Follow-up on September’s Council Meeting “How can we protect ourselves and our families from inappropriate media and pornography?”
- We have all sorts of filters and parental guidance apps and we pretty much control our teenager’s smart phone. She told me that her friend got a smart phone for her birthday and her mom said, ‘if you don’t follow every single one of my rules, I’m going to find out what app [your friend’s mom] use and put it on your phone.’ I’m ok with being that parent!
- I think we’ve been made more aware of it. At least for me, when I sit down to the TV or even a book, I think about it. It makes me more aware, so I appreciate that council meeting.
- I had found a picture of our prophet and framed it. It’s just a little 5×7 and I put it right beside the TV. It’s like a silent reminder, so that I’m not nagging the kids.
“The Lord wants us to accept ministering from others.”
As you’ll see today, this talk from 1975, it could’ve been given yesterday. It applies to us and it is called, “We Can’t Do It Alone” by Elder Hales. It is so inspired and so great. I’m going to take a little bit of a different angle today and you’ll see what I’m talking about as we get going.
I learned so much about some things that I need to do better in my life. Especially in thinking that we can do things alone. He starts out and talks about how we all have testimonies and they’re all different because we’re all different. We all have a testimony about the Holy Ghost, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith restored the gospel, that we have the priesthood and he lists all the wonderful things that we have and believe in the church. Then he says, “Yet, my brothers and sisters, with all of this knowledge, why is it that some of us fail to learn the very critical point that we did not come to this life to live it alone?”
Then he starts talking about the “isolated self” and I might be more of this isolated type of person, so I can relate. “The “isolated self” shut off from the Light of Christ makes us become fallible—open to delusion”
What do you think that means?
- Possibility of making errors
Yes, we can make mistakes and start to become confused. “The balance and perspective which come from caring about others and allowing others to care for us form the essence of life itself. We need the inspired help of others to avoid deceiving ourselves.”
Why is it that when we’re alone we can become so much more susceptible to making mistakes?
- I think because all you’re doing is talking to yourself. You can imagine things and it can explode. Whereas if you have someone else that’s there, they can give their opinions. And it gives you something else to think about, something else to work on.
- When you see kids on TV that have been in trouble, that’s exactly what they’ve done. They’ve cut themselves off and they start building things in their mind and they have no one to tell them [what they are thinking] is wrong. You see that very often with teenagers.
I think as women, we have the gift to be able to multi-task, but sometimes that can be a frustrating gift. I don’t know if this happens to you, but I can have so many things going on in my head, and you’re focused on your family and all the things that need to be done, and it can keep going till you almost can’t shut off your brain. If you start to isolate yourself too much, then the thoughts can turn negative.
- I was so impressed with how informed and in tune with the general authorities. Elder Oaks recently said, ‘we know more than you think we know.’ They are constantly getting reports from the experts on everything and this is very much from the psychology of self-talk and our thoughts and how we can lie to ourselves and not even realize we’re lying to ourselves. Questioning ourselves- is our thought true? And if it is true, what does it mean? Examining these things in the light of Christ so we can get out of this deceiving ourselves and be true to our covenants no matter what is happening around us. It’s a whole realm of agency that maybe we haven’t considered. The agency of choosing how we think about the events or what someone has said or how they said it, in their tone of voice.
Just think about the misunderstandings we can have with our loved ones. It’s true that we can lie to ourselves and not even be aware, or you might be concerned with what others may be thinking about you. I think we waste so much time and energy and we fall into this trap of judging ourselves from the perspective of others and they’re probably not even thinking about us that way.
- I think it gets even more complicated and harder if there is any kind of anxiety or depression involved. I know that is something that I struggle with on a daily basis, but especially when I’m pregnant and I’m not taking my medications for the safety of the fetus. But there are times when I need to call my husband at work or ask him when he comes home, this is how I’m feeling right now and ask is this real or is it all in my head? Every single time it is things that I have imagined in my head that are not really what is going on. I think if we don’t have someone to talk to and ask or someone to bounce ideas off, I think there’s strength in numbers. Satan is really good at getting inside our heads and letting us get inside our own heads when we don’t have anyone else to remind us.
Definitely! You’ll see more of what he talks about that is exactly along that line. He says, “It is clear to me that we have imperfections of body, imperfections of mind and intellect—that we are not perfect. And for that reason, we are dependent on others. We must be self-sufficient ourselves, but that does not mean independent of help of others.”
Here’s one example he gives, “We cannot gain a testimony without having the help of the Holy Ghost.” You can’t do that alone. At least you won’t have a very strong testimony. It might just be intellectual. Until you have the feeling and you’re reinforced like at church and someone says something and you get that feeling- that’s the Holy Ghost and it’s way stronger than anything intellectual.
