"I Have Faith in America"

Here is a moving quote from a prophet of God about the destiny of the United States of America:

“Men may fail in this country, earthquakes may come, seas may heave beyond their bounds, there may be great drought, disaster, and hardship, but this nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail.

“This is the cradle of humanity, where life on this earth began in the Garden of Eden. This is the place of the new Jerusalem. This is the place that the Lord said is favored above all other nations in all the world. This is the place where the Savior will come to His temple. This is the favored land in all the world. Yes, I repeat, men may fail, but this nation won’t fail.

“I have faith in America; you and I must have faith in America, if we understand the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“We are living in a day when we must pay heed to these challenges. I plead with you not to preach pessimism. Preach that this is the greatest country in all the world. This is the favored land. This is the land of our forefathers. It is the nation that will stand despite whatever trials or crises it may yet have to pass through.”

—Harold B. Lee, Ye Are the Light of the World, 350-51

Journal Writing

I wrote in my journal this morning. I wrote two pages about my day yesterday. I always feel better after I’ve written in my journal.

I started keeping a journal on April 20, 1976 when I was 18 years old. I had gone to general conference earlier that month and attended several sessions in person in the Tabernacle. I heard President Spencer W. Kimball ask members of the Church to keep a journal at that conference. I started writing a couple weeks after getting home. Since then, I’ve written 6,619 pages—as of this morning—in 39 volumes.

How did that happen?

I am not really sure how or why it happened, how I’ve kept it up over the last 33 years. Journal writing became a habit early in my life, and I’ve never shaken it. I like to write, so it has come easy to me. Actually, when I first started, I can’t say that I liked to write, but with practice, it came easier to me over time. I stuck with it, and it stuck with me.

One of the nice things is I can look up dates over the last three decades and find out what I was doing. The best thing about keeping a journal to me, however, is that I’ve been able to express there the full range of my experience and emotions, untangle them and sort them out. I’ve had to rip a number of pages out of my journals over the years. Those pages were valuable, too, even though they will never see the light of day. I think the value to me has been in the writing, not so much in what was written.

Are you keeping a journal? I’m sure a lot of you are. But you are probably discouraged about infrequent entries or getting caught up when you get behind. There are so many things you wish you had written about your children and your travels and your spiritual journey, that it is easier just to leave your journal buried in a nightstand drawer.

I suggest a different approach. Always start from where you are. Don’t try to go back to where you were and start from there. Start from now. Don’t wait for the perfect conditions. What did you do today? What is happening inside of you this moment? Is your faith waxing or waning? Are you disappointed or delirious with excitement? What has the Spirit said to you today? Start today to get it down. A list of bullet points is better than a blank page.

Just forgive yourself and start over. Don’t require perfection out of yourself. Just do as Ernest Hemingway once suggested. “Write one true sentence.” That’s all you have to do. After you write one true sentence, it will get easier to write the next one, and the next one.

Give yourself permission to be imperfect, and you’ll start getting a whole lot more done.

I doubt you are more keenly aware of your own failings and imperfections than I am of mine, but I just keep going and just keep writing. You can, too. Don’t let guilt keep you from doing the right thing.

P.S. I know some of you are saying, “I can’t write.” That isn’t true. You can write. In fact, you have a promise in the scriptures that you can write. “It was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration.” (Moses 6:5-6.) The promise is that if you call upon God, you will be inspired to know what to write and how to write it. Pray before you write. Test the promise. He will not let you down.

A Psalm for the Wounded in Heart

“…O God the Lord, for thy name’s sake—because thy mercy is good—deliver thou me.

“For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.

“My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth…

“I became also a reproach unto them: When they looked upon me, they shaked their heads.

“Help me, O Lord my God. O save me according to thy mercy.

“That they may know that this is thy hand—that thou, Lord, hast done it.

“I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude.

“For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul.”

—Psalms 109:20–31

The Rattlesnake Bite

As one of our ward goals for the year is understanding repentance, I took notice of an article that my wife recently found, “Removing the Poison of an Unforgiving Spirit” by H. Burke Peterson (Ensign, Nov. 1983, 59). In the article, Bishop Peterson talks about the feelings we have all carried at one time or another:

“There are many today who harbor in the deep recesses of their hearts a canker, a hurt, a feeling of resentment, a dislike, or in some cases even a hate because of unpleasant experiences with past and present associations. Some have been taken advantage of in a business sense. Others have had their feelings hurt by neighbors, or relatives, or friends. A few have been lied to or had a trust of long standing betrayed. Some children, young and now grown, have been offended by harsh or dictatorial parents. Husbands and wives may have deep schisms between them caused by criticism and a resulting resentment. The list of sad experiences goes on and on—yes, it is too long.”

Then he tells of a group of teenagers who were picnicking outside of Phoenix in the desert and one of the girls in the group was bitten by a rattlesnake. After she was bitten, the others in the group, rather than starting to remove the venom from the wound, chased the snake for 15 or 20 minutes until they found it and took revenge by killing it. The girl had to go to the emergency room, and within a few days, her limb was destroyed by the venom and she had to have her leg amputated—all of which could have been avoided if those young friends tended the wound rather than following to their impulse for retribution.

Bishop Peterson concludes his talk with this advice:

“Now, brothers and sisters, let us go to our homes and dismiss from our beings—and purge from our souls—the venom of any feeling of ill will or bitterness toward anyone. Let us strike from our hearts the unwillingness to forgive and forget; and, instead, approach men in the spirit of the Master, even those who ‘despitefully use you.’ (Matt. 5:44.) Let us pray—rather, let us plead for the spirit of forgiveness. Let us look for the good in each other—not the flaws. The Master knew men’s lives would be changed more quickly and more surely by love than by criticism. In 1 John 4:19 we read: ‘We love him, because he first loved us.'”

May God give us all the strength to follow this sound and healing advice.

Stake Conference Notes

I feel blessed to have been able to attend three sessions of our stake conference this past weekend. Elder Steven J. Lund of the Seventy was our visiting authority. I took notes, and here are a few of the quotes that had an impact on me.

“The oath and covenant of the priesthood combines heavenly power with mankind’s greatest desires. It functions by the Lord’s own hand.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, quoted by Elder Lund

“If the family is broken, then the transmission of values is broken.” -Elder Lund

“Never let go of a criticism until it blesses us.” -Jay D. Clark

“Don’t worry about what you’ll do; worry about who you are.” -Ronald A. Rasband, quoted by Elder Lund

“If your focus is the temple, tithing takes care of itself.” -Elder Lund

“Those who teach know how to teach.” -Neil Pitts

“We don’t take animals to the temple temple today; we take a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” -Merrill J. Bateman

“If you don’t act on a prompting, the will of the Lord will go undone.” -Elder Lund