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What does it mean to live a life of love? Our capacity to give and receive love is a hallmark of discipleship, and evidence of our deepest desires and our understanding of God's plan for us.
Love helps us see ourselves as God sees us. Love enables us to bless others as we reach past our own concerns. Love provides opportunities to heal, to hope, and to have faith - even when dreams have to wait and the challenges of life weigh us down.
When we are filled with love, we can make a profound difference in our own lives, in our homes and circles of influence, and in the world in which we live. Love makes it possible for us to do what we came to do.
About the Author
Ardeth Greene Kapp, author and lecturer, served as general president of the Church’s Young Women organization from 1984 to 1992. She served with her husband, Heber B. Kapp, as he presided over the Canada Vancouver Mission from 1992 to 1995, and later they were president and matron of the Cardston Alberta Temple. Ardeth holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and a master’s in curriculum development from Brigham Young University. She has been a member of the Church Curriculum Planning Committee, as well as a board member of the Church Educational System, Deseret Book Company, the Deseret News Publishing Company, and the board of trustees for Southern Virginia University. A native of Glenwood, Alberta, Canada, Ardeth is the author of numerous books, including Better Than You Think You Are.
Look Inside Yourself
I once asked a young girl who was visiting me, “Are you the smartest one in your fourth-grade class?” She quickly responded in a positive tone, “No, I’m second smartest, but Jimmy is the last smartest.” There was no question in her young mind where she stood.
I suppose each one of us has had experiences when we have felt like the second smartest. And we’ve probably also had times when we’ve felt like we were the last smartest. This affects our confidence and our ability to show love. The adversary would, if possible, have us believe we are way below average. But maybe it really doesn’t matter if we are the last smartest, whether in the fourth-grade class or in any other category. Maybe the things that matter come from deeper within.
In the novel The Chosen, by Chaim Potok, the Jewish father cries out to the Master of the Universe in behalf of his son, who has a brilliant and capable mind. The father says, “A mind like this I need for a son? A heart I need for a son, a soul I need for a son, compassion I want from my son, righteousness, mercy, strength to suffer and carry pain, that I want from my son, not a mind without a soul!” (264; emphasis in original). Speaking of his own father, he says, “He taught me to look inside myself, to find my own strength, to walk around inside myself in company with my soul” (265). I imagine that his father probably said to him, “Son, it is within you. Look inside.”
At times we each may ponder the question, “Is it within me?” Our Father invites us to ask ourselves this and then listen to the whisperings of the Spirit for a confirmation. The Lord said, “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), and “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
But there is a storm at sea. It’s no ordinary storm. The world is in chaos. Dark clouds can dim our view of all that is important, causing us to doubt our abilities and question our resolve. Many are being tossed to and fro for want of an ethical compass.
The hymn “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me” (Hymns, no. 104) offers the following insight:
Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal.
Chart and compass came from thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
Yes, the chart and compass come from Him. In times of turbulence, we can be assured that the Master who calmed the storms on the Sea of Galilee can calm the storms in our personal and individual lives because He knows us and He knows the storm. He tells us, “Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36).
Years ago Elder Oscar A. Kirkham, a great Church leader, spoke of three principles that have been like anchors for me. He simply said, “Build a sea-worthy ship, be a loyal shipmate, and sail a true course.”
When the storms are at their peak in your life and the wind is blowing, is your ship seaworthy? Will you be a loyal shipmate, even when others may be abandoning ship and going in a direction that appears appealing, enticing, inviting, and, by the world’s standards, glamorous? Is it within you to set sail against the wind and follow a true course?
The words of Job provide a measurement for our commitment to our highest priorities. At the very height of his seemingly unreasonable, unexplainable, unfair tests, he declared, “Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me” (Job 27:5).
Integrity is the key to sailing a true course. If we have integrity, we will make our actions consistent with our knowledge of right and wrong. By contrast, if we know one thing and do another, our behavior creates an inner conflict and makes it impossible to feel at peace. We simply cannot think one way and act another. We must have integrity if we are to have peace within and feel God’s love.
I would like to suggest three Ps that are essential to finding peace within: Ponder, Pray, and Prune. These can become life savers in turbulent storms.