What are some other things that we might the need help of others?
- I think being a mom. When my daughter was in the hospital, the doctors would ask, ‘what support do you have at home?’ As a mom, it’s great to have other moms around like at the bus stop, in case you can’t make it one day that you know someone is going to yell at your kids to stay on the sidewalk and stay safe. As a mom at church, to have somebody hand your kid a fruit snack or a crayon. As a mom, I think we do rely on other kids to help with our kids and their parents.
Sometimes you don’t realize, you can have a house full of little kids and be super alone. I was busy in my life and so involved in my kids and all that they’re doing, but then I would have the visiting teachers come and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, I’m talking to another adult woman and she gets where I’m at. She’s going through the same things.’ It’s so uplifting and freeing.
- For me, this is the first year all of my kids have been in school. My husband asked me what are you going to do with 5 ½ hours of your day? That first day I just sat waiting and thinking they were going to need me. I was staring at my phone thinking someone was going to text me they forgot something and no one did. I felt alone and missed that feeling of being needed. My husband reminded me that we have 3 temples that I could go to. So, it was so cool to think I can go to Logan and meet my mom or I could go with [a friend]. So, I’ve made a goal to go once a week and that feeling of being needed- I know thousands of people up there that need me. It was a motivation for me. But you can feel alone during those times.
And, that’s a great choice. That’s what we’re going to be talking about today- the choices we can make to help us not be alone. For some of us it’s harder than for others. Maybe it’s uncomfortable to reach out or go out to do things, but we’ve got to do it.
- I think it’s important for these mothers who are able to stay home and be with their children. I think the Lord is telling you that you do need alone time. You need to grow as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, and find something that you enjoy doing. He has given us talents, you have a talent as a mom and you hold that family together, but you also have other talents. Learn what some of those are and develop them and feel some pride in some things that Heavenly Father has given you to do. As you get older, the kids are gone, finding other things that you can do, not only as a hobby, but all of a sudden you have time to do for others instead of the family. It’s all different parts of our lives and if we’re able to live long enough, we’re going to go through those different stages.
That’s so brilliant what you said because we do need to figure out what makes us happy and fulfilled on our own and not relying on somebody else to make you feel fulfilled and it’s a journey. As your kids leave you can feel kind of lost, you don’t know what you’re supposed to do anymore. Have you ever had anybody ask you, ‘what do you like to do?’ And you’re like, ‘I don’t know.’ There are inspiring books that talk about finding the thing you love to do and I think, ‘I don’t know.’ I do have some things I like to do, but really finding things that can be fulfilling for us is important. No matter what point you are at.
- I think as our life stages change, we cannot look back and say as you’re sitting home alone, ‘my kids don’t love me, they don’t come and visit me even though they are all close around me. Nobody comes and sees me.’ You have to realize they’ve got their own lives. Every once in a while, I sit at home and think, ‘why don’t my kids come and see me other than when they need me?’ I think it goes two ways, I could go visit them and help them. Not to think that when I go into a different stage that we’re not less needed.
My kids started to leave recently and I don’t like it one bit, but it made me think, ‘I need to go hang out with my parents more.’ We get so wrapped up in our own life that we can forget how important our parents are. We need to call and communicate with our parents and appreciate everything they have done and sacrificed and be there for them.
- I think sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns. Your kids get really busy with their lives. They’re raising kids, they’re all going in different directions. This is true in my family. My daughter was in a bicycle race yesterday, so we went down to cheer her on as she came in from the ride. We were talking and my granddaughters are growing up, they’re young women and young twenties, we need to get together once a month and have a girl’s day out. Nobody would think to mention that except ol’ grandma that would love to go out with the girls and have fun and find out what’s going on in their lives and the things they like to do. Sometimes I think it’s up to us and take the bull by the horns and say, ‘hey, let’s go do something.’ Maybe it won’t be once a month, maybe every three months, but we’re going to do it because I’m going to see to it.
That’s a huge part of this message. We have to take the bull by the horns because we each need to reach out and not stay in our own world. Reach out, make friends, and decide that you’re going to do stuff with other people. Everybody loves it when we do it.
- I have a coworker that has a sleepover once a year with her grandkids and she talks about how they made slime and she has all of these activities like a Primary activity day and I thought, ‘I want to do that one day.’ (Yeah, having events like this can help us be more unified with friends or family.)
