Tuesday, December 21, 2021

“Learning and studying out of the best books will help us overcome our challenges”

“Learning and studying out of the best books will help us overcome our challenges”
Darrel L. Hammon
December 2021

In the Doctrine and Covenants 88:118, the Lord taught….”teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seeking learning, even by study and also by faith” (see also Doctrine and Covenants 90:15).

On Monday morning, I was reading and studying from my most favorite book, the Book of Mormon. I was re-reading the informative letters between Captain Moroni, the Chief Captain over all the armies; and Pahoran, the Chief Judge and Governor of the land. Moroni was direct and to the point. This was a time of great war and internal turmoil between the Lamanites and the Nephites. Not only were these two great leaders fighting the Lamanites, but they were also trying to combat the internal political strife caused by the King-men.

As I read these two letters again, I thought to myself, “What am I supposed to learn from this to help me today?” It came to me: What Moroni and Pahoran were attempting to do was to deliver themselves from some very bad political and war situations. In fact, it was so grievous that the armies were suffering, Pahoran had been ousted from the Capitol, and the Lamanites were destroying everything around them.

While our own personal situation may not be as extreme as they were suffering, people around the world are experiencing exactly those things. The pandemic has created such havoc, some perceived, some conjured up, but mostly real.

After reading and studying these two letters that were preserved for our time, I knew exactly why Mormon inserted them into “the most correct book.” They were written to help us break out of slumps or very bad situations, especially those in which we currently find ourselves.

The following are concepts/principles that I learned:

We must be obedient to the commandments of God and adhere to the His word.
Being obedient to God’s commandments was my number one takeaway. For those who have read this passage and others understand that disobedience to God’s commandments creates so many issues. When we blatantly disobey the commandments, God’s blessings may not come as readily as they need to come. Early on in the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Lehi says to his family, “…Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandment, ye shall prosper in the land” (1 Nephi 2:20), and this promise is repeated several time throughout the book.

We must not be slothful in our actions and daily doings.
When I read this passage, I could not help but think of the movie Zootopia and the incredible funny scene with the sloth at the DMV. I have now seen it many times and still laugh aloud. Slothful means lazy, indolent. Some of us have not cleaned our houses or apartments since the pandemic emerged from its dark abyss. Some have even failed to wash or even change their clothes. Really? Of course, many people were a bit slothful even before the pandemic, and now the pandemic has become the reason de jour for everyone’s slothfulness—and pretty much any other challenge. Being slothful does not really become us.

We must not forget all the wonderful things that we have received like blessings and overcoming other challenges.
Oh, the challenges of forgetfulness and not remembering. And it isn’t just the mature people of the world who experience this challenge. During challenging times, we “forget” about the good times, the blessings, and the miracles that have occurred in our lives. They simply slide out of vision when bad things begin to happen to us, many of them during burdensome times. It is imperative during these challenging times that we remember the good that has happened in our lives, the times we were blessed, especially during the dark times in our lives.

We must not sit in idleness.
During the pandemic, many of us were cloistered at home, some of us did not have a job, and others just sat around home doing nothing, even though so many tasks needed to be done. Moroni called this “idleness.” In essence, idleness is doing nothing when something ought to be done. The term “hanging out” comes to my mind. So many people have said to me when I have asked, “What have you been doing these days?” “Oh,” they say, “just hanging out.” I want to say, “What are you accomplishing?” The answer would probably be “nothing,” “nada.” I am not saying that hanging out is all bad. Sometimes, we need some downtime. But not all day or all week or for several weeks.

We must be up and doing and bestir ourselves.
I love this phrase Captain Moroni used, “Be up and doing.” That is diametrical opposed to idleness.” “Bestir” means “make physical and mental effort; exert or rouse oneself” (See Google search for “bestir” meaning in English). It is reminiscent of “be up and doing.” Some people have said to me, “Ah, I just cannot motivate myself.” Ironically, when we are up and doing good things or doing that project that has needed to be done for ages motivates us, propels us forward. Most good things occur because we “rouse ourselves” to do something. We have alarms on our phones to “rouse” us to do something at a particular time. Others have someone call them to help them remember. We can make a mental effort to do something, but it is the actual physical getting up and doing by our personal bestirring ourselves. We must remember how powerful our choices can be.

