Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit

Hi hi! On November 29th, 2020, I spoke in my ward's sacrament meeting! Yay! It had been a while since I'd presented at our podium, so I was excited to be given the opportunity again! 😀

To prepare for my big 12(+/-) minutes, I spent a few days listening to General Conference talks and reading the scriptures. I had an overall idea of how I wanted my talk to go, but then came the time consuming part of putting it all together!

I spent about two days writing, reading, editing, and practicing my talk in my basement. It was a fun endeavor because I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church sooo much! 💗 But I was also tired while working on everything because Thanksgiving was the day before I actually started writing my talk; I was worn out from a busy week and a full day of cooking! #colormetired! 😂

I felt the time crunch—hello adrenaline! 😁—but finished writing my talk with plenty of time to get everything ready for Sunday morning—and I got to workout to one of my faaavorite fitness videos on Saturday night! Yeah yeah yeah! It was such a great workout, it made me smile my guts out! Plus, after sitting at my computer for pretty much two days straight, I needed some serious physical activity! On Friday morning, I went walking with Greg for 38 minutes and did stretching yoga for 40 minutes before I started writing, but by Saturday night I was super antsy to get my body moving!

And now, here's my talk! 😀

A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit

Adrie Peterson
11/29/2020

In 3 Nephi 12:19, Jesus Christ teaches us, “And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”

In 3 Nephi 9:20, He further teaches, “And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost…”

At times, it may feel difficult to humbly approach our Savior with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Younger Saints might not know exactly what it means to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Others may wonder if it’s really necessary to possess either.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught that a broken heart is a repentant heart, and a contrite spirit is an obedient spirit—that “it is the gift of [ourselves]—what [we] are and what [we] are becoming.”

Elder Bruce D. Porter explained that “Those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit are willing to do anything and everything that God asks of them, without resistance or resentment. We cease doing things our way and learn to do them God’s way instead.”

In the Church’s Gospel Topics, the section on sacrifice describes a broken heart and a contrite spirit as “a willingness to repent of sins and a desire to follow Jesus Christ and align one’s life with His commandments.”

So why should we desire and strive for a broken heart and a contrite spirit? In our beautiful sacrament prayers, we are taught that if we “…are willing to take upon [us] the name of [Jesus Christ], and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given [us]; …[we will] always have his Spirit to be with [us].” That alone is a beautiful promise!

Yet in 2 Nephi 2:6–7, we are further taught that “…redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.”

Thus we see that in Jesus Christ’s extraordinary sacrifice of not only redeeming all of humanity—so that we may live eternally with our dearest loved ones—He is also willing to be with us spiritually each and every day of our lives! Through the spectacular gift of the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ can absolutely influence our lives for the best! We simply must freely give our whole hearts and souls to Him—and ultimately to our Heavenly Father—because as Jesus tells us in John 6:38, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”

Despite the marvelous promised blessings that come from giving ourselves so completely to the Lord, at times we may struggle.

In 3 Nephi 11:11, Jesus Christ gives us some pretty important reasons as to why we should not only want to give ourselves to Him, but why we should happily jump at the chance! He shared His perfect heart with us when he vulnerably said, “…behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.”

Wow. That clears things up pretty quickly, doesn’t it? Thinking of our perfect Savior suffering for the benefit of everyone makes His thought-provoking request not only logical, rational, and reasonable, but a true privilege and honor to willingly participate in.

So what does that mean for each of us individually? How do we implement this wonderful, life-changing idea into our lives? For a little more motivation, Elder Porter beautifully said, “The Savior’s perfect submission to the Eternal Father is the very essence of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Christ’s example teaches us that a broken heart is an eternal attribute of godliness. When our hearts are broken, we are completely open to the Spirit of God and recognize our dependence on Him for all that we have and all that we are. The sacrifice so entailed is a sacrifice of pride in all its forms. Like malleable clay in the hands of a skilled potter, the brokenhearted can be molded and shaped in the hands of the Master.”

I become a little teary when thinking of all the utterly unexpected ways I’ve been molded and shaped in my life by the hands of the Master. Every single experience I’ve been given has greatly improved my soul. I’m so thankful I’m willing and open to learn from all of my trials and challenges—for I absolutely would not be who I am today without them!

Elder Porter shared that “a broken heart and a contrite spirit are also preconditions to repentance,” and that “when we have received a forgiveness of sins, a broken heart serves as a divine shield against temptation.” The protection of a divine shield sounds pretty great to me! 😀

President David O. McKay taught (as quoted in President Thomas S. Monson's General conference talk), “There is one responsibility that no one can evade. That is the effect of one’s personal influence.” 💛 That is such a vital message for everyone! Our life missions are meant to be unique, but each of us has the glorious opportunity to make a significant difference in our world if we are simply willing to be fully open to what our Heavenly Father has in store for us.

Having a close relationship with our Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost is yet another major reason to connect with Jesus Christ through our own broken spirits and contrite hearts. When we break down the walls surrounding our individual wills, we basically become unlimited in the ways Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can utilize us for the benefit of those within our circle of influence! It’s beyond exciting to think about how each of us can reach our highest potential and simultaneously bless the lives of others!

