, choose the right degree, so you can afford the right house in the right neighborhood and obtain this allusive lifestyle of constant fun and glamour, you will be able to avoid any pain, disappointment, sorrow or struggle.

I love how Sister beck put it: Despite popular media messages to the contrary, no one is rich enough, beautiful enough, or clever enough to avoid a mortal experience. In fact she says, it’s what we all signed up for.

Quote #3: Pres, Uchdorft warned us in the last general Relief Society
So many people today are waiting for their own golden ticket—the ticket that they believe holds the key to the happiness they have always dreamed about. For some, the golden ticket may be a perfect marriage; for others, a magazine-cover home or perhaps freedom from stress or worry.
There is nothing wrong with righteous yearnings—we hope and seek after things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.”4 The problem comes when we put our happiness on hold as we wait for some future event—our golden ticket—to appear.

Quote # 4: Sister Beck: A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence.

Sister Sheri Dew: “It is not possible to sin enough to be happy. It isn't possible to buy enough to be happy, or to entertain or indulge or pamper ourselves enough to be happy. It is not possible to hide enough or run far enough away from trials and troubles to be happy. Happiness and joy come only when we are living up to who we are... 

Let’s look at some examples of people in the scriptures who strove to live up to who they were  & who God wanted them to be.

PETER- Peter built up his fishing business, was asked to leave it all to follow Christ. 
Luke 5 :10 "Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men…forsook all and followed him."
Straight away left his nets…
 A return sister missionary gave an extraordinary talk last stake conference where she shared how after Christ’s death he goes back to fishing, back to the familiar, forgetting what he had learned. The Savior basically reenacts his call, by telling him to cast his nets on the other side. Christ asks later on shore lovest thou more than these?
Are our nets on the right side? Or are we saying to the Lord, look I’ve been here all day and caught nothing, unwilling to move our nets…our dreams/efforts etc
What dreams do we cling to because they’re familiar? What nets are so comfortable that they prevents us from seeing what the Lord has prepared for us?
ABRAHAM- dreamed his whole life of having a child, and just when his dream came true the Lord tests him.

Abraham, putting his long awaited dream on the alter.

What does the story of Abraham teach us about what the Lord wants from us and for us?
Sis Beck “Life is a series of losses”…Again this was a very freeing thought to me. But in reality everything we give up, if we give it to the Lord will can trust the God fulfills His promises.
Elder Holland has assured us:
 Some blessings come soon, 
some come late, 
and some don’t come until heaven;
 but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ,
 they come. 

Love that. So what is the purpose of our waiting?

(Skipped all this next bit...that's one of the hardest parts of teaching for me, being willing to follow the Spirit when it leads me to omitt "good stuff" that I prepared)

Elder  Holland  “An High Priest of Good Things to Come”
Don’t give up, boy. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it—30 years of it now, and still counting. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

On those days when we have special need of heaven’s help, we would do well to remember one of the titles given to the Savior in the epistle to the Hebrews…Paul—tells us that through His mediation and Atonement, Christ became “an high priest of good things to come.” 1
Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as “hope for a better world.”  For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of “good things to come.”

My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the “light that is endless, that can never be darkened.” 3 It is the very Son of God Himself. …
To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you …with a future of “better promises.” He is your “high priest of good things to come.”

…I think of young mothers and fathers who are faithfully having their families while still in school—or just newly out—trying to make ends meet even as they hope for a brighter financial future someday. At the same time, I think of other parents who would give any earthly possession they own to have a wayward child return.
I think of single parents who face all of this but face it alone, having confronted death or divorce, alienation or abandonment, or some other misfortune they had not foreseen in happier days and certainly had not wanted.
I think of those who want to be married and aren’t, those who desire to have children and cannot, those who have acquaintances but very few friends, those who are grieving over the death of a loved one or are themselves ill with disease. I think of those who suffer from sin—their own or someone else’s—who need to know there is a way back and that happiness can be restored. I think of the disconsolate and downtrodden who feel life has passed them by, or now wish that it would pass them by. To all of these and so many more, I say: Cling to your faith. Hold on to your hope. “Pray always, and be believing.” 5 Indeed, as Paul wrote of Abraham, he “against [all] hope believed in hope” and “staggered not … through unbelief.” He was “strong in faith” and was “fully persuaded that, what [God] had promised, he was able … to perform.” 6
How have God’s sure promises helped you hold on?

Pres Uchdorft used a fairytale analogy
Sandwiched between their “once upon a time” and “happily ever after,” they all had to experience great adversity. Why must all experience sadness and tragedy? Why could we not simply live in bliss and peace, each day filled with wonder, joy, and love?  The scriptures tell us there must be opposition in all things, for without it we could not discern the sweet from the bitter. 2 …in stories, as in life, adversity teaches us things we cannot learn otherwise. Adversity helps to develop a depth of character that comes in no other way. Our loving Heavenly Father has set us in a world filled with challenges and trials so that we, through opposition, can learn wisdom, become stronger, and experience joy.

Christ is the author and finisher of our faith.
Hebrews 12:2
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Christ finished His work, He is on the right hand of God and offers us the same reward.

