"Each of us can have eyes to see clearly and ears to hear distinctly the tender mercies of the Lord as they strengthen and assist us in these latter days."
-David A. Bednar-

I've recently been pondering on blessings and, more specifically, what goes into receiving blessings.

We know that through obedience to the commandments, to our covenants we make when we are baptized, when we go through the temple, when we marry our eternal companion [just to name a few]; that we receive an outpouring of blessings from our Heavenly Father. We receive protection from the adversary, happiness, true joy. Our families are strengthened when we are living the Gospel and the doctrine that goes along with it. 

But how often do each of us really sit down and think about all the blessings we have actually received?

Brigham Young said the following:

"God never bestows upon His people, or upon an individual, superior blessings without a severe trial to prove them, to prove that individual, or that people, to see whether they will keep their covenants with Him, and keep in remembrance what He has shown them."

We all know that this mortal life is meant as a time for us to be tried and tested, to grow from those trials and to become stronger sons and daughters of God. To prove our faith so that we can return to our Heavenly Father and be with Him [and with our families via sealing in the temple] for eternity.

Think of it like this: A blessing can be seen as the sunlight after the dark of night. In our lives, we all go through periods of darkness [trials] and, when we hold strong, when we call upon God for strength and we persevere through the darkness, all of a sudden, the sun shines on us [blessings are given to us] and gets rid of the darkness.

Time to get personal. Growing up, I never understood the importance of the Gospel. I didn't think I needed to go to church every week; I hardly ever read the scriptures; prayer was a once every few days sort of thing. But as I approached my 19th birthday, I decided to go on a mission. 

Before my mission, I went through the temple to receive my endowment. When you receive your endowment, you make covenants with God, and in return, promise to wear a garment under your clothing. The garment provides protection against temptation and evil. Wearing the garment is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior.

Fast forward a few months. I was severely ill on my mission and was trying to decide if I should come home or not. I got the impression, after prayer, that I needed to be at home, with my family. Less than a year after coming home, my brother's mortal journey came to an end. 

After his death, I was in a bad place and got very lazy in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was ignoring those covenants I made with God, not always wearing my garments, not attending church regularly, not praying or reading scriptures regularly, not doing all the things that God has instructed us to do; and my life took a hit.

By not doing the things I knew, deep down, I needed to be doing, I was not receiving blessings. I felt like I was in a dark tunnel and there was no light.

Fast forward again: I made efforts to do those things, but only halfheartedly, and while things got slightly better, they still weren't where I wanted them to be.

Last year I decided enough was enough. I buckled down and committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I started studying the scriptures, making a sincere effort to always attend church, to pray every morning and night [and sometimes a few times during the day as well]. I started studying the words of past Prophets, as well as studying the life of Jesus Christ. 

As I did these things, the sun proceeded to shine on me; blessings proceeded to flow freely from Heavenly Father.

To name a few: 
  • I was hired for an amazing job. A job that came out of nowhere.
  • I found the perfect apartment.
  • I felt joy.
  • I made great strides in conquering my anxiety
But none of these compared to the greatest blessing I received.

During those "dark times", when I did pray, one thing I prayed for was to meet the girl I should marry. But guess what? She never came. I went on a lot of dates, but none of them felt like the girl I was supposed to be married to for eternity.

What I now realize is ... why would Heavenly Father bless your life with your eternal spouse when you aren't living up to your covenants, when you aren't going to church the way you should be, when you aren't praying regularly or studying the scriptures daily...

When I straightened out my priorities and focused on those things I promised my Heavenly Father I would do ... she came into my life. I did a previous post about our engagement story, so I won't re-tell it, but Taylore changed my life. She has been a HUGE blessing. 

I went through some pretty bad trials. My brother was called back to Heaven early and I was angry at God, which led to the path I went down. But one thing I can now say is: There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There is always a sunrise at the end of the darkness.

(My brother passing isn't a trial. But the trials came afterwards, when I stopped doing the things I promised to God I would do.)

My institute director said something that stuck out to me the other night. This isn't an exact quote but...

"When you experience a severe trial, it means Heavenly Father wants to give you something more. But you have to prove you will be faithful. Don't complain, be grateful for the trial and the great things that lie at the end of them."

Don't get me wrong ... Life is hard. We all go through some really difficult things and it's ok if you aren't grateful for a trial. It's ok if you complain. But what you can't do is forsake your covenants and give up. NEVER GIVE UP.

Dale G. Renlund, during this past general conference, said the following:

"Most blessings that God desires to give us require action on our part—action based on our faith in Jesus Christ."

Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us and He has amazing blessings in store for us, if we will but act. Remember, He has promised that He will not try us with anything we cannot handle. He knows each of us personally and has a plan for each of us. So when a trial arises, have faith in Him, that He has an amazing blessing waiting in store for you. Do those things that bring you closer to Him and that provide you safety, peace and joy.

We all make mistakes. I will close with this.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ atones for all sins, all mistakes. If you slip up during a trial and feel beyond God's love and help ... I have one thing to say to you: YOU ARE NOT BEYOND GOD'S HELP OR BLESSINGS.

If you will just take action; open your scriptures and read, pray, repent, go to church, make the temple a priority ... God's hand will be in your life. You will be blessed and you will find joy again.

"Alma cried out for mercy, and his pains resolved; he was no longer harrowed up by the memory of his sins. His joy overwhelmed his pain - all because he cried out with faith in Jesus Christ."
-Dale G. Renlund-


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