I absolutely love this thought that President Thomas S. Monson wanted each Latter-day Saint to internalize,

“The Redeemer chose imperfect men to teach the way to perfection. He did so then; He does so now. 
“He calls you and me to serve Him here below and sets us to the task He would have us fulfill. The commitment is total. There is no conflict of conscience. 
“As we follow that Man of Galilee—even the Lord Jesus Christ—our personal influence will be felt for good wherever we are, whatever our callings.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared a sweet story about a man he felt prompted to call to a stake presidency in Latin America. The brother owned a bicycle, but no automobile. Elder Holland said, “Many leaders across the Church don’t have cars, but I was nevertheless worried about what that might mean for this man in this particular stake. In my terminally-ill Spanish I pursued the interview, then said, ‘[Brother, don’t you have a car?]’ With a smile and not a second’s hesitation he replied, ‘[I do not have a car, but I do have feet and I do have faith.]’ He then said he could ride the bus, ride his bicycle, or walk…he smiled—‘like the missionaries.’ And so he does.”

We each need to remember that outside of the fundamental principles, ordinances, and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, don’t have a list of requirements as to how our lives should look. There is no standard checklist of worldly accomplishments or endeavors to which each of us should be checking boxes. Instead, we should individually be striving each day to be inspired by the Holy Ghost to live the lives that our Heavenly Father envisions for us—the ones that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected for! Our gift to Them in return is then following through on the inspiration we receive—regardless if we like the answer, or not.

In helping us achieve our goal of desired closeness to God and Jesus Christ through the Holy Ghost, Elder Christofferson wisely shared, “As a first step, you must lay aside any feeling of pride that is so common in the world today. By this I mean the attitude that rejects the authority of God to rule in our lives. …You hear it expressed today in phrases such as ‘Do your own thing’ or ‘Right and wrong depend on what I feel is right for me.’ That attitude is a rebellion against God…”

Throughout our wonderful marriage, Greg and I have experienced so many crossroads where we knew without a doubt that our Heavenly Father had different plans for us than what we wanted or expected. Each time we realized—through amazing spiritual confirmations—that our carefully prepared plans needed to change, there was inevitably a grieving period involved. Yet after we let ourselves mourn our wishes and dreams for a little while, we eventually came full circle and were in harmony with Heaven. Hindsight being 2020 (sorry, I couldn’t resist! 😄), we clearly saw each and every miracle that was brought into our lives simply because we followed the inspiration and revelation we received through the Holy Ghost. The simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ is truly beautiful!

One recent example of this happened in September 2019 when Greg was hired to do his
dream job. It was such a miraculous happening in our lives, there’s zero doubt that divine intervention was involved! Thus, we weren’t thrilled when a few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, Greg was notified that his salary would be reduced by 20%. Even worse, just one short, blissful week after his salary was returned and we thought life was happily trending toward “normal,” Greg’s company let their employees know of the upcoming merger with a competitor. They were transparent in the fact that every employee could possibly face a layoff.

At that point, I was beyond disappointed because Greg had already been through two major layoffs with previous companies—I knew all too well what could be coming to our family, and I was worried about the potential upheaval. I spent the next four months planning and preparing to the best of my abilities for the possibility that Greg would have to start all over again in his career for the third time.

As Greg and I patiently waited for the “layoff ball” to be dropped in our laps, we received a surprise knock at the door. It was our ward mission leader with our stake's two full-time missionaries! As we chatted with them, Greg shared that he was waiting to see if he would be laid off the next day. Our ward mission leader instantly got a sad look on his face for our situation. After we talked about it some more, I said to the missionaries, “…so please put us on your prayer list and pray that Greg keeps his job!” They enthusiastically agreed and said they would pray for us. We set up an appointment to do another Zoom meeting with the missionaries, and they went on their way.

What those kind men don’t know is our very happy history with the Church’s missionaries as a whole, and their positive influence in our lives. While Greg and I have always been so strong in our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church, we have still been helped by the missionaries throughout our time spent living in Colorado, Texas, and Utah. Thus, when the missionaries unexpectedly showed up on our doorstep the very night before Greg was to find out if he would keep his dream job or be laid off, we took it as a blessed sign from Heaven that regardless of the outcome, the Lord was aware of us and He had a plan for us. 💛

The happy ending to that story is that Greg was one of the lucky ones who kept his dream job—for now. He knows that as the merger of his two companies continues, there is a possibility that his responsibilities and job title could look different. My heart aches for Greg’s coworkers and their families who didn’t experience the same positive outcome as we did. Yet in that same breath, I have full faith that there is a plan for each of those former employees, too. I know they will be cared for, led, and directed on the path the Lord has for them! While we never know what’s coming our way, we can and must have faith that we will be taken care of regardless of what happens.

This life is meant to challenge and change us for the best! 💗 One of our goals should include not only enduring life’s challenges, but enduring them well—to the best of our abilities. I wholeheartedly believe that if we are willing to stay close to our Heavenly Father by being dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ, we will not only become strong in our trials, but we can find joy as we struggle through our challenges.

As we choose to give our broken hearts and contrite spirits to the Lord, He promises us marvelous additional blessings found in Ezekiel 36:26, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Oh, how I love that scripture!

(Bear testimony.)

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 😀

**********

So, there you have it! I wish I would have finished writing this blog post sooner, as I've forgotten most of what happened after I gave this talk. In my defense, there has been a lot going on in our COVID-19-pandemic-mess-of-a-world, so I've been a little distracted over the past six months! 😄

I do remember that my talk was received positively, so that was a huge relief! I more than loved getting such kind text messages, phone calls, and emails from people who watched my talk (online and in person) and gained something beneficial from it. It really meant a lot to my happy soul! 💛

Lastly, it's super fun that my official YouTube debut was giving this talk in my ward's sacrament meeting! Ha ha. 😄 Yay yay for all of this amazing technology that continually blesses our lives! I hope you have a wonderful day! 😁

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