When I was a little girl, I used to play for hours in our family’s little nativity. I carefully moved Mary and Joseph around the stable. The wise men had to be placed in such a way that they didn’t obstruct the view of the baby Jesus. The animals were all looking at Jesus. Jesus was placed exactly in the center of the stable. It was important to me that the focus of the nativity be on baby Jesus.
My fascination with nativities stayed with me throughout my life. We have several nativities in our home, and I’m just as particular about the placement now as I was all those years ago. This year as I set up the nativity sets, I began thinking about how I could improve the focus of the Savior in my life. Is it possible to be just as particular about the placement of Jesus in my heart as in our family’s nativity sets? Is Christ the center of my life?
As the year ends and a new year is about to begin, most of us are thinking about our goals and making resolutions. My goal for 2019 is to be as particular about placing Christ in the center of my life and my heart as I am about placing Him in the center of our nativity sets. It occurs to me that the new Church curriculum, coupled with the shortened meetings, gives me the perfect opportunity to make that happen. My study habits over the years have left a lot to be desired. There is definite need for improvement. With the focus of gospel learning being shifted to the home, I’m now faced with the responsibility of my own spiritual self-reliance.
The Savior is asking me to “come unto Him,” and this is the time to decide what that really means. I have believed in the Savior, I have tried to follow His teachings, and I have prayed to Heavenly Father in His name. I’ve thought about the Savior as my older brother and advocate. He has been my friend and confidant. Now it is time to find the level of my commitment. Will I “come unto Him,” or will I flounder and get lost because I’m too lazy to put in the work? How committed am I to studying the gospel on my own? Will I find other things to do with my time, or will I do the work necessary to become a true disciple of Christ? Will I walk the walk, or simply talk the talk?
I’ll be honest here and tell you that studying on my own has always been hard for me. There is so much that I don’t understand. It has been encouraged by our leaders that we get together as groups for scripture study. Recently, I brought this up in a classroom setting, and the idea was not well received. I was discouraged to think I would have to struggle with this on my own. On December 16th, however, our stake president spoke in our sacrament meeting and announced there will be a new adult institute class beginning in January that he will personally be teaching about the book of Revelations. Our stake president is a wonderful scriptorian and teacher, and I’ve always wanted to study Revelations in detail, as it is something that piques my interest.
The first emotion at the announcement of the study group was excitement. The second emotion was Satan-inspired as sadness because that night of the week is a “good TV night.” Really? That was really my second thought? Obviously, I have some work to do on my level of commitment to “come unto Him.”
Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and I truly do try to make Christ the center of my thoughts and actions. I try to make Him the reason for the celebration. When we were raising our children, we did the 12 days of Christmas as a family to show love to someone every year. The children made little crafts and we baked together. They spent all year thinking about who would be the recipient of our gifts, and then we decided as a family a couple of weeks before Christmas. In 2018, my husband and I decided to do something a bit different, as our children are grown and no longer at home. We did the 12 months of Christmas. Each month in 2018, we picked a project of service or an act of charity. It was a very enjoyable thing to do, but more importantly, it helped to keep Christ in the center of our lives all year long.
I don’t know yet how my husband and I will approach the new two-hour church block and new curriculum study. We have discussed the idea of inviting ourselves into our children’s homes for gospel study (Skype for the one who lives far away). That would give us a chance to become closer to our children and grandchildren, keep our children accountable for teaching our grandchildren, and keep ourselves accountable for studying outside of the church building. It remains to be seen if our children are amenable to the idea, and the level of commitment from all of us. If that doesn’t work, my husband and I will have to figure out something else to keep us focused on Christ and gospel study.
This Christmas, I hope we can all think about making Christ the center of our lives in a meaningful, powerful, and effective way. Christ is the center; we just have to stop moving away from Him.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.