- It’s interesting as we go through the different seasons of our lives how these things change. I remember having a friend that said after her husband died, and she wasn’t that old, but she made the comment, ‘I can be in a group of 10,000 people and I still feel so alone.’ I had never thought about that before.
I really think there is a lot of loneliness going on in our day and age. We think we’re connected with our devices, but it’s more artificial. We need face-to-face, we need people in our lives. It’s important.
- I really do agree with that, but my sister lives [very far away] and my mom too, so we have a group text going that throughout the day we’ll share if we read something in the scriptures that impacts us, or my sister’s kids are the same age as mine, so we’ll mention if we actually made it out of the house, or made it to the grocery store. Little successes like that that we text throughout the day. Even though we’re far apart, it’s a way that we can still feel connected with each other. It can be easy to get lost in your devices and lost in your phone and ignore the people who are close around you, but I think sometimes we have these relationships with people who aren’t close to us geographically, and I think it’s a wonderful tool to use, but not to get sucked in and spend all day.
It is a blessing and using Skype where you can see your grandkids or your children face-to-face, it’s really awesome. So, there are really good things with our technology, I didn’t mean to imply that there wasn’t.
A couple of amazing things Elder Hales said was, “For a moment, fold your thumb under your hand and look at the back of your hand with your fingers extended. You will see a flight of four planes with a leader and three wingmen. You are protected on the left and on the right, and the leader is concentrating on his goals. If for a moment you will separate and put two fingers on either side, you will still see a leader and a wingman, one plane ahead of the other, and one plane on the wing to protect.” But, if you’re off alone, that’s when there’s danger and when you’re going to be singled out and destroyed. If you think about how important it is to have people around you that strengthen you up, sometimes correct you, or help you.
The Lord told us to come to church every week and we get this help from each other every Sunday. He didn’t say once a month, he knew that we would need it regularly, that it would be a big part of our growth. We need to be here. We need the help from each other. He set it up for our benefit.
There’s a danger in missing, because it can be easy to miss [church] a few times and to start to become a little inactive and then all those other things start creeping in, right? Those thoughts and the things that are dangerous to us.
“Why then do many of us “go it alone” and deny those who love us most the joy and blessings which come from sharing?”
“When we are marred spiritually or physically, our first reaction is to withdraw into the dark shadows of depression, to blot out hope and joy—the light of life which comes from knowing we are living the commandments of our Father in heaven. This withdrawal will ultimately lead us to rebellion against those who would like to be our friends, those who can help us most, even our family. But worst of all, we finally reject ourselves.”
I’ve never heard it put that way and I kind of needed to hear that. Especially when I start to isolate myself. It’s so easy to withdraw, for the depression to come in, and the people you need in your life can’t help you anymore. It kind of reminds me of the stuff people put out on Facebook or Instagram. They’re trying to get validation from “likes” that people give, instead of from those close to them who love them. It may be another way that Satan is trying to pull us away from getting help from the people who can really help us- our families who really love us, who really care about us, not the people that are “liking” [our posts].
Here’s another powerful quote, “Those who are alone and lonely should not retreat to the sanctuary of their private thoughts and chambers. Such retreat will ultimately lead them into the darkening influence of the adversary, which leads to despondency, loneliness, frustration, and to thinking of themselves as worthless.”
So, it always kind of starts here [when we retreat] and then we reject ourselves, or we think we are worthless. If you’re having any of those thoughts, then what do we need to do?
- Do something for somebody else.
True, get out of yourself and serve other people. That’s why missionaries are happy.
- It’s important to tell somebody that you’re really struggling. I have a friend that texted me her situation and said she was struggling. So, through this group chat we told her if she’s having these thoughts then she needed to do something about it. So, getting it out or writing it in a journal, or just telling someone.
Getting help, talking to people, talking to your friends, making friends, making yourself go out to lunch with somebody. We also have to work on our relationship with our spouse, especially if we’re separated a lot due to work or whatever. We have to figure out ways to come together again, how to communicate and talk. I read this article that said one thing we can do is to tell our spouse, ‘I need you to talk to me for 15 minutes a day [if that is what you are wanting or needing] and then ask your spouse, ‘what do you need?’ Each of you can then start to see the needs of each other a little bit better.
- My daughter got remarried after being single a number of years, and she said something profound the other day. They decided that when someone says something to you and you hear something else- he may say ‘you look good today’ and she may hear ‘oh, I just look awful.’ Instead, she’ll say, ‘Ok, what I heard you say was _____’ and then she says what she heard. Then he can clarify. I thought that was a really good way to be able to communicate with someone you love.
That’s great- to restate what you think that they just said. It may be different or meant a different way. We can see things differently and that’s ok.
