Does anyone else feel like a motivation battle begins every time the morning alarm goes off? I feel this incessant pull between “need tos,” “shoulds,” “want tos,” and where I ultimately say I want to be. I’d love to live intentionally. I have wonderful, awesome intentions, but by the end of January/beginning of February, they’re getting tossed to the back burner in favor of survival.
I don’t remember the agency turbulence being quite so strong, but, currently, every weekday I’m studying and teaching about God’s plan to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life. My belief and faith in His work and grace has never been stronger and neither has my view of my weaknesses and tendencies to mediocrity.
So when the alarm goes off daily (in what feels like the middle of the night), I experience this beautiful burst of energy, spirit, and passion. Then around 8:00 am, I come home to recover from a lack of quality sleep and stare at the gap between what I believe and where I personally am.
O Wretched Man That I Am
I feel a camaraderie with Paul and Nephi, though undeserved, in acknowledging my wretched state.
Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
Now if I do that, through the assistance of Christ, I would not do under the law, I am not under the law; and it is no more that I seek to do wrong, but to subdue sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then that under the law, that when I would do good evil was present with me; for I delight in the law of God after the inward man.
And now I see another law, even the commandment of Christ, and it is imprinted in my mind.
But my members are warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Motivation I Can Relate To
The scriptures generally motivate me to keep pressing forward despite how I feel. Here’s two of my very favorites:
[S]hall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage…and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.
[H]e knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
Today, examining the lives of my heroes who eternally rose up to follow the Lord and save the day, felt a little overwhelming. I needed a different approach to motivation. I needed to find myself, as I was feeling right now, in the scriptures today. Was I there?
I sat still for a moment while my mind perused the scriptures I love so well.
Motivation via Eliab
I suddenly saw myself in the valley of Elah. My little brother had come from the flocks to bring food and get tidings of our well-being for our father. He heard the giant defaming the Lord. He looked at me, incredulous that I did nothing. But what was I supposed to do? Goliath’s a giant! How could I make a difference? The Lord could smite Goliath in an instant. I’m sure the Lord expected me to stay safe and be a living servant, not a dead one!
And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?
And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him.
And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?
Just the chapter before, Samuel chose Eliab from Jesse’s sons as the Lord’s anointed.
And it came to pass, when they were come, that [Samuel] looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.
But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
I’m sure Eliab was an awesome guy. He did his duty. He fought valiantly. But according to his angry response to David’s courage and faith, Eliab showed that he really didn’t “know” things that mattered eternally. That encounter provided his only recorded words.
Motivation via Laman
As the oldest of eight children, I read stories about oldest kids like Eliab and Laman carefully. The Savior is the Firstborn of the Father. In a patriarchal society, the birthright responsibility and inheritance is passed from father to firstborn son. The father expected the firstborn son to step up—yet so many oldest sons throughout the scriptures didn’t step up.
I saw myself in a cave outside Jerusalem’s walls. I’d just run for my life a second time. I went to ask Laban for the plates of brass after the Lord’s lot chose me for the task. Laban refused to give me the plates and threatened my life. I barely made it out of there alive. When I found my brothers, I explained what happened. They were really scared—as they should be! And then Nephi told us we should try again?! Wasn’t he listening to what I just said?
Somehow I let Nephi talk me into trying again. He said the Lord would give us the plates. We took our treasure to buy the plates of brass from Laban. He threatened our lives again and stole our stuff!
How humiliating! Why did I ever listen to my younger brother?! And why won’t he listen to me?
And it came to pass that Laman was angry with me, and also with my father; and also was Lemuel, for he hearkened unto the words of Laman. Wherefore Laman and Lemuel did speak many hard words unto us, their younger brothers, and they did smite us even with a rod.
And it came to pass as they smote us with a rod, behold, an angel of the Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them, saying: Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod? Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities? Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands.
And after the angel had spoken unto us, he departed.
And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?
The Lord is the Deliverer
Laman, while physically obedient to the command to go to Jerusalem and even to the lot choice, failed because he didn’t believe the Lord could or would deliver them.
Like Laman, Eliab believed in the Lord, but didn’t have faith in His delivering capacities either.
I wonder if either of them prayed about their obstacle or if they just headed in knowing the Lord had commanded something, and they showed up. Sometimes I obediently show up and immediately request a medal just for doing so.
Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
David and Nephi understood. Not only did they know how to hear and follow divine revelation, they knew:
At the outset, Eliab and Laman both showed up. A prophet initially assumed the Lord would choose Eliab as king. The Lord actually selected Laman as the first round pick for plate procurement.
“No one is destined to fail,” promised President Henry B. Eyring.
Today, these men taught me that showing up is the first step. The second step after showing up is to turn all of that “showing up” effort over to God to become His instrument.
Reflecting on Eliab and Laman motivated me to look to those who actually took that second step.
Therefore, dearly beloved . . . let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.
We need to:
Do all things in our power and then stand still like David slaying Goliath and delivering Israel, and Nephi slaying Laban and delivering the plates of brass.
Do all things in our power and then stand still with the utmost assurance like Moses dividing the Red Sea, Noah boarding the ark, or Elisha single-handedly conquering the Syrian army.
Do all things in our power and then stand still with the utmost assurance to see the salvation of God, like Esther kneeling before King Ahasuerus, Deborah leading Barak’s army, and Mary humbly accepting Gabriel’s annunciation.
These people—ordinary people turned heroes and heroines—showed up and then became God’s instruments.
And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?
And I feel infused with motivation again. I hope you do, too.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.