Sunday, August 21, 2011

Commitment

I was asked to speak at our Stake Conference this past weekend. For me, in Dubuque, Iowa, this meant I had to drive 80 miles to the stake center in Davenport, Iowa and have it video streamed back to Dubuque. I was excited and pleased to receive the phone call asking for me to speak. I enjoy speaking and sharing my thoughts, and I especially enjoy speaking in front of hundreds of people! (kind of rare, I know, most people hate public speaking) But there is something about doing research, pondering and praying, writing down my thoughts and ideas, and then sharing my knowledge and testimony to the congregation that really satisfies me. I enjoy teaching, especially adults. I love having all eyes on me, and making their listening to me worth their time.
Maybe I'm just weird or something.
I have copied the talk that I gave for anybody who would be interested in reading it. The topic was on commitment.


Hello! I will be sharing my knowledge and thoughts to you about commitment. My first thought on the word “commitment” when thinking about the church was “commitment to the Lord –that is a commandment!”
I thought about this all week and decided to begin by looking up the definition of commitment in the dictionary. I have an interest in learning words, origins and definitions, so this was not only helpful in getting me started and giving me ideas, but I had fun learning more about a topic that I didn’t realize had so much potential depth to it. There were a lot of varying definitions, but they all sum up to mean that you give of yourself in one way or another. Devote, ordain, perpetrate, engage, and give were all words related to “commit”. Now “commitment” is simply “commit”- and all there is to that binding word - put into action.
So we have a basic definition of what commitment means. But how is commitment a part of our lives?
I’ll give some examples of my own life and things that I have temporal commitments towards.
I have a chronic illness that has made my body susceptible to illnesses and intolerant towards many foods. In order to maintain a generally healthy life, I have to be committed to a healthy diet and exercise. Granted, we all should have a commitment towards healthy living, but over the past years mine has grown to be a lot more specific and demanding, creating bigger consequences if I do not devote myself to healthy habits. Being committed to this means I care about what I am doing.
I am also committed to my talents. I am a musician and desire to be successful in this field, so I am required to dedicate a lot of my time towards practicing and a lot of my money towards taking care of my cello, so that I can ensure that I can continue to grow and succeed. Because I have decided to be committed to this, I cannot just stop giving my time and money towards this and expect to have the same results in the end. If I just stopped all together, dropped everything for a couple of years and expected to come back and be able to do everything the same way as I used to be able to, I would just be kidding myself. My hands would not be as strong and the muscle memory would be lost. My cello would likely be warped or cracked from not having the delicate wood tended to. The strings would be worn and out of tune from not being played. Being committed to anything means you give your time.
My education is something that I hold to an extremely high standard in my life. I always want to learn. I am forever grateful for this life I have on earth and the time I have, and I want to spend as much of that time as possible learning. Temporally, spiritually, whatever there is to learn, I want to learn it. It excites me. I have a rough plan of what degrees I want to earn in order to have my ideal career, and if I end up having the right amount of time and money in this life, I will end up with two or three bachelor’s degrees, one or two master’s, and maybe a doctorate thrown in there as well. (Of course, this is all just a rough plan.) My temporal education is very important to me, as well as my spiritual education, which is why I am active in church, work hard on studying my scriptures at least once a day, attend institute and participate in discussions, and have doctrine related discussions with many of my friends. I have a love for learning, and I am committed to it. Being committed to something means you need to have some passion and desire.
Now, looking at my education plan and considering the costs of maintaining my health and music from a worldly point of view, there is lot of money that is going to be involved. I also hope to be married for time and all eternity to a worthy young man in the temple. Whether or not marriage happens for me, in the not-so-distant future, I will be taking a lot of expenses in on my own, such as my own insurance, paying rent or making a down payment on a house and living with mortgage, continuing my education, raising children, eating, driving, living, it is all going to cost money, and I have been working for the past few years saving up money so that when the day comes that I start taking bigger financial steps, I will be ready. I am committed to this, because I know it is wise for me to do this. Being committed means you are dedicated with reason.
These are all temporal things that I have a commitment towards. And the same way that I have commitments for these things, there are many spiritual things in life that I am committed to in order to ensure that I am keeping God’s commandments and becoming the best possible person I can be, as a witness of Christ, and a child of God.
There are many things in the church that we should be committed to, but I will touch on just a few of them today.
The Lord has given us many commandments. We are instructed to keep all of them. This is not always easy, especially in today’s world where laziness, stress, and too much worldly involvement can easily distract us from the straight and narrow path we need to be on.
