I have noticed, even as I’ve observed my own immediate and extended family, that it is so easy to repeat the past, even when we didn’t like it the first time around. I love that the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about finding the strength to do what’s right, notwithstanding our traditions or culture or long-time habits. There are many righteous traditions and predecessors upon which we can build our futures. Elder Ballard of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles spoke about this topic in the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference. He stated, “”Learning the lessons of the past allows you to build personal testimony on a solid bedrock of obedience, faith, and the witness of the Spirit.”
We’ll study his talk this week for General Conference Book Club. You can find the text here:
>>Click here to read “Learning the Lessons of the Past” by Elder M. Russell Ballard.<<
If this is your first visit to the General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it. You’re welcome to join us at any point along the way, and we’d love to welcome back many of you that we haven’t heard from in a while.
And if you didn’t get the chance to watch this video, it’s worth your time.
4 thoughts on “General Conference Book Club Week 13: Elder Ballard”
Sometimes I wonder why we as mortals are so insistent on our knowing what is best for us and those around us, whether or not the others are a whole lot more experienced. Or that we somehow know more than God. Lately I’ve been thinking that I have the right answer to something I’ve been praying and pondering about, only to be smacked in the face yesterday with the real answer – the one I didn’t want and had been ignoring. Isn’t that fun? I need to learn from the past and realize that this is definitely not the first time I’ve done this and that I don’t just get the “it’s up to you” answer every time I ask for direction.
As for the rise and decline of civilization, it’s interesting to see within ourselves the rising and declining of the Spirit. For me it’s weekly (or so it feels), as well as more long-term cycles. I’m hoping for an upswing as my baby becomes more of a toddler, because I’m going to need God-like patience.
This is right where I am in trying to read the whole Conference Ensign. (I’m a little behind!) A couple of my favorite parts:
“There are great lessons to be learned from the past, and you ought to learn them so that you don’t exhaust your spiritual strength repeating past mistakes and bad choices.” Yeah, I definitely need as much spiritual strength as I can get! I’m sure I waste a lot of it on repeating my own mistakes from the past! Especially when it comes to parenting & disciplining strategies!
“Spiritual light is not lost because God turns His back on His children. Rather, spiritual darkness results when His children turn their collective backs on Him.” God NEVER leaves us alone! From Elder Holland’s October 2008 talk: “I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face.” How often do we say, “No. I’m okay. I don’t need anything. Thanks for asking, though.” I wonder if this slightly darkens our spiritual light??? We’re not accepting God’s help (through His angels). It kind of IS like turning out backs on Him… I just thought of that as I was typing, so I definitely have more pondering to do on that one! I’d love some input! I never thought of that before…
For some reason, one of the things that stood out to me was “You don’t have to spend time as a Laman or a Lemuel in order to know that it’s much better to be a Nephi or a Jacob.” I think this is because I have a friend who feels that her testimony and faith is much deeper than mine because she spent years being a “Laman” and now knows the difference in her life since she has turned her life around. Now, I could never say I’m a “Nephi” but I can say that always striving to be “Nephi” is an easier way to get there than spending time as a “Laman”, too. I have plenty of times that I have failed, repented, and strived to do better without completely turning my back on the Gospel, and those experiences are enough to tell me that I don’t want to be a “Laman”. Anyway, I try to tell my kids that they don’t have to make bad decisions to learn from them because there are so many others that will make the bad decisions for them. They can learn by watching them and try to make better decisions. Obviously all of us will have plenty of times when we learn from our mistakes, but, as Elder Ballard said, we don’t need to waste spiritual strength repeating others’ mistakes. It’s better to learn from the past-ours, OR someone else’s.
Also, I liked where he said: “And how do we get such a testimony?…desire, study, prayer, obedience, and service.” I love the inclusion of service to others in gaining a testimony. When I take time to serve others, I gain a deeper understanding of the Savior’s love and atontment. It is a sure way to humble ourselves and learn from others. I need to take the opportunity more. Great talk.
Since I have a new calling working with the youth again, I was struck by how much he was encouraging them to focus on the scriptures and words of the apostles to keep them from falling into the cyclical mistakes that have been so oft-repeated in society.
And like the queen said, I appreciated the simple things that we all must do to build and maintain a testimony.
Also about the whole “you don’t have to be a Laman…” thing, I remember hearing in a talk once that obedience is a substitute for experience. I can’t remember the exact phrasing, but something about how some people learn by their own mistakes/experience, but obedience can be a substitute for that and we learn the blessings without having to experience the sorrow on the flip side.