While studying the recent general conference talks, I was struck by something Elder Dale G. Renlund said about remembering the gifts of God. I love studying the talks after the fact, because I often learn things that I missed while listening to them live. Elder Renlund reminded us that we are given many gifts, the least of which is the gift of Christ’s Atonement. He explained that when we remember the gifts of God, each of us can be made into a better person.
“Every time we use, benefit from, or even think of these gifts, we ought to consider the sacrifice, generosity, and compassion of the givers. Reverence for the givers does more than just make us grateful. Reflecting on Their gifts can and should transform us” (Elder Dale G. Renlund, “Consider the Goodness and Greatness of God,” Apr. 2020 General Conference).
Elder Renlund reminded us of the transformation of Alma the Younger as he remembered the goodness of God (Alma 36:2, 36:27-29). Alma had been as far away from God as he could be and, in fact, had been working diligently to cause pain to those in His church. Yet, as an angel helped him to remember the goodness of God, he was completely transformed into a new man with a new heart who spent the rest of his mortal life doing good.
What struck me in Elder Renlund’s talk was that he said even new hearts can begin to wander away from the truth. He said that we could fight this tendency by remembering every day our gifts from God.
To fight this tendency, we need to reflect every day on the gifts we have received and on what they entailed. … If we do so, we qualify for remarkable heavenly blessings.
Reflecting on God’s goodness and mercy helps us become more spiritually receptive. In turn, increased spiritual sensitivity allows us to come to know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost. … When we remember the greatness of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and what They have done for us, we will not take Them for granted…. (Id.)
It reminded me of something that happened to me many years ago. I had not been active in the church for many years, leaving when I was 17 years old. I was young and very bitter about some things that had happened in my past. I wasn’t as far gone as Alma the Younger, and I still had a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, but I had no intention of going back to church. As I married and began to raise my children, I taught them gospel principles in our home, and they attended church with their father. There were three distinct things that happened that eventually brought me back to church—the first was remembering the goodness of God.
We had three wonderful children and wanted to increase our family once more. Suddenly, there was an infertility issue that had not previously existed. After struggling with this for some time, and with the help of modern medicine, we were blessed to have our fourth child. One day, while holding my sweet baby girl in my arms, I realized that she was truly a great gift from God. The process of remembering this great gift started me on the road back. Not long after this happened, my son told me he wanted to be baptized. He bore sweet testimony to me which again jarred my soul. The third incident was receiving a direct answer to prayer as I drove my vehicle down the freeway. While each of these three incidents are probably worthy of their own article, suffice it to say that each had its own role in bringing me back to the covenants I made at baptism, and each marked the path to sealing our family in the temple. It all began with remembering the goodness of God.
While we all collectively receive the gift of this beautiful earth, the moon, and the stars from our Heavenly Father, each of us also receives great gifts from God that are specifically designed just for us. We can choose to ignore these gifts and let them go to waste, or to remember from whence they came and use them as a tool to return to our Heavenly Father. While I’m known for my stubborn nature, I was smart enough to realize that if I chose to ignore these precious gifts from God, I might as well shoot myself in the foot. Remembering God’s gifts was a choice I needed to make in order to return to Him.
Coming back to church was not easy, and there were struggles along the way. Even today, all these years later, there are times when the weaker part of me wants to take over. The process of remembering the goodness of God is an ongoing challenge—but a challenge worth taking. As I remember His gifts, I become more determined to stay on the covenant path that leads me to 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.