Quote #5: Barbara B Smith said: We have the power and the capacity to inherit all that our Father has if we will begin the process and continue until we become what we are really meant to be.
Each individual is entitled to determine the ultimate destiny of his or her life. We can choose to use the powers within to have a happy life of continual growth and development that leads to eternal progression, or we can choose to follow the crowd of other people struggling to a top that leads to nowhere. (Barabara B Smith the power within us)

Did you hear the choices? All that the Father hath, or nothing?  

2 Nephi 2 :27 men are free… to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

Eternal joy or misery.
How could this be a difficult choice?
We are free. WE can choose Christ EVERY TIME.

There are so many things in life we can’t control, included some of those dreams we have on our lists.

What are we free to choose?  
There are alot of things in this life, beyond our control that we can't choose, BUT the choice we can always make
despite circumstance, or other’s agency, or sin, 
we can ALWAYS choose to go to Christ.

How have you used your agency to choose Christ despite things beyond your control? 

I testify, there is nothing better than the gospel. The world offers you nothing. Satan will never support you, he abandons and leaves heartache  and regret EVERY TIME. Whereas the Savior offers us everything!!

Sister Beck has explained “that mortality is NOT the dream, it is what prepares us for the dream! Preparing you so you can appreciate it and so it will have value.

He knows what He wants you life to be.
"This is my work and my glory." 
Glory includes knowledge. 
It’s like he’s saying, “This is my work, and I KNOW what I’m doing. I know how to save and exalt you. I know how to get you where you are going; 
I know how to make you who you are meant to become. 
 I know how to make your dreams come true. 
Trust me.

So back to MY dream list.  I don’t look at it as much as I once did. Instead, I spend more time on my knees trying to find out His will on a daily basis. Because I have learned something as I go back to what I see now as a bit immature plan for what a good life would include. I have learned that truth that Pres Benson taught that :

“Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He can deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, and pour out peace.” 

 I have learned that my Heavenly father’s dream for me is so much bigger and deeper than any I could have for myself. 
“I’m preparing you for the dream, so you can appreciate it, so it will have value!”

So I ask you to consider: One day, perhaps not until the next life, I know my son will finally look me in the eye and be able to say “I love you mommy” and what do you think that will mean to me? Will I take that for granted? 
Not a chance.

What dream will you defiantly not take for granted because of the experiences you've had in this life?
 Some blessings come soon,
 some come late,
 and some don’t come until heaven; 
but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, 
they come.
One day we will all meet our Savior, who paid the price for all of our dreams TO COME TRUE. And if in this life we have turned to Him, if we have used his great gift of the PRECIOUS atonement, if we have served and loved Him, and let HIM tell us what dreams we should be working towards,  as the hymn says, “from Him we’ll gain our fondest dream!”

What does that look like for you?
I was going to ask you to close your eyes. and picture it...but As beautiful as that image might be….it’s wouldn't be accurate because the scriptures say the dream is beyond our abilities to imagine. 
In fact, that dream is described the same way in every single one of the standard works.

Isa. 64: have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the aeye seen, …what [God] hath bprepared for him that waiteth for him.
  9 But as it is written, aEye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath bprepared for them that love him.

  16 And after this manner do they bear record: The aeye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father;

  116 Neither is man acapable to make them known, for they are only to be bseen and cunderstood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who dlove him, and purify themselves before him;

d&c 76: 10 For by my aSpirit will I benlighten them, and by my cpower will I make known unto them the dsecrets of my ewill—yea, even those things which feye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man

The Spirit can teach us and lead us to the greater dreams and purposes that the Lord has prepared for us in this life, those that will prepare us for eternity...

Then shall I see and hear and know
All I desired or wished below
And ev'ry power find sweet employ
In that eternal world of joy.

(Sweet is the work, Hymn #147 verse 4)

He will show us the way to the dream of all dreams: eternal life and exaltation, that we can’t even imagine.
That we will all let Him, and that we might live so that we might 
"Gain from Him our fondest dreams" is my prayer,

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

* Sister Beck quote came from this Q& A program


Jana B. said...Best Blogger Tips

Amazing and beautiful lesson, Chelsea! I would absolutely LOVE to sit in on one of your lessons.

JulieandGary Smith said...Best Blogger Tips

Loved the talk and the "studying" picture of you is so cute! Did you plan to have supper on an elevator and then get dumped out on some random floor? I bet you didn't write that on your list, haha.

Chelsea Belle said...Best Blogger Tips

@JulieandGary Smith

No, Julie, that wasn't on the list, but it surely was a dream come true!

Jaz said...Best Blogger Tips

Beautiful! I'm teaching on Jan 1sr and I may have to steal some/most of this!

Mont and Dawna said...Best Blogger Tips

What a great lesson and post. I don't know if you know me but I grew up in Cardston, in the same ward your husband was in ... you have a great blog and I love love LOVE the insights you shared in this post/lesson! Thanks. Great thoughts!

Liesel said...Best Blogger Tips

Where is the quote from President Uchdorf from?

Anonymous said...Best Blogger Tips

Thank you :)