You know that President Benson quote, “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can”? Have you ever wondered how to do that on a day-to-day basis?
I recently read a book that I consider to be a must-read for every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s called The Divine Center, by Stephen R. Covey. It addresses the confusion you sometimes feel as a member of the Church about the proper role of God, church, marriage, family, friends, making a living, and other things in our lives.
Have you ever heard someone say something at church or in conference that didn’t quite sit right with you? Did that person present his or her opinion as a general consensus or as an accepted doctrine, leaving you wondering if everyone else thought the same way and you were an outsider because you didn’t agree? Did you ever feel pressured to do something you didn’t feel right about inside? What do you do when you feel that way?
The answer given in The Divine Center sounds simple, and it can be, once you develop a trusting relationship with God: God is always first in your life, and He will let you know what to put second. And that won’t look the same for everyone. If you follow the Spirit and act in accordance with the guidance you receive, you will feel peaceful about your choice, regardless of how others respond. You will see God’s hand in your life as you move forward, acting on promptings you receive, and you will be amazed at what God is doing with you!
For example, a lot of aspiring Mormon women feel called to serve in the marketplace. Whether they are married or not, this can be a cultural challenge because of the emphasis placed on marriage and family. Many people see the role of motherhood as being a “full-time job.” The assumption is that if you’re doing it right, then you aren’t doing much of anything else, like spending a lot of time with your career. So, if you feel inspired, as I have, to dedicate tremendous amounts of time and energy on a mission you feel God has called you to do, how do you deal with the cultural feedback, silent or vocal, that what you’re doing is wrong?
You go back to God and make sure you’re on the right track, let His love and guidance strengthen you, and bask in the love and peace you feel, letting go of any concern that others may judge you for your choices. It’s not between you and them. It’s between you and God.
Putting God at the center of your life affects everything for the positive. It’s also possible to put things like marriage and family at the center of your life to your detriment, again, whether or not you are married. If your self-worth is based on your marital status, you’re on shaky ground, regardless of your marital status! There are obvious problems with being money-centered, possession-centered, pleasure-centered, friend-centered, and enemy-centered. But even becoming too centered on church activity and callings can be dangerous. The point is that the only abundant life is the life that is centered on God. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
While of course none of us is perfect, there are things each of us can do to always strive to be God-centered—especially when it comes down to the day-to-day time management needed to make our lives God-centered. Prayerfully planning my week ahead of time helps me sense what God would have my priorities be for that week. I schedule those priorities and then try to live flexibly, because I’ve noticed that the Spirit does a lot of in-the-moment guiding.
For example, a couple of Sundays ago, I woke up with this impression: Give your book to someone in the stake Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society presidencies. My response? “Okay.” I had no idea who was in the presidencies, how I would get their contact information, or how I would get them my book, but God knew, so I didn’t worry. And I was able to give them each a book within a week!
Recently, I prayed about what the Lord’s top priority for me to do that day was, and I felt I should email a former BYU professor of mine about a talk I’m developing. The working title is “12 Things from Church History that I Want My Kids to Know Before They Leave Home.” Actually, I want every member of the Church to know these things, which is why they’re all included in my book and I’m developing a separate talk on them. When I emailed my professor, I was shocked to get an immediate response! But, should I have been? The Lord knew my professor’s schedule. He knew when would be a great time for me to contact him so he’d get the email and have a chance to respond. Still, I find myself amazed that the Lord is involving Himself in the details of my life in such a visible way. It’s humbling and exhilarating at the same time.
I want to end with President Benson’s full quote:
Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 4).
So, go for it! Prayerfully ask if you are doing your best to put God at the center of your life and how you can do it even better, and then act on the guidance you receive. I can tell you from personal experience that as I strive to put God at the center of my life, it’s more adventurous and fulfilling than ever.
Christina Shelley Albrecht graduated from BYU with a degree in linguistics and a master’s certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). In the course of getting married and having children, she realized the need for books to support parents in having practical, effective, and fun family home evenings and daily scripture study. She originally compiled FHEasy: A Year of Weekly Teachings and Daily Devotionals for her family but also shared it with some friends. The feedback was so positive that she decided to publish it for all LDS families to enjoy. She has been surprised and delighted by the positive feedback she has gotten from single adults and empty nesters as well as families with children at home. She invites you to visit her website at FHEasy.com.