We must clean the inward vessel
What is the “inward vessel”? It is that which is inside of us. It is the core from which all transpires. We can read all the self-help books we want. We can watch or listen to all of the positivity podcasts there are. We can even listen to people all day who tell us to rise up and do more. But what must happen first is that cleansing from within us, the rooting out of the negativity and the “bad vibes” that doth beset us. Yes, it will take some doing and help along the way. The ultimate and most important choice is ours, ours alone, to get us going.

We must show a true spirit of freedom.
Freedom is not just a political thing. We sometimes hold ourselves hostage from our inability to choose, our inactions, our slothful ways of not doing anything. Our addictions hold us hostages. Our negative thoughts hold us hostage. Anything that causes us to do not move forward and accomplish our goals holds us hostage. We are free when we allow ourselves to move forward, onward and upward.

We must have exceeding faith and patience in our tribulations.
This is definitely a challenging one. Tribulations, burdens, and challenges in our lives somehow put us in a vulnerable state and cause us anxiety. We feel helpless and do not know what to do. Having faith that these challenges will pass is important. Mormon describes this important choice: “The Lord did strengthen that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience” (Mosiah 24:15). I cannot tell you how many I have read this passage and others like it when tribulations and challenges came gushing over me like waves in an ocean. It has always given me comfort and the will—yes, the faith—to “submit cheerfully.”

We must rejoice in the greatness of hearts of those around us.
I do not know about you, but we have had so many people in our circle of influence and people we do not know who have posted positive things, sent us notes and texts and even letters, pulled us aside and talked to us. Many have brought us goodies and treats. These things have cheered us up and propelled us to do the same. People around us make an enormous difference, and we must rejoice with them because of the greatness of their hearts and their efforts to make things better.

We must put our trust in God.

I love to trust in God. He has helped us, blessed us, motivated us, and loved us in so many ways throughout our lives. We know He loves us. We are His children. He wants us to succeed and wants to help us. Often, though, He has to nudge us in ways that help us re-align ourselves with Him and His plan for us. We call it the “covenant path.” He has given us the way to follow. That is what we have to do. If we love Him, we must trust Him and do what He has asked us to do. When we put our trust in Him, He will gently guide us in the right way.

We must resist evil.
There is so much evil in the world today. I dislike watching the news and seeing what people do to other people, the rampant drug—legal and illegal—use, the shameless proliferation of pornography and all its ills, the increase in bullying and fraud, the persistent and careless taking of lives for whatever reason, the degradation of families and the roles of parents in families, the disrespect of people’s property, the stealing of anything that is not tied down, the ongoing destructive behavior and actions, and a host of other insidious evils that ravage the earth. This. All. Must. Stop! If not, we will have to bear the burdens of more tribulations, challenges, destruction, and plagues.

We must counsel with others and make a plan to overcome the challenges.
Doing anything alone is often taxing. Moroni and Pahoran were at odds with each other, but they counseled together and decided the best course of action, which proved successful in the end. We, too, must counsel with our spouses, our families, our clergy, or someone whom we trust. Develop a plan together to drag yourself out of destructive situations, self-induced slothfulness, and other challenges. Making and completing worthwhile and change-oriented goals are still in vogue. If there is something in your life that does not allow you to progress and grow and develop into someone you want to be or need to be, then ask for help to accomplish those tasks. There are lots of us all out there who are here to help.

We must not judge others.
One of the most important principles that I learned from reading these two Book of Mormon letters was not judging others. Our society is so inclined to judge others, whether we know them or not. Social media promulgates this type of judgement. People post things, say things, write things that are not true or have trappings of truthfulness but are lies that somehow people believe. We judge people by how they look, what clothes they wear, how many posts they have, where they live, how much money they make, and the color of their skin. Christ was very specific when He taught, “Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall by judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measure to you again” (3 Nephi 14:1-2; Matthew 7:1-2). Jesus Christ Himself declared, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).

Reading and studying good books will always help us find truth. Of course, finding truth is important, but implementing it in appropriate ways is even better. Moroni’s and Pahoran’s letters helped me understand what I need to do in challenging times. These letters propel me to be better, do better, and become a better person than I have been—whether in calm times or challenging times.

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