(Talk given Sunday December 2009 at Scottsdale Coronado Ward, Scottsdale Arizona. Leyla Hur)
Good afternoon brothers and sisters.
Just to give you a little hint about the difference between my dear husband and I, and for those of you who may not know me or what my passions are; when Brother McComas called and asked us to speak today, my poor husband’s face dropped as he said “Darn, so much for flying under the radar”; while I was nearly jumping for joy at the chance to get up here and speak to you all. You should have seen the look I received from my husband at my excitement.
You see, we have been members of this ward for over five years now, and while we have been active and inactive over that time frame, we have never once been asked to give a talk.
And the phone call also came just a few days after my husband shaved off his beard after over 10 years of not seeing his face. Many have wondered at this sudden change, and even some wondered if there was going to be another major change in callings.
So here is the deal, I tend to get rather philosophical around 2AM; call it lack of sleep which give off the effects of deluded “visions”, or whatever; but generally, my husband never listens to me… except this one night… So maybe we were “sharing” in the 2AM deluded “visions”, or possibly I actually had something pertinent to say?!
As I was sitting there, getting into one of my “philosophical” moments, I shared a thought with my husband; I told him that very often we hide behind things and this prevents us from moving forward in our lives. The things we hide behind could be physical in nature, or a false perceived image which we create… also known as a FEAR or (False Evidence Appearing Real).
When we remove the obstacle, or idea, that is preventing us from reaching our full potential, and we stand completely unhindered, amazing things start to happen.
Then I looked at my husband… and all I saw was “the beard”. As a side note I said to him; “Your obstacle that you hide behind is your beard. You want to attain so much, you move forward at rapid speed, but then stop way short of your goal, and I think that the FEAR overwhelms you and your beard is something that you can hide behind” Then I said these words, “You should shave it off.”
The next thing I know, my husband is getting up and off the sofa and heading to the bathroom… razor in hand.
And yes, I do have the entire process documented on video, and will be coming to a You Tube channel near you.
For most of you, you know who I am and what my passion in life is; for those of you who don’t, my name is Leyla Hur and my passion is empowering people and helping them identify, and overcome the obstacles which hold them back in life, helping them realize and live a life of success.
Now many people misunderstand the meaning of success, and attribute the word to finances; and surely it is represented in that manner, but success comes in all avenues in life.
For us, as Latter-day Saints, we look towards living a purpose-driven life and one which will afford us to reach the Celestial Kingdom and dwell with our Father in Heaven, and our families for all eternity.
Often times, people will become deluded with the belief that for us to attain the Highest Degree of Glory, we must be perfect. What we forget, or overlook is the fact that this life is a journey and that each step we take, is a lesson that we must learn. Each step affords us the opportunity for choice and consequence. Every choice we make comes with a consequence, and those consequences are either going to be positive or negative in nature depending on our choices. But nevertheless, each consequence also brings with it a beautiful opportunity to learn.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said it best when he said “Come what may, and love it.”
In other words, whatever life brings you, whatever choices you have made which have caused a consequence, don’t disparage at it, but rather embrace it and look at it as a life lessoned learned.
We are at the end of a year and a brand new year is on the horizon. I have been quite amused to hear many of my friends and acquaintances say “I can’t wait for this year to be over and the New Year to begin; things have simply GOT to get better in 2010.”
What deems the end of a year and the beginning of a New Year? Nothing more than a clock striking midnight and the signifying of a new day. How is this different from any other day of the year? Nothing really, except that on January first, we have the opportunity to start a new calendar.
In actuality, each day that we wake up and arise to is an opportunity to create something new and wonderful. Most of us are doing this automatically without even thinking about it.
For many, the end of a year signifies endings and new beginnings, but what if we were to turn our attention to this on a daily basis? What if, at the end of each day, we turned our thoughts to reflecting on the day which has just passed, and we looked for the wonderful lessons and learning opportunities we encountered that day?
