Life Lessons, Spiritual

Integrity

I was flipping through my Personal Progress book on Sunday, and a particular “experience” (Integrity #3) really stuck out to me. I don’t know why, exactly. Usually, I think, “yeah, that one should be easy enough right now.” or “um, I should probably work on that one.” or something to that effect. But they don’t usually hit a chord. This one did. So I’ve been working on it this morning. Instead of writing it down in my journal, the thought came to me that I should put it on the blog. It says share your experience, so I guess this is a good way to share it.

The funny thing is, when the instructions said to think about a time that I showed integrity and it was not easy or popular, a story instantly came to mind. An incident that was close to 20 years ago. I don’t know what recalled that particular instant, but it hasn’t left me since.

I was in 8th grade. We had this really boring text book in my Leadership class. The whole class hated it. One day, the teacher stepped out of the room, probably to go make copies or something. The entire class hid their textbooks. The teacher was pretty flabbergasted when she came back in. I don’t know what made her do it, but she looked right at me and said, “Keira, where are the books.” Althought I didn’t stand up and tell the kids no (they were reaaaallllly boring books), I couldn’t tell a  bold-face lie. So I caved and told her where they were. I thought for sure, the whole class would be mad at me, but actually no one was. Maybe because they knew I couldn’t like. I don’t know. But we didn’t have to use those books again. And the class didn’t really care. I don’t know why it’s so ingrained into my memory, but it is. I don’t remember a single other thing from that class, but I remember the time I didn’t lie.

Integrity Scrabble Brick

It’s no surprise that the first example the Young Women Personal Progress book gives is that of the Savior. Even when He realized exactly how hard it was to comply with the atonement, He did it. He suffered for our sins. If He hadn’t had integrity, there would be no plan.

Joseph showed integrity with Potiphar’s wife. To me, that’s not just showing integrity in the obvious way. Not committing adultery is a definite  commandment. But honoring the wishes of an employer and getting out of a potentially bad situation (as well as making a bad situation good without complaint) are also ways to show integrity.

Esther is one of my favorite examples of integrity. I don’t know if I’d have the courage to put my life on the line to stand up for others. I mean, I guess you’d just have to do it. I like that she fasts and prays before she does what she does. In this kind of situation, putting God at the central part of the plan, remembering that all things are possible through him, is the real example of integrity in Esther’s story.

Job never denied the Lord, when times got hard. I think that everyone has those moments when they wonder, with everything going on in their lives, if God loves them, if He really exists, and if He can help. But at the end of it, if you’ve kept the faith, kept believing, then you can show integrity, too. Just like Job.

Daniel didn’t stop praying. God’s commandments are greater than man’s.

Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were willing to die for their faith, but to me the true sign of integrity is something I heard in a conference talk once. I’ve never been able to find it since. In the talk the speaker said once that Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were great examples of the “But If Not” principle. Not only do they stand up for their beliefs, knowing that Christ CAN save them, they know that doesn’t mean Christ WILL save them. The true act of faith, and integrity, is remembering that God’s ways are better than our own plans. They know that they can be saved, but if they are not saved, they know that they will be with their Savior. “But if Not.” Integrity is trusting God. Submitting to His will.

Hyrum showed integrity for delighting in truth and finding what is right.

Paul showed integrity for changing his ways when he knew better. For adimitting he was wrong. That’s a big one!

Joseph Smith showed integrity by never denying what he had seen. “I knew it and I knew that God knew it.” How easy it would have been for him to just give into the world, “yeah, guys, you caught me.” But just because something is easy with Man doesn’t mean its easy with God. Giving into what the world wanted him to do would have eternal repercussions. It would NOT have been worth it. Easy and worth it are definitely not the same thing.

Life Lessons, Spiritual

He’s my Prophet

New photo by Keira / Google Photos

In case you didn’t hear, my Church called a new President. We really believe that God has given us a new prophet after the death of President Thomas S. Monson. It wasn’t any surprise to us that it is now President Russel M. Nelson as the prophet of God. A friend summed it up nicely when he said, “Only in the Mormon church would they replace a 90-year-old man with a 93-year-old man!” But unlike a popularity contest or a democratic vote, there’s a system set up as to whom our next prophet will be. There’s still room for change in that system, but I highly doubt we’ll ever see it deviate. Our church is quite proud of being a “house of order.”

I’m sure everyone has or will have their own experience about our new Prophet and that he is called from God (if not, I invite you to), but I wanted to write my own witness down in a place I would easily come back to and re-read. There was both a special virtual meeting for the members and a press conference to announce who would be our new Prophet/President. I actually watched it 15 minutes behind everyone else because I didn’t keep track of the time (I wish that wasn’t as common as it is. Just glad watching it right behind everyone was even possible). The whole member portion of the broadcast was fine, not really a surprise, but still interesting. It was nice hearing each of the called First Presidency address us. Elder Oaks has always been a powerhouse, and Elder Eyering is my daughter’s favorite. I loved President Uchdorf, too – who is now back in the quorum of the 12, just like when we rearrange a Young Women Presidency – but it seemed like he was everyone’s favorite and was utilized a LOT, so I’m excited to see a change. He will do well in his new assignment. As far as my previous feelings toward President Nelson: He trained the man who saved my grandfather’s life, so there’s that. But that’s not a testimony. That’s knowing he’s a world-renown surgeon and a pioneer in his field.

At the broadcast their messages to the members were all nice. I’m happy that Elder Oaks (President Oaks) let us all know that even though President Nelson is old, he’s still in excellent health and very active. Once again, he’s 93!

Then, there was a news conference where they took a few questions. It was such a juxtaposition to see the things interesting to the Saints and the things interesting to the news media. They wanted to know if his opinion was any different than the previous prophet. Members of the Church were not surprised to be reminded that it’s not President Nelson’s opinion that matters. It’s God’s opinion. Which is the same with President Nelson as it was for President Monson. I loved watching President Nelson put people first over and over in his answers. He talked about how he knew the newscasters before he ever answered their questions. Sometimes he’d even forget the questions. Knowing and Loving the people is important to him. President Monson always said, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” President Nelson exemplified this during the press conference.

One of the questions (an early question. No surprise. It’s what the Media has focused on) asked how President Nelson felt about LGBTQ agendas. When President Nelson’s response was that they are children of God and paused to let that soak in, my heart soared. I was thinking to myself, “of course that’s the question. But the answer wont change because it’s not his answer, it’s Gods.” And then hearing a reminder that everyone is a child of God… That is all it took for my testimony to find it’s roots. Not only did President Nelson zoom the focus back out to everyone – everyone is a child of God – but isn’t that always the answer? So many problems become minuscule when you remember that the person in question is important to Heavenly Father. The thing about testimonies is that it’s not just about the logical.  My testimony of the newest prophet of God isn’t just coming from my head. That’s the amazing thing about testimonies. Once the roots settle, your whole body, mind, and soul just … know. I know that President Nelson is a prophet of our church, my church. I know that he was called of God. He’s not just some old guy giving old-world advice. He is our Prophet. He is called of God. I look forward to a continued re-training of my thoughts as I hear his messages at conference. Thinking of him as more than a surgeon, but as the man that God has called to lead his church. He is just what God can use right now. He’s clear and concise and simple.

But mostly, He’s my Prophet.