“Practicing” Living the Gospel…

baseballI was searching for a few verses regarding the law of chastity (for a lesson) a few days ago and came across a very, very hopeful verse.

In March of 1831, the Lord admonished Joseph with these words:

“And ye must practice virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen.” (D&C 46:33)

The obviously important word might be “continually”. But the word that stood out to me was “practice”. Surely, there is a chance that the word practice can be understood like “practicing medicine” and that makes sense to me. But I love the idea of practicing, as in “I’m going to go out and practicing hitting a baseball.”

If I played baseball this weekend and only hit the ball once in four at-bats, I would feel a bit discouraged (which is normal), but I think I would spend this next week practicing my hitting. I’d analyze what wasn’t working for me. I’d determine what adjustments could be made. I’d set some goals and I would go into next week’s game with some realistic expectations about my hitting. After hitting the ball twice in four at-bats, I’d celebrate my improvement and would adjust my next week’s practice. Luckily, since most baseball seasons consist of 162 games, I have some time to practice. I have the whole season to “practice batting…continually”.

Years ago, while serving as bishop in our ward, a ward member and I talked about some failures he had experienced with a certain aspect of the law of chastity. He had struggled for years — over a decade — with this problem. After our first meeting, he went roughly two weeks living a virtuous life. Then he fell back into the old pattern. He came right in a visited with me, sharing his struggles. He was surprised when I congratulated him on his success. I explained that after more than a decade of struggling, almost daily, with keeping this commandment, he had gone two entire weeks with success. That was a new triumph. And, he had time to improve. I wasn’t suggesting that he go too easy on himself for breaking a commandment. But I was suggesting that he allow himself some time for improvement. After all, for him, we were only halfway through the season. 80 games to go.

You and I have a little time. We have time to practice being who we want to be and who God wants us to be. We may be batting .147 today, but we can practice, train, learn, grow, and bat .300 by next month. And .350 in a year. And we can bat .400 soon enough.

I’m not advocating turning a blind eye to our sins or poor choices. I am thinking that life is, in part, about practicing.

Practice forgiving. Practice being patient. Practice being a good spouse or parent or child or sibling or neighbor. Practice keeping your thoughts clean. Practice. You’re not going to be perfect. You’re not going to hit every pitch today. But you and I can practice…

Be encouraging…

BJM

These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...
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4 thoughts on ““Practicing” Living the Gospel…

  1. Wayne Abernathy

    There is wisdom here. The Lord gave us a lifetime to get ready. There is not a moment to waste by putting things off, but for most of us the final exam is not here yet, there is time to prepare and work on ourselves to get better. In fact, for us all, the growing and achieving is something for every day, with the opportunities for victories every day, and opportunities to rebound from failures. That is part of the power of the atonement. The Lord makes it clear that there is no tolerance for sin, which is why He gives us the opportunity to rebound from sin and not allow sin to discourage us and bind us down. Each blessed day is an opportunity to rise above and do better.

    Reply
  2. Anthony in Minneapolis

    This was just what I needed to read tonight. Thank you for sharing! Reminds me of that Elder Wirthlin quote: “We don’t have to be perfect today. We don’t have to be better than someone else. All we have to do is to be the very best we can.” Talk here: http://www.lds.org/ensign/2001/11/one-step-after-another

    Also, if top athletes and musicians need 10,000 hours of practice to become really good at what they do, then by the end of our lives we should be pretty good at being kind, forgiving, and loving to our families and fellow saints (and hopefully everyone else we associate with too), for we’ll have plenty of hours. Whether or not we use those hours “practicing,” as you say, is a different story.

    Reply

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