At the end of the year, many give thanks and gratitude that the year has ended and a new one beginning, but what if we changed that which we were grateful for? If we were to take 10 or 15 minutes each evening before we retired, and prior to our nightly prayers to truly reflect on the day, and kept abreast of those things which we had to be grateful for, our prayers would be filled with greater richness, and the blessings returned in favour, would be abundant.
Sister Marjorie Hinckley has said; “It’s a valuable exercise to close your eyes every once in a while and think “what is the most wonderful moment I have lived through during the past year?”.” Imagine if we were to do this on a daily basis, how more fulfilled and richer we would live our lives.
In the March 1971 Ensign, Sister Geraldine P. Anderson said: ‘People who take time to truly pour out their hearts in gratitude, who frequently count their blessings before [the Lord] verbally and praise him for his goodness, are the ones who talk to him in an easy and personal manner. Isn’t this the way all great prophets have approached their Maker?”
I am a firm believer in living in an attitude of gratitude. Each moment of each day, our brains create thousands of thoughts, and unfortunately, many of these thoughts are negative. Oft-times we are bombarded with these thoughts from images we view, words we hear, and energies in situations we are involved in. How can we stop these thoughts from occurring so that we can remove the negativity from our lives and in so doing, allow the Spirit to enter in? When these thoughts begin to arise, immediately stop them in their tracks, and that sometimes means we also have to stop in our tracks, and start counting our blessings and start practicing gratitude for each.
As the wonderful hymn goes; “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will be singing as the days go by
When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold. Count your many blessings; money cannot buy, Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.
So amid the conflict, whether great or small, Do not be discouraged; God is over all. Count your many blessings; angels will attend, Help and comfort given you to your journeys end.”
The Chinese Taoist Philosopher Lao Tzu said; “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” When we look at the Book of Mormon, and the very first prophets we are introduced to, Lehi and Nephi; theirs was a huge journey, but they too had to take the first step. So where am I going with this?
All thoughts such as “I want to…” or “I’ll try to…” are nothing more than half-hearted attempts to sway us into a delusion of non-action and non-committal to ourselves. Each step can only be taken by the ACTION of taking that step.
ACTION being the key-word here. It takes 21-days to form a new habit, and while most people make New Year’s resolutions, most also give up the task of what they have resolved to change after a week or more. To create positive change in your life, and in the life of those around you, you have to be consistent, maintain your momentum.
I often view the brand New Year as a marathon… for the adept athlete, they start off the marathon pacing themselves, this pacing helps them keep the momentum going, and as they come to the final leg, they pick up the pace and as the finishing line comes into view, often will sprint the last distance to the end.
For the novice, they may often look at those around them and start off at a sprint, and may even for a time, be leading the pack; however, as their burst of energy wears off, they have no more reserves to carry them through to the finish line, often leaving the race without completion.
Each year, many of us resolve to cut back on calories, pick up on exercising, read so many chapters of scriptures each day, and more; and we start off the year in a “Gung-ho” manner, only to reach a point where we realize that we set our sights too high, and that reading 10 chapters a day of our scriptures, in a determined effort to read the entire quad in a single year, may have been just a little unrealistic. Or that on January 2nd (because we ALL give ourselves January 1st “off”), we’re going to hit the gym and do a full hour of high-impact aerobics, only we are huffing and puffing climbing the stairs to the changing rooms, worn out before we hit the class.
Have you fallen into this New Year’s resolution “trap” before? I know I sure have.
As we end this year, my hope, and challenge to you is to pace yourself. Realise that January 1st is just another day, no real difference to February 1st, or even December 28th. If you have determined to make a positive change in your life, you can do it right now.
The boy-prophet, Joseph Smith did not wait until January 1st to enter into the woods that bright spring morning to seek the answers to the question burning in his heart; and neither should you.
