This week I have been thinking a lot about the prophet Joseph Smith. I decided to examine Joseph Smith History Chapter 1. Verses 8-17 read:
8 During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.
9 My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.
10 In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?
11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.
14 So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
While reading I was overcome with great admiration for Joseph. He was prepared at the age of 14 to meet our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Contemplating that thought allowed me to reflect on my own life. Is what I’m doing now getting me closer to where I want to be tomorrow?
Elder Richard G. Scott gave us some great advice: “Think of the long view of life, not just what’s going to happen today or tomorrow. Don’t give up what you most want in life for something you think you want now.” I decided to take a moment and reflect on my life with the small, day-to-day decisions I make.
Example #1: Should I dress modestly?
One question we face every day is “What should I wear today?” Well for young women, this is a complicated decision. Modesty may not seem very significant, but in the long run, it is. Modesty emulates who we are as a people, and we can determine a lot by the way someone dresses. Thankfully being at BYU, that temptation isn’t as strong.
Example #2: Who will I hang out with today?
Who are we hanging out with and what kind of an impact are they having on us?
In the For the Strength of Youth it says, “To have good friends, be a good friend.” It also says, “[Friends] will influence how you think and act, and even help determine the person you will become. They will help you be a better person and will make it easier for you to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Friends really do have the greatest impact on us – whether it be for the good or bad. They ultimately determine who we will become as a people. We need to choose our friends wisely and seek to be a good friend.
Example #3: How long will I spend on social media?
I think we, myself included, waste so much time on social media. Seriously, how often do we look at Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, or other apps? Daily? Multiple times a day? How many of us put aside our homework and scroll through our feeds? I am definitely charged as guilty.
At times we need a wake up call. We may need to make some changes. These can be used as helpful tools and a good source social relaxation, but I’ve found that it must be done in moderation.
Elder M. Russell Ballard has said, “Handheld devices, such as smartphones, are a blessing, but they can also distract us from hearing the ‘still, small voice.’ They need to be our servants, not our masters.“
Another thing to think about is who do we follow? What appears on our feed? What do we favorite? Elder David A. Bednar asked, “Who will people decide you are if all they know is what is on your social media page?” That is a good question for each of us to consider.
Overall, I am grateful for the “wake up” call I had through reading and studying Joseph Smith. I want to be completely ready when it is my time to meet my Savior, and I know that as I strive to better my life that I will come closer to that goal.