I recently met with my bishop (who is wonderful and drops everything to talk if I have questions or concerns. He is a TRUE servant of God.) and we briefly talked about how frustrating it can be to see good well meaning people be led away and fall into unhappiness.
Bishop pointed out that each time, the person had allowed themselves to dwell on and think things that are contrary to the gospel. Sure…at first they weren’t doing anything wrong. They were living the commandments and going to church. But they allowed themselves to think and hope for things that were not righteous. Slowly, the thoughts increased, and eventually became action. Soon there was anger against the Church and its leaders. Inactivity followed.
We discussed the idea of following the Lord 100% and doing our best to keep all the commandments and not allow ourselves to nurture and feed unrighteous thought patterns. I was reminded of a story that the wife of my Stake President recently shared.
She spoke of a couple who were married and starting a family. One day the missionaries came to their house and began to teach them. As they left, the Elders challenged the couple to live the gospel and learn of its truthfulness for themselves. They said goodbye to the elders and shut the door. Immediately the husband walked back to the kitchen and took from the refrigerator a pitcher of sweet tea (something he had loved and drank for years). He then walked to the sink and began to pour it down the drain.
His wife was shocked and asked him what he was doing. He simply said “If we are going to do this thing, we are going to do it all the way.”
He never drank tea again.
He and his wife were baptized, and they raised their family in the gospel. Their daughter later became the wife of my Stake President. This good couple had the faith to live the gospel “all the way” and they learned of its truthfulness and it brought them joy.
I was so grateful for this testimony of the blessings that come from living the gospel. I myself have had rough times. I was not very active in the Church for a while in my life, and the reason was because I wanted to live the gospel MY way, and not the Lord’s way. Slowly I became more and more unhappy, and I became angry and bitter at the Church. I wanted to live the way I wanted to live and the Church was holding me back. My thoughts became actions and I fell away.
God has warned us of this in the scriptures. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” –Matthew 6:24 In just the verse before, the Savior warns us that we cannot let even the smallest part of ourselves be dark, because it will bring darkness to our whole beings.
For me, I know it could be so easy to just keep looking at that one guy I find attractive. Or wish that we could be in a relationship. And wish that we could be married. But that thought process leads to actions. With enough time I would seek a boyfriend (as I once did). I would seek after the things that I thought about and I would lose myself.
The one true and sure thing is the Savior Jesus Christ. If we can focus on Him, and allow Him to fill our lives, every other thing will fall away. Devote yourself to Him. Do it “all the way”. He will comfort you and bring you the peace and joy that you seek. Live the gospel all the way, and watch the beauty of the Atonement change your life for the better. I promise, it works for me and it can work for you.