It is impossible to measure the benefits of thoughtful pondering, meditating, and listening—away from the turbulence of the world—where the Spirit can speak to us and where we can listen and hear.
Consider the experience of Nephi when he said, “I sat pondering” (1 Nephi 11:1). How long has it been since you’ve sat pondering, when the TV wasn’t on and you weren’t monitoring your cell phone? Is there ever a time like that? There was a time when Nephi sat pondering, and as he did, the Spirit said unto him, “What desirest thou?” (1 Nephi 11:2). And he knew what he desired. He was ready to answer.
Now, if the Spirit said to you or me, “What desirest thou?” would we have a long inventory of a hundred things we want? Of course we would. We’re mortal, we’re normal, and yes, we have a lot of desires.
But when we sit thoughtfully pondering in a quiet place and the Spirit speaks to us, there will come into our hearts and souls the things that are truly our greatest desires, those things that are more important in the long run than anything else. Away from the appeal of the world, that greatest desire usually relates to relationships with family and with the Lord. And when that priority is in place, then we begin to plan our lives with purpose. We begin to have goals that cause us to live with anticipation.
When we take time to thoughtfully ponder, we will be filled with the Spirit within. We know what we are working for and living for. We know what we want to have happen. Then, with each large or small decision we make, we draw upon the greatest of all blessings—that of personal revelation and agency. We ask ourselves, “Will this decision move me toward or away from my deepest desire, my ultimate goal?” This question is a protection against giving up what we want most for what we want now. It helps ensure that lifetime goals are never sacrificed for instant gratification.
From a lifetime of experience, I can tell you of the sure knowledge I have of the power of prayer. We have a direct line of communication with our Father in Heaven. When we get up in the morning, we can kneel in prayer and ask for the Spirit of God to be with us all day. At night, before we end the day, we can review our actions of the day and give thanks for any direction given by the promptings of the Spirit. We can ask forgiveness for the times when we may have not measured up. We are able to repent and ask for help every day.
President Boyd K. Packer said, “If you need a transfusion of spiritual strength, then just ask for it. We call that prayer. Prayer is powerful spiritual medicine” (“Balm of Gilead,” 18). Is it any wonder that we’re warned that we must “watch and pray always lest [we] enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have [us], that he may sift [us] as wheat” (3 Nephi 18:18).
How important is prayer? In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord counseled, “Pray always lest that wicked one have power in you, and remove you out of your place” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:49).
We ponder, we pray, and then, directed by the Spirit, we prune.
The adversary would, if possible, like to keep us busily engaged in a multitude of things—even good things—that would distract us from the few things that make all the difference. Pruning may require cutting back, eliminating, and discarding distractions. These may not necessarily be bad things. More likely, we will find that it is some of the nonessential distractions that can weigh us down. Like the early pioneers, who had to decide what they would make room for in their wagons and what they were willing to leave behind in order to reach their destination, we have decisions to make that may not be easy. Regardless of the standards of the world, the early pioneers had to make choices according to what they knew was essential to realize their most earnest desires. Pruning takes careful thought concerning what we really want to have happen after all is said and done.
Ponder. Pray. Prune. You have it within you to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, not perfect yet, but on the way. You have it within your heart and soul. Can you feel it now? Do you know in your heart, through the witness of the Spirit, that it is within you to be everything that you’ve been destined to be? Keep that fire burning.
by Mary - reviewed on January 23, 2013
This book has become my new favorite re-read. I keep it close by for moments of needed uplifting and fabulous quotes. Ardeth teaches with such a beautiful simplicity that this book easily finds its way into your heart, providing warm inspiration.
by April - reviewed on March 06, 2012
I purchased this book while feeling down and needing a boost. I enjoyed each story Ardeth told and how she finds learning and loving experiences in everyday life. At the end of each section are statements to Ponder, Ask yourself and statements to Act upon, to help the reader incorporate the teaching principles into their lives. By loving others, we learn to love ourselves.
by Melinda - reviewed on March 05, 2012
I love this book! It is written so beautifully and it is fun to read. It really gives one a boost up! The "Ponder, Ask, Act" after each chapter encourages you to be pro-active not just let the ideas sink in... but then to act upon them. Thank you for lighting a fire in me.