These are notes for the talk that I gave in sacrament on October 13, 2013. It was based off of a talk that inspired me at Conference this year. My friend encouraged me to share them, so here they are.
THE STRENGTH TO ENDURE- ELDER RICHARD J. MAYNES from the Sunday Morning Session
“Our ability to endure to the end in righteousness will be in direct proportion to the strength of our testimony and the depth of our conversion.”
- This talk really spoke to me because I’ve felt the burdens of life stronger than ever lately
- It really forced me to inquire within and ask “Am I strong enough to endure it all? Am I doing what it takes to build up the strength needed to endure these hard times?”
“Every morning when we wake up, we face a new day filled with the challenges of life. These challenges come in many forms: physical challenges, financial setbacks, difficulties with relationships, emotional trials, and even struggles with one’s faith. Many of the challenges we face in life can be solved and overcome; however, others may be difficult to understand and impossible to overcome and will be with us until we pass on to the next life. As we temporarily endure the challenges we can solve and as we continue to endure the challenges we cannot solve, it is important to remember that the spiritual strength we develop will help us successfully endure all the challenges we face in life.”
“Our ability to endure to the end in righteousness will be in direct proportion to the strength of our testimony and the depth of our conversion. When our testimonies are strong and we are truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, our choices will be inspired by the Holy Ghost, they will be Christ-centered, and they will support our desire to endure in righteousness. If our testimonies are weak and our conversion superficial, the risk is much greater that we will be enticed by the false traditions of the world to make poor choices.”
- It is a simple equation- not easy, but simple. Reading thi really motivated me to inquire within. If I know what will help me survive my trials, why would I not actually do those things? If you were going out of the country into foreign lands and were told that you would get terribly ill unless you got the right vaccines, etc. wouldn’t you take them? Or if someone told you the one thing you would need on a private island to survive, wouldn’t you pack it?
“A testimony, like your body, needs to be in shape if you want it to endure. So how do we keep our testimonies in shape?”
-Some ways Elder Maynes suggests:
1. “We need to study and learn the fundamental principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then we must do our very best to live them.”
2. “Being spiritually prepared means we have developed spiritual stamina or strength—we will be in good shape spiritually.” As an anonymous author once said, “You must become the rock the river cannot wash away.”
- I loved that visual SO much. Becoming that rock is an individual pursuit. You cannot be strong on your own if you are dependent on other’s spirituality.
- Being the youngest in my family I always had older siblings to look up to, and when I was in college I had ten roommates who had awesome spiritual habits and I leaned on them to keep me strong. But being the woman of the household and a co-spiritual leader in our home I have felt the weight of responsibility to be strong on my own so I can uplift my family. It’s been a soul-searching process the last 5 years and I’m still learning and focusing on becoming spiritually stronger and being consistent in good habits.
3. “Because we face challenges every day, it is important that we work on our spiritual stamina every day.” When we develop spiritual stamina, the false traditions of the world, as well as our personal daily challenges, will have little negative impact on our ability to endure in righteousness.”
-He brings his talk full circle as he sets up the following analogy:
“The Apostle Paul stated, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”5 The race that is set before us on this earth is an endurance race filled with obstacles. The obstacles in this race are the challenges we wake up to each morning. We are here on earth to run the race, to exercise our moral agency, and to choose between right and wrong. In order to honorably and successfully finish the race and return to our Heavenly Father, we will need to pay the price of dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline. We need to get into spiritual shape. We need to develop spiritual stamina. We need strong testimonies that will lead to true conversion, and as a result we will find within ourselves the inner peace and strength needed to endure whatever challenges we may face.”
-He recalls the story of how he had to become physically fit enough to master a certain timed running course in order to play on the college basketball team. He states, “To play basketball successfully, you need to get into good shape. Being in good physical condition comes at a price, and that price is dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline. Spiritual endurance also comes at a price. It is the same price: dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline.”
-Having just run my first marathon the price of physical fitness is fresh in my mind and so this analogy of paying the price for spiritual fitness in order to run life’s race successfully really hit me hard
-I don’t know about you guys, but for me life is not getting any easier and so anything that makes life more bearable I am up for
-I am going to go into more detail regarding the cost of spiritual and physical fitness- dedication, perseverance and self-discipline and relate the tools I used to train for my marathon to how we can be spiritually fit.
