We can bring the greatest of all liberties into our individual lives by living true and correct principles. This liberty comes to us as we live as though Jesus Christ were walking beside us.
The liberty principle for today is the fourth in a series of true principles suggested by Elder Richard G. Scott in his book 21 Principles – Divine Truths to Help You Live by the Spirit. I will merely introduce the principle and suggest that you obtain Elder Scott’s book in order to truly understand this principle. Elder Scott explained that principles “are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and challenging circumstances.” You can see principle #1 here, principle #2 here, and principle #3 here.
Principle #4 is the simple fact that we can strengthen or destroy promptings from the Holy Ghost by our own thinking. Elder Scott explained that Heavenly Father is aware that we face challenges that require decisions “beyond [our] own ability to decide correctly.” In His wisdom He prepared for us to receive divine help. That divine help comes to us “through the Holy Ghost as spiritual guidance. It is a power, beyond your own capability, that a loving Heavenly Father wants you to use consistently for your success, peace, and happiness….
“I am convinced that there is no simple formula or technique that would immediately allow you to master the ability to be guided by the voice of the Spirit. Our Father expects you to learn how to obtain that divine help by exercising faith in Him and His Holy Son, Jesus Christ. Were you to receive inspired guidance just for the asking, you would become weak and ever more dependent on Them. They know that essential personal growth will come as you struggle to learn how to be led by the Spirit.
“What may appear initially to be a daunting task will be much easier to manage over time as you consistently strive to recognize and follow feelings prompted by the Spirit…” (p. 23).
Elder Scott continued by explaining that we gain two blessings by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The first blessing “is inspiration to know what to do.” The second blessing “is power, or the capacity to do it” (p. 24).
I know the truth of Elder Scott’s teaching because of personal experience. I could relate numerous examples of when I received promptings and stopped to think about it instead of simply acting on it. One example is a painful memory of a prompting that took place thirty-five years ago. My family had just moved in to a brand new house in an area where there were few houses. The children were 6, 5, 3, and 18 months. I was in the process of landscaping our yard and wanted some native plants. There were no houses across the street at that time so I walked over there looking for plants. My three-year-old son went with me. Later, he led his two older sisters along the same route. I remember thinking that I should call the children back, but I did not. I rationalized that I could see them and could see that they were okay. About thirty seconds later, my second daughter stepped on a hornets nest. The children came running home, and we all went in the garage and closed the door. Several of the hornets followed us into the garage but were easily killed. My daughter received several dozen bites. I quickly got her in a tub of warm water with baking soda – my mother’s remedy – and called the doctor. The nurse assured me that my daughter would have reacted already if she were allergic to them. If I had followed the prompting, I could have saved my daughter from a painful experience.
By remembering this terrible experience, I respond differently to promptings now. If a thought comes to me, I respond as if it is a prompting from the Holy Ghost – just in case. A recent experience is a good example. My husband and I were in the process of putting new doors and windows in our home. The installation company brought the inside trim for us to stain on Thursday with plans to start the installation of the windows on the next Tuesday. I went to the store Thursday evening to purchase stain to match the banister, beams, and fireplace mantle but could not find a match. I went to several stores looking for a matching stain but could not find it. By Friday evening I had exhausted all ideas and decided to stop looking for stain and simply paint the trim. Then came the problem of finding a paint color – something besides white. I went back to the store on Saturday to get paint. I looked at many colors of paint and accomplished nothing besides getting more confused. A large part of the problem came from the fact that the vinyl windows were not white. I could not remember the exact color of “beige” and therefore could not find a coordinating color for the trim. I decided to wait until Monday when I could go back to the company to look at the windows again. I picked out a dozen or so cards with paint colors and was driving home when the thought came to me that I should purchase the paint that evening rather than wait until Monday. I found a parking lot and pulled into it. I said a prayer, basically saying, “I am willing to buy the paint tonight, but I have no idea what color to purchase. If I am to buy it, I need thy help in choosing the right color.” I then proceeded to go through the cards containing colors of paint one by one. Is it this one? No. Is it this one? No. Finally, I came to a card that received a yes. Each card had three different colors of paint – so I still did not know which color. Is it this color? No. Is it this color? Yes. I returned to the store and purchased a can of paint. When I arrived at our home, I told my husband of my experience of purchasing paint simply because of feelings. He did not call me crazy, but I am sure he was wondering. I proceeded to paint the trim, still not knowing the color of the windows. The windows were installed the next week and the trim put up. I still did not know if I liked the color of the trim, one minute liking it and the next questioning it. A few days later I was at Lowe’s again and picked up some more paint cards. Upon returning home, I compared all the colors to the color of the windows and picked out the color that I thought looked best with the colors of the windows and the walls. Then I looked at the name of the color. It sounded real familiar to me so I found the previous card I had used when purchasing paint. It was the exact same color! By following the promptings of the Holy Ghost I had chosen the same color as I did by trying to match the colors myself. Needless to say, I am now much more comfortable with the color of the trim. That does not mean I will not change the color of the trim the next time we paint the walls; it simply means that I feel at peace and can move forward to the next project.
Elder Scott testified that we “can learn to be consistently guided by the Holy Spirit in all aspects of [our lives].” If God is concerned about helping me to pick the “right” color to paint my window trim – and He obviously was – then I know He is even more concerned about much more important decisions in my life. I know He lives and loves us and wants us to be happy!