Each morning I study the scriptures. I'm not very good at it, but I'm getting better. And much of that progress is due to my habits during the past year. Instead of just reading from the scriptures (and often not really understanding what's going on, or having my mind wander and think about other things) for the past year I've been reading from the scriptures and then studying from the LDS Institute manual that corresponds with the lessons on The Book of Mormon.
I can tell you that the past year has been a different experience for me in studying the scriptures. And all of those differences have been for the better. The quotes and questions in the institute manual focus my study and my thoughts. I understand the life and times of those I'm reading about better. I understand doctrine more personally. And instead of spending my time thinking about how those around me might benefit from and improve by the things I learn, I have been looking more inwardly. I think more on my own faults and weaknesses. I recognize my shortcomings. And when I'm able to do that and humble myself, I learn so much more. And I think that slow, slowly, I am learning how to become a little better, a little more like Christ.
But of course I'm still not perfect. My failures are frequent and my shortcomings are many. I still have so much more to learn and become.
But in my study today I read something that touched my heart. And, for whatever reason, it made me think of blogs. So I thought I'd share it with you here. The quote is from Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (And if you'd like to read the entire talk that this passage comes from you can see it HERE.)
This is the passage I read in the institute manual that touched me today:
It has been said that envy is the one sin to which no one readily confesses, but just how widespread that tendency can be is suggested in the old Danish proverb, “If envy were a fever, all the world would be ill.”... As others seem to grow larger in our sight, we think we must therefore be smaller. So, unfortunately, we occasionally act that way.It's easy, isn't it? To be envious of others? I am sad to say, I do it all the time. But I think that it is even easier to be envious through blogs. In a medium when one can pick and choose which parts of themselves to show, it is easy to see only the good and beautiful in the lives of others. And while those are wonderful things to see in those around us, it is important to keep things in perspective.
How does this happen, especially when we wish so much that it would not? I think one of the reasons is that every day we see allurements of one kind or another that tell us what we have is not enough. Someone or something is forever telling us we need to be more handsome or more wealthy, more applauded or more admired than we see ourselves as being. We are told we haven’t collected enough possessions or gone to enough fun places. We are bombarded with the message that on the world’s scale of things we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting....
But God does not work this way....
...I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone, 14 “robes … made … white in the blood of the Lamb.” 15 May we encourage each other in our effort to win that prize.
Anyone who has ever tried to take a decent photograph knows the old trick. Clutter in the background? Move it aside! Of course it's still there, but nobody will see it if it's not in the picture!
To any who have ever felt that they are less or that some aspect of their lives is less because they see someone who seemingly "has it all together," I hope you'll remember that every single person in the world has a mess just beyond the edges of the picture you see of their lives. And that's certainly not to say that everyone has a sad or hopeless life. It's just to say that we are all, in many ways, living similar lives filled day-to-day ups and downs.
Each of us lives a real life with real pain, but also real joy. I love the way Elder Holland puts it. "...The race is against sin, not against each other." I feel so blessed and so grateful in my life for all of the love and support I feel. Though my life is full of little messes hiding just outside the edge of the camera, it is also filled by countless blessings and the immense love of those who support me. I rejoice in that. And, with Elder Holland, I share my hope that we will all encourage each other in the race of our daily lives.
There is so much good to be had. That we might share it with each other is my greatest wish.