“After one thinks of himself as worthless, he then ofttimes turns to associates who corrode those delicate spiritual contacts, rendering their spiritual receiving antennas and transmitters useless. What good is it to associate with and ask advice of someone who is disoriented himself and only tells us what we want to hear? Isn’t it better to turn to loving parents and friends who can help us reach for and attain celestial goals?”
I see this a lot in teenagers. My husband teaches teenagers and when we talked about this, he said they all feel this way, they’re all struggling for their identity, they all have some self-esteem issues, they’re all striving to feel loved and accepted. It’s a hard time and it’s really easy for our teenagers and our youth to turn to friends who aren’t that great, because the friends make them feel accepted and loved, so they might turn in the wrong direction and get the wrong kind of validation, but they think it’s good.
I think one of the best ways to combat that is to teach your child that they are a child of God. How can we help our children to have that relationship with their Savior? Because that’s the validation they need. Heavenly Father loves them no matter what and then they can feel ok about themselves. They can make it through all of those rough waters. It’s hard and there’s not always an answer and sometimes kids won’t listen, or they won’t choose that path, so they have to take a harder path. We need to try the best we can with all of our teenagers and ourselves, to go to the Lord for our validation. Don’t go to Facebook, don’t go to sources that don’t really help. Go to Him and develop a relationship with our Savior.
As I do dishes in the morning, I’ve been listening to the Book of Mormon and usually there’s a thought, some message in there that really does apply to me. The Lord gave us the Book of Mormon for us, for right now to help us, to save us, to get us out of those the trials that we struggle with. He gave us ways to get out and we can do that.
- Five weeks ago, I lost a cousin and she is my best friend. She has four kids and she’s a year younger than I am. She went to sleep one night and just didn’t wake up the next morning. It has been a shock to all of us. It has really impressed me to watch her family go through this experience. When we found out, I think we all felt shocked and surprised and maybe even a little bit angry. My cousin’s father is the kind of person that anytime something happens, he’ll say, ‘don’t let this shake your faith. The Lord has a plan.’ This is the first time that I have ever seen his faith be shaken a little bit. He admitted it and he said he had a couple of really rough days. But he also said, ‘we can’t stay in that dark place for too long. We can’t stay on our own in isolation for too long because then we can get stuck in the dark places and we can forget how to ask for help. We may forget what the light of Christ looks like. It’s been interesting see, she has seven siblings and see all of them go through this. It has really bonded the family and they’re even closer than they were before. Even though it shook his faith, even for the blink of an eye, he has turned to the Lord and spent a lot of time praying and reading his scriptures, not looking for answers to why she is gone, but to restore his faith in God. I feel like as parents, if we’re going to teach that to our kids, that when hard things happen that we don’t understand, I think we have to turn to the Lord. We have to be able to accept the fact that we’re not going to have all the answers and sometimes really horrible, awful, crappy things can happen. We have to trust that the Lord is looking after us. In the hard times, if we can do that as parents, our kids will see that.
I think the way Elder Hales talks, he has experienced a lot of this stuff himself. He seems to have lived it. His wife and family have chosen the ways to get out of it.
One last thought, “A hermit is one who suffers from the extreme of selfishness; he neutralizes all the gifts and talents which he has been given in this life to help others, for he is going the adversary’s cunning way. Loneliness and withdrawal take us as a pawn off the board in the game of life.”
You don’t relate to others when you’re withdrawn and we probably don’t think of it as selfishness, but it really is. We need others and others need us. Others need us in the church. I tell my married kids, ‘you need to serve. Other people need you. It goes both ways. You need to help others and others need to help you.’
He said, “[…] the greatest joy we will receive will be those acts of love and service that we do for others.” And that we can accept acts of service. I know that we can get help from the right sources if we will turn to our Heavenly Father and ask for the help we need from others and from the Lord and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Challenge for this next 3 weeks:
Become friends with a sister that is your neighbor, your ministering companion, or with a sister you minister to.
Plan an activity with this new friend- a walk in the park while the kids play, lunch together, or venture out to shop together in Logan! Any activity that you can do together.
Pray for opportunities to serve the sisters within your realm of influence.
If the opportunity arises, allow someone else to serve you or minister to you.
Journal the above experiences and look for ways that making a friend and spending time with her has opened up your mind and heart and blessed your life.
NEXT WEEK: 5th Sunday Combined meeting with priesthood. The next weekend, Oct 6-7 will be General Conference. Looking ahead: Oct 14 Fast Sunday Council Mtg Topic Discussion, “How can we be more involved in family history work and temple worship?”