One commandment that we should all be committed to obeying is tithing. In Doctrine and Covenants section 64, Joseph Smith is speaking through revelation from God in Kirtland, Ohio. He talks about repentance, tithing and pride, and how this is the day to repent, to give our tithing and not be prideful of our sins and possessions. The Lord tells Joseph in verse 23 that these days are days of sacrifice, and He specifically says that “he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.” Later in the chapter it also says that “the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.” Does this not sound like we need to be committed toward these commandments? Just as we are working hard to be financially stable and successful in life, we need to be dedicated to working hard to build up the land of Zion by repenting ourselves so that WE can be a worthy and righteous addition to those in Zion, and also give willingly of one tenth of our earnings so as to help build up temples and maintain all that needs finances in the church. Commitment here, just as in our temporal lives, requires hard work and dedication.
There are many other commandments we should be committed to, such as the word of wisdom, chastity, holding our callings, sustaining our families both temporally and spiritually. All of these are commanded of us.
As I mentioned earlier in my example of my cello, we must ALWAYS be working on keeping ourselves clean from sin and keeping the commandments. We cannot expect to be able to just give into the temptations of the world, have a “fun” life, as defined by the world, drinking, gambling, messing around with drugs just to “try them out”. Giving into our natural physical sexual desires, becoming morally unclean, and becoming an addict to the chemicals in our own brain that tell us to “get some more of that”, thus forming evil habits; this will surely destroy us. Yes, it is possible to repent, but it will put so much more work in front of you and it will slow your progress in doing the work of the Lord greatly. Your spirit, much like a cello, will warp if you ever cease to be committed to strengthening it. It will crack and be damaged. Parts that used to shine beautifully and create things pleasing unto the Lord will be worn, damaged, and unusable. However, it is reparable. Brothers and sisters, if you have lost the desire to be committed to the Lord and can sense that your spirit is damaged and dull; it is never too late to polish things up and start the repair work. Through Christ and the atonement, all cracks and dents will be gone, forever forgotten. It is work, yes, but even those who have always remained faithful and have rarely lost sight of the straight and narrow path have a lot of work still for them to do. We ALL have work to do. Through our commitment to the Lord, we can live with Him for all eternity.
I think now of some of the greatest examples of commitment the scriptures have given us. There is Alma, who prayed and worked earnestly, never ceasing, for his son to be brought into the light and turn his life around. His unfettering faith, determination, and commitment to the Lord allowed his prayers to be answered. And then in turn, his son Alma the Younger traveled far and wide, doing missionary work for the rest of his life. It was not easy work either – missionary work hardly ever is – but Alma had an incredibly difficult time teaching lands full of people who had never even heard of the gospel and believed Alma to be evil, thus casting him out. But Alma persisted; he was committed to the Lord and obeying the commandments he had been given, because he had a testimony that he knew this was true, and he had the desire, the want, the passion to share this knowledge with his fellow brothers and sisters in God. Along with Alma were many others, such as Lehi, who uprooted his family and took them to places that were unknown to them, but kept a sure commitment with the Lord. Abinidi, who stayed true to his testimony and to God through the flames of death. Moroni, who kept the gospel and priesthood alive as long as he lived, knowing he would be the last on this land for a very long time, yet holding strong to his faith anyway. These are astounding examples of commitment.
But the most perfect example of commitment that we have to learn from today is that of Jesus Christ. He had a perfect faith unlike any that we can have in this life. In the garden of Gethsemane, when He was bleeding from every pore, suffering more than we could ever possibly imagine or begin to understand, He trusted the Father. He went through all that He went through because the purpose of His life was to be fully committed to God. And we have this perfect, beautiful example to live up to. It is so important that we, as children of God, strive to be like our older brother. Care about what we are doing, give all of our time and efforts to becoming Christ like. Have a passion and desire to become like Christ and to strive to learn more every day about the Gospel and the Lord’s plan for us. Be dedicated. Like the prophets of old. Be strong. Be faithful, true, obedient, loving, hard working. This is commitment to the Lord God, and Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior.
I have a testimony that these things are true, I know this to be true from the bottom of my heart, and I say these things in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen.

2 comments:

  1. This was a beautiful talk! What an honor to be able to speak at your stake conference! Like you I love speaking - I get nervous but I love sharing what I know. Spencer and I have been asked to speak during sacrament and I'm excited to get that chance! Enjoyed reading this - thanks for posting!! <3

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  2. This is a great talk, Laura. No wonder Sister Tallent liked it so much. Your comment on paying tithing reminded me of Brother Thayne. When he taught us seminary, he called tithing payment "Fire Insurance." xD

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