- You have to be consistent and organized. You have to pick a time of day when you can run every day (having it be at the same time helps to create the habit.) Your body and mind need consistency to memorize schedules and routines. It is the same with spiritual habits whether its scriptures study, prayer, FHE, temple attendance, etc.
- Plan your weeks out so you have expectations of yourself. Don’t just plan the time you will read but decide what you will study so you can look forward to something.
- You have to keep a strict running regimen in order to build up the cardio endurance. Step upon step you get stronger. If you miss running days, you don’t stay in the same shape- you lose strength and power. You digress. It is the same spiritually. We learn line upon line, little by little God’s mysteries are unfolded to us. If we don’t do it every day, we forget those lessons, we are less in tune with the spirit and we have to rebuild ourselves each time we try to start a habit over again.
- A woman in my last ward said it perfectly: Consistency = Conversion. We can have a testimony of the gospel but in order to be completely converted we have to be consistent- every day- continually building on our knowledge.
- Definition: implies resolutely holding on and being unyielding in following a course of action. Commonly suggests activity maintained in spite of difficulties, discouragement or steadfast and long-continued application
- This is definitely necessary in running endurance races. A marathon is for sure a long-continued application…
- You basically have to do it when you don’t feel like doing it- there’s no justifying room. You stick like glue to your goals- be tenacious. There were plenty of times when running 18 miles did not sound like what I would like to do on a Saturday morning but I did it anyways. And there are lots of times when building spiritual habits that we have to do the same thing- do it when we don’t feel like it. I promise that when you push yourself to overcome that lack of motivation, it gets easier and more enjoyable and you feel amazing after. We have to persevere through those moments when we are tired and don’t feel we have the energy to build our spirits.
- If you are unmotivated to fight for your spirituality (I know I have been there) you must have forgotten the purpose of this life which is to become like our Savior. It’s not about school, work, friends, clothes, sports, etc. You must have lost the vision of happiness that God has for you. Or most unfortunately you must have forgotten that you are God’s sons and daughters and therefore have been born with what it takes to endure- you just have to cultivate those seeds of character by strengthening your spirit and becoming like Him
- Definition: training one-self usually for improvement
- Build slowly in your endeavors. If I were to have gotten really motivated about running and tried to run 26.2 miles without building up strength, I would for one get injured and for two be totally side swiped and unmotivated to continue running consistently because I burned myself out.
- Take it at your own pace. Whether it is 5 minutes or hours a day that you spend seeking out the spirit, your efforts are noticed and worthwhile. We all have to start somewhere to get somewhere. You can’t build off of nothing. Anywhere is good enough to start.
Some extra points on spiritual training
Include long runs– the purpose of long runs are to increase your strength and endurance to cover more mileage. If you never push yourself to run longer than you will always stay the same. Find time in your schedule weekly to push yourself and give more time to the Lord and do something extra- like going to the temple, reading the scriptures longer, serving, listening to conference talks, etc.
Visualize– Visualizing yourself crossing the finish line and being successful is vital to training. Imagining the finish line pushes you to continue. I invite you to do more spiritual visualizing. The other night I spent time looking at Gospel Art Pictures as well as a book of pictures about Christ appearing to the Nephites. It was amazing how much closer and real the stories became to me. I felt like I knew my savior more because I spent time dwelling on what he looks like, how I would reunite with him if I had been there. Read the scriptures out loud.
Gear up– Good gear helps you maximize your running performance. Get the spiritual gear you need to understand the gospel better. I know I need study help materials for me to understand the scriptures. Get what you need to be more proficient with your time.
The race is all about the individual– When running my marathon, I didn’t worry about comparing myself with others, even the old man running faster than me. We were all in this together! It’s about finishing the race, not how fast you run, or whether you run the whole time or take walking breaks, it’s about your individual effort. If you feel like you are giving it your all you should be proud of it.