Seek for positive change in your life, and seek it today. Take a few moments to understand what it is that you desire in your life, identify what may be the issues holding you back, and when you can identify them; go to your Father in Heaven in prayer and ask Him to help you to remove these blocks. When you find yourself faced with a fear, illumination of that fear will remove the “scare” factor when you can see clearly what it is.
Like the child who is convinced a monster lives under their bed; upon the light being shined under the bed with a loving parent to illuminate that there really is nothing there to fear, the child can then find solace in deep slumber.
Once illuminated, it can cease to exist and your stride towards your end-goal can be reached.
Sheri L. Dew has said; “The antidote to the distractions of the adversary is Jesus Christ. Light is stronger than darkness. Jesus Christ illuminates our vision of who we are and why we are here and gives us courage to move forward in the journey toward our heavenly home.”
Brothers and sisters, this past year has been a year especially difficult for many throughout the world, and indeed in this very ward. The drop in the economy has caused many to lose their jobs, their homes, and more. While all around us, we are seemingly surrounded in darkness, and for many, that darkness may have seeped into our own homes, and our own lives.
One of the greatest blessings we have, is the knowledge that we have been given the gift of agency; and in this gift, we have the ability to make choices. While around us there may be many who are “tempest tossed”, and while it may indeed be infiltrating our own lives, we can choose to get pulled into the storm of chaotic depression, despair, panic, and ill-ease; or we can turn our hearts, our minds, and our KNOWLEDGE to our faith, and follow Him, and allow Him to ease our minds.
When we turn our hearts and minds to our Father in Heaven, and to our Eldest Brother, who is Jesus Christ; we can truly be healed of our earthly woes. And even though we may be facing our darkest hours, Their Light can illuminate that which is truth and that which is fiction which we have created within our own minds, and panic-state.
We have all heard of the many blessings, even miraculous blessings showered upon those with faith and who give up of their controlling every aspect of their lives, and letting Father step in and take the bitter cup from us. And herein I believe lies the secret… and that is to give up control and give it up to God.
We have heard that we are never given more than we can carry, and for some of us, we may wonder what on earth Heavenly Father is thinking, and has he forgotten this fact. But when we get through the storm, and we look back, we can see that our father truly DOES KNOW us, and KNOWS exactly what strengths we possess.
When I look back over the past 10 years of my life, I have seen the times when I have been tempest tossed. 10 years ago, my first husband committed suicide, leaving me homeless, and on a path of utter destruction. I was mis-diagnosed and then over-dosed. On my 29th birthday I suffered a massive seizure, my heart stopped, and once resuscitated, I was inturbated and on life support in a coma. Upon coming out of this state and released from hospital, I was diagnosed with having residual brain damage and no chance for cure. The result of the seizure and coma acted upon my brain as if I had had a massive stroke; I could not talk, walk, read, or write. I was told to go home, get a good hobby, and live out my life the best I could. There was NO hope.
But I did not accept this. I KNEW that my Father had more in store for me. I made my determination and my decision; then placed complete and utter faith in my Father and allowed Him to help me as I lended the action steps I needed to take to become whole. My faith did not waiver, and without any occupational, or medical assistance; and with sheer determination and indelible faith, in 45 days, I was walking, talking, reading, writing, typing, and re-learning how to use the internet.
Heavenly Father KNOWS us, he KNOWS what we can and cannot handle, he KNOWS our worth “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10)
As we allow Him to truly enter into our lives, we will see the miracles as they flow. The darkness will be illuminated and the way will be made clear.
This life is a journey, and each step brings us closer to our end goal. As you go home today, and before you say your prayers tonight, think back on this day, reflect on the wonderful gifts you have been given in opportunity to learn. Focus on what your end goal truly is; remember tomorrow is a brand new day, and we need not wait until midnight on December 31st to create the changes we wish to change in our lives; as Sister Michaelene P. Grassli has said; “Every day – every minute – is a new, blank page of life. Regardless of our past, we can have a fresh start at any moment and write on that page what we choose. We are empowered in that by the Savior, in whom all becomes new.”