Thursday, September 19, 2013

From September 9, 2013: Priori-tease

I love that there's no such thing as a normal day as a missionary.  And I love talking to people on the streets of Phoenix and seeing what real life is to some of these people.  I love riding 22 miles in 115 degree sun.  Late on Friday night, riding my bike home after talking to homeless men at bus stops for a while, I realized that there is seriously nothing I would rather be doing on a Friday night than convincing a homeless man not to give up and to start over with Christ and not alcohol as the foundation of his life.  There's something beautiful about it.  Something wonderful about the simplicity of having nothing to do 24/7 than think about how to best bring other people to or back to Christ. 
I woke up this morning and realized I had been dreaming about reorganizing the area and how best to accomplish that, and also how best to coordinate with the senior couple in our ward.  Made my day and it was only 6:30 in the morning.  And I'm not being sarcastic.  I'm actually starting to love all of these things.  I live for it.  For the sweat that comes from hitting those 20 something miles in the heat, for the drenched and smiling mess I am in sacrament meeting after spending a half hour taking umbrellas to people in the parking lot in a monsoon, for the fearlessness with which we face down a guy who insists that we give him money instead of the Book of Mormon we maintain is way more valuable, for the bus stops we stop at and testify to.  I ate peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast and lunch the other day, and then we went to a member's house for dinner and they thought it would be fun to have a picnic with peanut butter sandwiches as the main course.  And I sincerely loved it.  It was a blast.  There's nothing better than being put in a newish area with a companion who has been out two transfers, basically a in-some-ways-clean slate and being told,"You're it.  Go."
With that setting in mind, let me once more give it up for the Preach My Gospel book.  It's almost like they knew what questions missionaries had and then decided to answer them in the simplest and most clear and straightforward terms possible.. OH WAIT, THEY DID DO THAT!  Great book.  Read it if you want your mind blown with things you should really know.  Because, you know, it's kind of important.
Ah, importance.  Isn't it great how I arrive at a point by rambling?  Let us study importance, purpose, and priorities today.
But first:  Bonus points to anyone who reads my thoughts by seeing what part sticks out to them about the "temples" entry in the Bible Dictionary.  Think homes.  Okay cool, it might change your life and the way you think about where you live and entering other people's homes.  And now I gave it all away, but really check it out 'cause I don't want to misquote.  Ok onward, and with luck, forward.
So you know I've been stuck on Lehi (Book of Mormon prophet) for a while.  Because Lehi is in a lot of ways the most normal person ever.  He's a guy who's bopping around trying to figure out how to keep his family together.  He's got a standout son (Nephi) and another son who kind of just tags along with Nephi and does ok, then he's got these grumbling and whining kids who don't really EVER get it despite his best efforts.  And Lehi has his own ups and downs and he's over there at the tree calling "Look, look I found it!  Come here, come here!!!" Right?  Right. 
But let us turn to 1 Nephi 11:17&22 and get some Nephi action going here.  Nephi bears the most humble and simple testimony in 17 and it's so cool.  He's been asked if he knows the condescension of God.  And what does he answer with?  In essence "Well, I know that God loves His children, but I don't know everything."  How simple is that testimony?  And yet after that testimony, look at all the knowledge and understanding he comes to receive - just off of that. 
 I know that God loves His children.  Think about what you can build off of that knowledge alone.  God loves His children.  Therefore creation.  Therefore atonement.  Therefore prophets and truth.  Therefore restoration.  Therefore evidence of a restoration = the Book of Mormon.  Therefore prayer.  Therefore personal revelation.  Therefore plan of salvation. Therefore commandments. Therefore EVERYTHING.  Based on what?  God loving His children. 
And then to verse 22, where Nephi calls the love of God THE MOST DESIRABLE OF ALL THINGS.  Now there is a man with his priorities in order.  As a missionary, it seems like the major problem I ride into time and again is a misplacement or disorganization of people's priorities.  If your priorities are out of order and the gospel isn't your list, or if it isn't even ON your list, I just must say I don't get it.  I don't see why not.  I've been trying to understand why people stop coming to church, why some people go astray, why some people DO come to church and just all of it.  And I think it all comes back to whether or not we fall into the trap of having the gospel be something you DO rather than what you ARE and what you try to BE.  And there is a huge difference there. 
So your essential question of the week is: Who are you trying to be and why?
As Thoreau said, "In the long run, men hit only what they aim at."  So at what are you aiming?   Who is it that you are trying to be?  Because if you don't know where exactly you are aiming and where exactly you are trying to get, you:
1. won't get where you want to be
2. will get somewhere and realize that isn't actually where you want to be and 
3. won't know how to live such that you get there

 If we hit only what we aim at, we first have to decide what it is we want to aim for.  Then aim there.  Then throw.  
It seems to me that what we do is determined by what is important to us.  And it seems that most people simply do not think about who they are trying to be and why, why they are doing what they are doing, and what they hope to accomplish in life.  What their purpose in life is.
We know that our purpose in life is to grow and progress and return to live with our Father in Heaven again, and inviting those around us to do the same.  But how are we actually striving to accomplish that?  
We have to keep our purpose front of mind always, for when we understand it and are genuinely committed to it, we come to understand what we are doing and why and our priorities fall into place accordingly.  

So, this week, write down your purpose.  Whatever you think it is.  Your vision for your life, who and what you want to be.  For some it is, "To make some money and have some fun until I die." But if it is truly, "To go and progress and live with my Father in Heaven for eternity," you may need to shift your life to match that.  Think, "What do I need to do today to be closer to that goal?"  And then work towards that every day.

Assignment:  Write down your priorities.  Your top ten.  Write your purpose at the top.  And then pray about what you can do today and every day to accomplish that purpose. 

I love you all.  You are all so special and so good.  Decide now to never fall away and to aim at what you truly want.  

Have a fantastic week.  I will too. 


Much love,

Elder Molinaro

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