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Gramps,

This really isn’t a question, more of a statement. After membership in the Mormon Church for more than 30 years and having served as president in many capacities and other callings, I have determined I can’t do it anymore. It’s become too difficult–for me–to keep all the commandments and also spend every day doing good works. It seems we hardly ever hear grace mentioned in the church and right now, I need some plain old grace. I now know that I will never make it to the celestial kingdom. I love service work, but in my heart I don’t believe that alone will get us into heaven (good works). I believe our hearts have a lot to do with that and some people simply find it too hard to do it all. It gets so wearisome. I love the Lord with all my heart, I just can’t stand the guilt when I don’t do it all.

Sue

 

Answer

 

Dear Sue,

You are not alone in your feelings. So many people feel the same way that you do. It’s very unfortunate, and it shouldn’t be. I’ve gone through the same experience myself, and ended up getting an ulcer. But I think that I finally learned how to control it. Perhaps a few suggestions may help. In the first place, not everyone can do everything all the time. Better said, not anyone can do everything all the time. We’re taught to never to say No to a calling. I believe that, but there are approaches that seem to be appropriate to use when such calls are issued. For example, if I felt that I were in over my head and were called by the bishop to do more, I think that I would tell the bishop all that I now had to do and what my feelings of being overwhelmed were. I would then say, “I have only this much time that I would be able to devote to this calling. If you would like me to serve under those conditions I would be willing to accept the call.” The wise bishop will immediately know the difficulties that are faced. However, it may be that among the available personnel your situation produces the least grief among the available alternatives. In that case the bishop would issue the call, and you could feel justified and comfortable in devoting no more time to it than you stated that you had available.

You state that you feel that you will never make it to the celestial kingdom, but then you state that you don’t believe that works alone will get us there. However, it’s because of all those imposed works that you feel that you will never make it. Our salvation depends more upon the thoughts of the heart and the state of the mind than it does on the man-hours of labor that we may perform. It’s because you love the Lord with all your heart that you feel guilty for not being able to do everything that you’re asked. Elder Richard L. Evans, who produced “the Spoken Word” during the tabernacle choir broadcast for many years, said the following–

“That we shall go quickly or that we shall perform spectacularly is not important, but that we shall safely and surely move from hour to hour and day to day, and that we shall not lose the way, are things vital to all men who would realize their highest possibilities.”

With respect to translating the plates of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was admonished by the Lord–

Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; but be diligent unto the end (D&C 10:4).

In response to this counsel from the Lord, Joseph did not immediately return to translating the plates, but instead spent his time working on a small farm which he had purchased from his wife’s father.

One suggestion of the order of priority in dividing our time between conflicting responsibilities would be to put our responsibility to provide for the temporal and spiritual welfare of our families as number 1 (that would include our employment to provide for the temporal welfare). Following those responsibilities I feel that we then should put what other time is available to filling our callings in the Church–all this to be done consistent with living in accordance with the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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