Friday, January 8, 2010

My Spiritual Suitcase

I have the amazing blessing of living close to my grandparents. I often stay at their house, and I almost always forget to pack my toothbrush, or I only bring enough clothes for two days when I end up staying for a week.

That's the story of my life. I never pack enough of what I need. I hope beyond all hope that I 'pack' enough of what I need to make it to the celestial kingdom. I want to live with eternity in mind. I want my packing list to include enough faith. You can never run short of it. I want to pack away some service. Lots of service, because service is the key to true Christlike charity. I want to pack enough courage, so I won't break when temptations come. I want to pack enough love and gratitude. Enough to show those around me what they mean to me. I want to pack some knowledge, so I can be prepared. I want to tuck away enough experience, for with experience comes wisdom and light. I want to be prepared when the judgment day comes, and look back on my life and say I packed the right things for my journey.

And now I ask myself, am I seizing every opportunity so I can add it to my 'suitcase'? Am I wasting moments? There are opportunities in each of them, so vital for adding to the pack; but so fragile. One wasted moment is an opportunity gone forever. I can never gain that back. So, I'm asking myself: Am I doing everything in my ability to prepare myself for those moments? Or am I just skating by on a whim, letting life trap me in trivial, petty, unimportant daily tasks which yield me no knowledge, no preparation for when the real "storage" of learning needs restocked? And then I remember. I pray daily and read my scriptures. I try to follow God's commandments. I love the Lord and I drink in any spiritual juice I may need - to be prepared for those moments of adding to my suitcase. As long as I stay on the right track, I think I will find that I have packed enough for when eternity hits me in the face. As long as I remember the real purpose of this life on earth, I will do just fine.

Sometimes I catch myself in a rut... stuck with the wheels spinning but going nowhere. I catch myself slipping up, thinking important the things of no true importance. Thinking my pain is a petition to make everyone stop and take care of me. Thinking trivial gossip has truth. Thinking it's ok to skip scriptures for just one night. But when I get in these ruts, I remember this: I'm only packing my suitcase, and what I have in it determines my happiness. If I have packed unhappiness, lies, guilt, discouragement, and fear; then sad will be the judgment day, and regret will be my only remembrance of a life crumbling to dust. Those things don't last! But if I have packed faith, courage, strength, prayer, and service, then I will stand with no regret; prepared for the next step in my journey. And that sings sweet music to my ears. My heart is brim with joy at the thought of packing true tools that will help me in this life and whatever eternity holds. I can do this. With the Lord by my side, anything is possible. Words can't describe what I feel. I will keep on going, I will not falter. I have eternity in my sights, and I'm not letting go. Faith, strength, courage, virtue. That is my motto.

Genealogy and the Temple

My favorite primary song when I was little was “I Love to See the Temple.” I remember sitting in the little plastic chairs in primary and putting my whole heart into singing the words: “I love to see the temple. I’m going there someday, to feel the Holy Spirit, to listen and to pray. For the temple is a house of God, a place of love and beauty. I’ll prepare myself while I am young; this is my sacred duty.” Whenever I would see pictures of the temple or drive past it, the words of this song would play in my mind, and I had no doubt that’s where I wanted to be. As a little girl, I knew I would do whatever it would take to be prepared to enter that holy place.

Now as a young woman, I have entered behind those temple doors to do baptisms for those on the other side. I have felt the Spirit testify to me that the work being done there was right. I know that each person I help is progressing, but I can see that I’m also moving forward, learning, and feeling the wonderful joy that comes with service.

This summer, I had the opportunity to do the work for my family members. I felt something drawing me to the family history center, and I knew that my family on the other side was waiting for me and wanting me to help them progress. I felt a connection with them, and I knew I couldn’t feel right about myself until I did everything in my ability to help them. I prayed for guidance and help to know what to do and how to go about getting their work ready. Then everything just fell into place. I was blessed with people at the family history center who knew how to help me. I learned how to use programs to help me find important information. I was given direction to the right places and people I needed to finish the work. I was given the health and strength to be able to finish searching and get the names temple-ready. After each trip to the family history center, I would come home completely drained of energy and starting to hurt. But even so, I was full of life and incomprehensible joy. I came home with a sense of accomplishment, and the knowledge that I was doing the right thing. My prayers were filled with gratitude for the peace and knowledge I was gaining. It felt so wonderful!

When I had the temple-ready cards prepared, the Spirit filled my heart with joy. Finally I would be able to help those relatives on the other side who so desperately wanted to move on! In the temple, while we were performing the work, I felt their gratitude. I imagined their faces filled with excitement and happiness – exactly how I had felt at the time of my baptism and confirmation – and it was then that I realized how important the temple is. It is the one essential key that binds earth and heaven. It is so vital for our salvation! It brings us closer to God. I realized that day that I need the temple in my life; it is like water – I cannot live without it. This experience has made me recognize how imperative it is for me to be prepared to go to the temple, and to go often. And, just like my primary days, I can stand and declare boldly, “The temple is a house of God. A place of love and beauty. I’ll still prepare myself while I am young; it truly is my sacred duty.”