Last night as I was sitting on the pew learning about the gospel from one of my friends the thought occurred to me of how truly blessed I am to know about and be able to participate in the institute program of the church. (This is a weekly class for adults that focuses on the teachings of Jesus Christ and real life application.) As I was pondering, the Lord helped me to see how this program has been a gift in my life, and I was led to reflect on specific instances where I received revelation. It helped me to see that, for me, institute has meant renewed faith, energy, and excitement in living the gospel as I am able to discuss and truly feast upon the good things of God.
First, my reflections led me to a couple of recent lessons. My friend Rob was teaching us about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how it can help us to make weak things become strong. The thought struck me so deeply that this little piece of knowledge was a gift from God, reminding me that the concerns and questions on my mind could be solved as I turned to the Savior and His power. Other thoughts also came and questions were answered. I thought back to the lesson last week. My friend Cassidy had been teaching about the moral force of men and women. Specifically, she reminded us of all the positive things that we could accomplish in the world if we chose to be moral. I laughed out loud to myself as I thought how peculiar it is that a group of 200 young adults are sitting in a room talking about the value of morals! (Peculiar in a good way!)
Second, I thought of the value of small group discussions. These have been some of my favorite moments. I have learned more about the people I care for. I have come to understand the power of their testimonies. I have thought of the gospel in new ways and learned specifically how to use its power! In these discussions, I have also learned the concerns of some of my friends which has helped me to pray more effectively for them. As we tackle gospel topics, everyone’s input becomes like a piece of the puzzle to help me understand and gain a witness of the concept for myself.
Next, my thoughts went to my friends. I know why I go to institute each week, but I wondered, what keeps them attending even though life is busy and full of so many other things to do each week. Of course among the top reasons was the wide spread of food that is easily obtainable at such events. Let’s face it, the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach; the same is true for women too. There is a particular liking to Pizza and chocolate milk, but there is a depth to their answers that was impactful to me, so with permission I share them with you:
“Well, I’ve always been instructed that while a college student I need to either be taking a religion class or attending institute every semester. Also, I like the camaraderie with our ward group that goes. I think the other reason I go is best illustrated by the scriptural imagery of ascending to the mountain of the Lord (Isaiah 2:2-3 among other citations.) Institute is an opportunity to rise above the daily routine, obtain a more elevated perspective and be strengthened from a pure, wholesome and separated activity” (Bradley Stewart).
“I think I often go because I feel the need to be social or to be uplifted. I know that it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes I go because I think I might find an answer to a prayer, other times I go out of obligation. But mostly I think I go because I know that only good will come from going to institute” (Mary Elizabeth Hammond).
“I originally started going to institute in Oregon because they gave us free pizza (who doesn’t love free food) but the more I went, the more I loved feeling the spirit and being enlightened by the various topics and articles we read. Now I go because it gives me that spiritual boost that I need midweek to help me make it through the rest of the week” (Traci Fergus).
A member of my stake presidency gave a beautiful summary of how my friends and I see institute. “Institute is not only a bridge between spiritual feasts, but a stairway to heaven” President Stephen Owen. It really is a step that helps us have the power to make it through the week. It is a temporal feast at times yes, but it is also a spiritual feast! This fulfills a blessing given to us from President Monson. He said, “I promise you that as you participate in institute and study the scriptures diligently, your power to avoid temptation and to receive the direction of the Holy Ghost in all you do will be increased.”
For one hour each Wednesday, in the middle of my week, I sit and listen, not just to the person teaching the class, but to the spirit. That hour has become sacred time for me and I am eternally thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who is willing to teach me these good things. I have personally felt of that power, and witnessed it my life as well as in the life of many of my friends.
Learn more about Institute of Religion.
Ashley Dewey is extremely talented at being single. Hobbies include awkward conversations with members of the opposite sex, repelling third dates, talking to boys about their girl problems and to girls about their boy problems. In her spare time she also has a very fulfilling school life, work life, and social life. Besides being a professional single, Ashley is also a BYU graduate with a degree in linguistics (Aka word nerd). She enjoys studying other languages, particularly American Sign Language, and finds most all of them fascinating. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. Ashley works most of the time and has often been accused of being a workaholic. Currently she works full time as a merchandiser and supervisor in a retail store, and part time doing social media work. On her day off she works (really it doesn't feel like work) in the Provo LDS temple. The only kind of work she finds difficulty focusing on is house work. Her favorite activities in her free time are reading, writing, creating social experiments, and spending time with great friends and family. Specific activities with those family and friends include: going to concerts, plays, dance recitals, BYU basketball and football games, and watching sports on television.