This is from a talk I gave at church on October 25, 2020.
Yesterday, we went to the one place you can get soy sauce with your fries: Shawnigan Jens Sushi. Celeste and Elise and I marched into our favourite Japanese-American take-out restaurant, and were told some terrible news: they were out of french fries.
I knew this wouldn’t bode well, and it didn’t. 4-year-old Celeste didn’t understand. How could this be? Why was this happening now? To her?
She didn’t throw a tantrum. Just her lower lip started to quiver and extend outwards. There was sadness inside her that she just couldn’t hold in. She began to cry for her french fries.
I saw the same feeling I had had many years earlier, when I was a similar age. My mom had told me and my older brother she would pick us up from school early, to meet her by the portable: we were going for a few weeks to Hawaii. (Older kids will remember that time, when you could just fly around the world like it was no big deal.) I remembered being there before: I had enjoyed building sand-castles, boogie-boarding, eating pineapple, and, my favourite, a little video-game arcade with a giant 8-player game of X-Men.
But after I had waited, and waited, she didn’t arrive at the planned time. She arrived quite late, without my brother. She told me we weren’t going afterall because of some reasons I didn’t really understand. But she came anyway to tell me, because she knew I’d be very disappointed. She tried her best to comfort me, before I went back to class.
I recalled that episode when Celeste cried for her missed meal, and had no desire to scold her for making a scene. I understood that even though lacking french fries, and Hawaii, are both small issues, we can still feel them deeply.
You’ve had worse disappointments. 2020 has been surreal for many of us. What helps you through your trials?
One requirement to enter the temple is to have faith in God, the Eternal Father, and in his son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. Besides just allowing us to enter the temple, this faith and testimony sustains us through trials.
When I missed my trip to Hawaii, and Celeste missed her french fries, we were still fundamentally ok: we knew God had a plan, Jesus Christ had the power to make things right, and the Holy Ghost could comfort us on our way.
Earlier this year, when coronavirus changed from sensational news headline to a global-pandemic, I think most of us had the doomsday thought “is this it?” In a panic, we emptied the groceries stores of toilet paper. Local business owners were in tears, having no idea how to make ends meet. I have some online acquaintances living in Italy who reported the alarming scene they were experiencing.
I didn’t know exactly how it would turn out, or how it will turn out still, but I do know Heavenly Father has a plan. He’s had this plan called “mortality” for a long time.
My testimony of God, the Eternal Father, and that he has a plan, and is aware of me, brought me comfort. Hearing Elder Holland say “When we have conquered this—and we will” brought explicit assurance the end was not yet.
Although our emergency preparedness isn’t perfect, we had been quite diligent preparing food storage and the like previous to coronavirus. We could subsist for a while if need-be. Our faith to follow God’s counsel given through his prophets had brought us peace in the time of uncertainty.
Also, late last year, we moved to a fairly old, but quite lovely, hobby farm. We felt a little impelled towards the move, even though we were nearly perfectly happy before, and it would be quite a lot of work. But we’ve been happy with the move, and have quite enjoyed raising pigs, and trying to grow fruit and vegetables. When the early days of “social distancing” came into effect, there were months where we barely left the house. But we really didn’t mind, we quite enjoyed staying at home with each other; and we were grateful to have had the prompting to make that move a year earlier. Our testimony of the guidance of the Holy Ghost had helped bring us extra peace.
On my mission, I relied heavily on the Holy Ghost to know who to speak to, and what to say. I’ve been surprised at the ways the Holy Ghost guides me nowadays, and in the seemingly mundane things. One of which has been putting people to sleep. Amanda says I have a super-power of putting people to sleep. (I hope that sleep power isn’t affecting you all right now.) While Amanda has been fantastic at planning, budgeting, and enjoying being with the children, I’ve often contributed with helping put them to sleep.
Putting young children to sleep is an artform. It requires just the right ambiance and timing. It’s not the same for any two of our children, and it’s constantly changing for each one. Baby Danielle would only nap in the stroller and in the car. Celeste until recently, was a tyrant as a preschooler―constantly getting up after being put down, for hours, driving me bonkers. Elise will nap to me jostling her around the living room listening to pan flute music. The same strategy rarely worked on another child, and requirements of each are constantly changing.
Sometimes, after trying to put someone down for an hour or more, I’d cry out “help!” And I’d feel guided. “More whitenoise”, “take them for a run”, “just put them down in bed”, “they’re not tired now, go play”, or “go ask Amanda for help.” The Holy Ghost has guided me in the mundane, but soemtimes challenging, task of getting young children to sleep.
Having said that, getting children to sleep has also been one matter I’ve been frustrated with, and sometimes lost my cool. Bedtime routines can get long, and children can get distracted, parents can get impatient, and children can show their tiredness through yelling instead of sleeping. Sometimes I’ve behaved no better than the red-faced screaming baby.
Having faith in Jesus Christ means having faith that he can make things right, even when I’ve made a mistake.
Through our repentance, and his power, it’s like the mistake never happened.
Our faith that God directs us through prophets has also led to some extra happy experiences, despite these unusual times. We’ve adapted the children and youth program to our younger children, and each family member sets a monthly physical, social, intellectual and spiritual goal. They’re not hard ones; for example, a physical goal is to “learn to do a cart wheel” or “improve my posture”. Recently, having seen the children’s interest for early history, I set an intellectual goal to read to the kids about world history. We’ve been enjoying reading “out of the best books” together, in addition to the good times we’ve had reading scriptures and from other Church books.
Faith, and a testimony, that God the Father has a plan, that Jesus Christ has the power to forgive, and that we will be guided through their servants and the Holy Ghost, has been a steadying force in our lives.
The ancient prophet Helaman said
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the arock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.Helaman 5:12
Having faith and a testimony of God, his Son, and the Holy Ghost, doesn’t just help us be worthy of entering the temple, it is their prescribed foundation for life.
Where does this faith come from? One easy source is just hearing the word of God. Just read the scriptures, go to Church, be around Them more often.
Where does a testimony (or firm assurance) come from? One way is acting on the seed of faith, following the guidance you’ve received.
Faith and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost has helped our family during the year of 2020. I’d invite you to think about how your faith and testimony in them, the Godhead, has helped you this year. Maybe discuss it with your family.
I am blessed to know God the Father has a plan for us, his children; that Jesus Christ has the power to help us become spotless and clean from our mistakes and return to him, and the Holy Ghost will guide and comfort us on the way back. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.