Mountains to Climb--Elder Eyring Spring 2012 General Conference
Mountains in Bulgaria via Pinterest.
When I think of having mountains to climb I think of the pioneers—particularly the Martin Handcart Company. They faced absolutely horrific challenges---death, starvation, frozen limbs. Yet years later, when the timing and leadership of the company was being criticized in a Sunday School class, a member of that company, Francis Webster, stood up and protested, “We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with Him in our extremities!...Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No! Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.”
Trials in life can either be a privileged opportunity or a depressing sinkhole. Today I have three things which can help us not just endure trials, but conquer life’s mountains that are sent to us. These things are 1-having Faith in God; 2-Using the Atonement of Christ; 3-Believing in Ourselves.
Faith in God
I began taking ballet lessons when I was four years old, and it was a huge part of my life. Then, when I was seventeen, I abruptly stopped because I was very frustrated with it. After I quit, I was also frustrated with myself for not only being so bad at ballet, but also for giving up at it. At the time it seemed like a heart-breaking change in my life. One day, I was crying in my room because I missed ballet so much and wanted so badly to be a beautiful dancer. I picked up my scriptures to move them, and out fell this card. I was astonished, because it is a picture of a little girl in her ballet leotard and tights, carefully tying on her ballet shoes. I flipped the card over, and read, “Because I am God’s child, He shows me the way to my dreams.”
This card had been given to me by a primary teacher years before, and yet it managed to fall right in front of me right when I needed it most. I know Heavenly Father sent that card to me to let me know that He loved me. He knew I was sad, but everything was going to be okay because He had a plan. Its like He was saying, “Little Becca, its going to be okay. Just have a little bit of faith, and everything is going to be fine. I’m your Heavnely Father, I love you, and I’m going to take care of you.”
This experience has always been a reminder to me to have a little more faith because I know that Heavenly Father loves me, and that He has a plan for me. He loves to see us smile and laugh, but at the same time, he needs us to become more than what we presently are, and so He allows mountains to climb to enter into our lives. But with His help, our mountains can become our triumphs and we can have eternal joy with our Father. We just need to have faith.
Use the Atonement
When we have faith in God, our faith will lead us to action. But often our efforts are not enough, and so we need to rely on our Savior Jesus Christ.
One of my favorite words is grace. In the bible dictionary it says “It is through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means.”
You see, the grace of Christ can save us each day, in each struggle that we have, when our own efforts are not enough. This is why the scriptures say that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. If we turn our hearts to the Savior and ask for His grace, we can have His strength help us every day of our lives. And when we do this, we will have the strength to truly repent and be born again through Christ. When we use grace we can conquer our trials with hope in the Atonement and Resurrection. And when we are broken, grace can heal our souls.
I have felt the power of Christ’s atonement in my life. It has healed my heart. It has enabled me to rise above my sins. It has given me the power to change and to be happy. Christ is my joy and my song. My life is so much better when I strive to incorporate Christ’s grace into my daily activity. He is the light and life of the world.
Believe in Ourselves
This is something I’ve really had to strive to learn—and still too often forget. God gave His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, for the sole reason that He loved us. He made this enormous sacrifice, felt the pain of watching His son be rejected and crucified, because of His love for His fallen children—us—so that we can be redeemed and live with Him again. God sent His Son because He BELIEVES in us.
One of my favorite scripture stories is of Moses after he was transfigured and saw a vision of all the works of God. After his transfiguration, he said “Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I had never supposed.” Then Satan came and tempted him saying, “Moses, son of man, worship me.” And then “Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?”
By seeing the great works of God Moses was humbled, and simultaneously he was able to recognize his worth because he had witnessed God’s love for him.
Humility is not a disavowal of our worth, but rather, it is the sober realization of how much we are valued by God.
We need to be more humble. We need to recognize our worth. Once we are able to do this, we will be motivated to fill our potential and be able to successfully climb our mountains.
My Mountains to Climb
The past few months I have been blown away by new mountains I have to climb. Before May, I thought I was not going to go on a mission. I was studying at BYU to become a Chinese teacher. You see, when I was 12 I took my first Chinese class and fell head over heels in love with China. It was like the gears of my just fell into place and I just love China. And more than anything in the entire world, I want Chinese people to be able to be taught Gospel and participate openly in the Church. This is why I decided to become a Chinese teacher---I figured I could teach young men and young women Chinese so that when someday China is opened to missionary work, there would be some youth who already had experience and a love for China.
Then, I felt urgently that I should go on a mission. I turned in my papers, and waited, so excited to hear where I was going to go. I honestly thought that I would go somewhere Mandarin speaking, or possibly somewhere in Asia where there would no doubt be a great deal of Chinese people. Then I opened my call—Sister Stenquist, you have been called to serve in the Bulgaria, Sofia mission, speaking Bulgarian. I honestly bursted out laughing when I read I was going to Bulgaria. I was so thrilled and shocked.
Later, as it sunk in that I was going to Bulgaria for 18 months, speaking Bulgarian, I realized that this meant I had huge mountains to climb. Not only do I need to go to Bulgaria, learn Bulgarian, and dedicate my whole life to missionary work. Then, when I return from my mission, I will need to piece together my already struggling Chinese and figure out how to pass the rest of my Chinese classes. Ouch. This sounds daunting to me.
Then my mountains got bigger. I went to China for two months to study Chinese. There I realized that I am less fluent than a four-year-old. It dawned on me that it was pretty much possible for me to pass the Chinese test to become a licensed Chinese teacher. So, all of my education and career plans went flying out the window. This has been hard for me to accept and hard for me to figure out what to do with my life.
So currently, I don’t exactly know what I am going to major in when I get back to Bulgaria; nor do I know what I want to do in life. But, I know that I am a daughter of God. I know that He loves me. I know that I am supposed to go Bulgaria and that serving my mission is going to be the most wonderful and difficult thing I’ve ever done. And I have no idea what the future holds for me, but I know that my Savior lives and that He is always there to help me climb my mountains. I know that with my Heavenly Father and with Christ, I can climb any mountain in my life. There is nothing to fear with them by my side.
I absolutely know that God loves His Children and that Jesus is the Christ. I know that Joseph Smith restored Christ’s church to this earth and it is this Church. I know that President Monson leads the Church with the correct authority and keys from Christ. And I am so excited to go to Bulgaria and share my testimony with the wonderful people there.
I say these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.