The race is going to be hard– This medal I received does not mean so much to me because I had an easy time running a few miles or because it is huge. It means a lot because it is a symbol of me overcoming something incredibly challenging and difficult. I overcame, I now know I can. There were multiple times in the race when I felt pain, wanted to stop, etc. but I had to finish the race, I had to keep going. We are all going to have multiple times during our races here on earth when we are tired, feel weak and beaten. It’s ok to be weary, but don’t give up. Know, that by spiritually preparing yourself that you’ll have what it takes inside to muster up the courage and keep going. You will have what it takes to endure and accelerate to that finish line.
-Whether we feel spiritually strong or totally depleted, there is almost room to grow and it’s never too late to start.
“So whatever challenges you wake up to each morning, remember—with the spiritual strength you develop, coupled with the Lord’s help, at the end of the race you will be able to enjoy the confidence that the Apostle Paul expressed when he said:
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.”6”
-The other day we were at the park and Cora wanted help going down the slide. I was reaching up to help her but I couldn’t reach her and I need her to slide down a little on her own- to come to me. She just kept saying, “Help me, Help me.” But I couldn’t help her unless she came down to me first. It created a clear image of our Savior who has his arms reached out to help us through our trials but we can’t sit there crying “Help me. Help me.” We have to do. We have to show faith and come to Him. We must go out of our comfort zones, be brave and take the first steps
“I bear you my testimony and my witness of the reality of a loving Heavenly Father and His great and eternal plan of happiness, which has brought us to this earth at this time. May the Spirit of the Lord inspire us all to develop within ourselves the strength to endure. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
-I know that Heavenly Father loves us and that by sacrificing to gain spiritual strength we will be able to endure our trials here in this race we are running. We will be able to finish strong. We will know that through him, We can. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
Some points his message that I did not include but which were good:
- “We have a loving Heavenly Father who has designed our earthly existence so that we can individually learn the lessons we need to learn to qualify for eternal life in His presence.”
- The things we go through are meant for us. This gives me comfort knowing that I am not suffering or struggling in vain, but for a planned purpose.
- “Challenges we face, if successfully endured, will be for our ultimate good. This is the Lord’s response to Joseph’s petition”
- “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.”1
- “Heavenly Father has organized our journey through life to be a test of our character. We are exposed to both good and evil influences and then given the moral agency to choose for ourselves which path we will take. “
- “We need help in returning to His presence. The necessary help is provided through the teachings, example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice makes possible our future salvation and exaltation through the principle of repentance.”
- “ If we honestly and sincerely repent, the Atonement can help us become clean, change our nature, and successfully endure our challenges.”
- “Endurance is an important principle found within the doctrine of Jesus Christ. It is important because the quality of our eternal future is proportional to our ability to endure in righteousness.”
- I’ve seen people around me who have been strong but whom were not willing to endure the suffering caused by their trials and lost their testimonies
- “In 2 Nephi 31 the prophet Nephi teaches us that we must “press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, [and then] behold, thus saith the Father: [We] shall have eternal life.”3
- I loved what another ward member had to say about “press forward” in a sacrament talk a couple months ago. She said press forward implies resistance. I loved that so much. Sometimes we get caught up in the idea that the majority of life should be pretty easy and convenient and when its hard totally catches us off guard. But from the beginning the Lord knew we would spend the majority of our time struggling through different trials here on earth. It is by enduring well that we find happiness amongst our sorrows.
- A few examples: Being a mother is hard,emotionally trying work with a few moments of joy thrown in, I don’t get to spend that much time with my husband even though we are married, Life is full of responsibilities and I don’t get much time to relax
- I am more productive when I have a lot on my plate. When I have the most burdens I am pushed past my limits and grow
- When I have nothing to do, I am lazy and get bored. The Lord knows that by lets us struggle and be tried, that we will be better for it.
- If we are uncomfortable, we are growing. And that’s good.
- “Therefore, in order to receive the greatest of all the blessings of our Heavenly Father, which is eternal life, we must complete the appropriate ordinance work and then continue to keep the associated covenants. In other words, we must successfully endure.”
- I love that he implies that going through the temple will strength us. Receiving our endowments gives us the capability to conquer as long as we keep our covenants.