May 26, 2014

"I am not ashamed"

  I love Mondays as I get to read emails from my brother who is serving a mission in London, England! He is serving in a very interesting part of England. The Lord is teaching him many lessons that will last him a lifetime. Today’s email held a story that shows his testimony and his firm stand as a witness of our Savior Jesus Christ. Here is an except from his email:

"I can always find a bull, even in England"
“I don't have much time but I will share a funny story with ya. I wrote this in a letter that I will try to send this week so sorry that you will have to hear it twice. This will be a shortened version though. Yesterday evening we were out talking to people on the streets. We were talking to this guy and something was a bit off about him so when the conversation was passed to me I just asked the guy if we could leave him with a card because we needed to go. He said, "No, I want to hear the message from you". I said, "Our message is that Jesus Christ is our Savior, now we need to go, have a nice day". Right then he grabbed me around the back of the neck and pulled me close to his face. I thought he was gonna kiss me! I pushed against his chest to keep him at a distance. He said something like, "Now you listen to me!" Then some words that I shouldn't repeat and I don't even remember all that he said. He started yelling to everyone to see what he had got a hold of. I just let him pull me around thinking to myself, "What the heck is going on". As a missionary so many weird things happen that it can be hard to tell when we should be worried and the flight or fight system is slow to kick on. I struggled just a little bit to try to get him to let go of me. He finally let go, pushed me away, and kicked me. It was so awesome! We just walked away around a corner and I started laughing real hard. I am so proud to bear the name of Jesus Christ! Let men revile and spit on me, I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ!” -Elder Colton Cluff

My brother was able to walk away from this experience knowing who he is and not be ashamed to stand for truth. My favorite part was he walked away with a smile. He did not let that experience bring him down or feel to hide. This brings me to ask, “Are we willing to not be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ?” If you’re preparing to serve a mission I would ask you to read or watch the talk by Elder Jeffery R. Holland titled “The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship” which fits perfectly to what my brother experienced.  If you returned home from a mission—the cost and blessings of discipleship does not end when you step onto the plane ride home. You have to keep pressing forward and do hard things. 

May 13, 2014

Your best---it's all He asks

Just because my Full-Time mission is over does not mean I can’t continue to write on this blog.  I would like to continue to write and share advice, lessons I learned being a “Returned Missionary”.

I returned from my mission in Salt Lake City 43 days ago and life has been a whirlwind. I have learned many lessons and today I would like to share with you one of them.

Comparing. Comparing against another is one of the worst things any human can possibly do. I see too much of that. Not only in the world but even on missions. On Sunday, Mother’s Day, I decided to go to my family’s ward and then leave after sacrament meeting and go to my own ward. I sat there listening to the talks. The couple that spoke touched my heart. They were talking about not comparing against another. Too many mothers compare against the “other mothers” around them and think they are not the best. I sat there and something hit me. I realized that the past few weeks I have been comparing myself against “the others”. I would have thoughts…you are not good enough or you are not like “them”. I would beat myself up about it but I did not know how much it was affecting me until today when my Heavenly Father reminded me. As I drove for 15 minutes to my church building, I had a tender moment on the road with my Heavenly Father. I was reminded of an experience I had early in my mission.

It was my first month or so in the mission---one of those rough days and weeks where I wondered, “Am I going to make it through?” One night I was in the bathroom washing my face and feeling like I could never measure up and kept saying, “I am not me”. I remember looking in the mirror as I dried my face and I took a look at myself and I heard the words, “You are still, David. You will be okay.” I learned that Heavenly Father still knew me and that I was still me and that I would be okay. I took a deep breath and said, “Okay, I can do this. I don’t need to know everything right now and I’ve got to do MY version of best.” The wife that spoke talked about this concept of, “Do YOUR best, not someone else’s best.” All of you that are preparing to serve a mission, or are a newly returned missionary, or simply chasing your dream… don’t compare.

  This brings to my next point: “It’s okay to be different.” When you get home from a mission everyone asks you the same questions over and over…so buckle up and enjoy the ride. They are just simply excited for you and your life but sometimes your plans may be different than the typical BYU boy or girl dream. When people ask me what I am doing for school I say, “I am going to start in the fall doing the BYU-Idaho Pathway program here in St. Louis.” The responses I get are almost identical to the responses I get when people ask me, “Where did you serve your mission?” When I say, “Salt Lake City, Utah.” I get this surprised look and then an, “Oh…cool.” I learned to laugh silently at people’s reaction. It is quite something to watch. 

One of my dreams and hopes is to be a motivational speaker and writer. I have been reading articles and watching and learning from other motivational speakers the past few days. Something this one person said really hit me: “Don’t try to be better than everyone else but be different.”  What makes you, you?

To summarize, don’t compare yourself and don’t compare others. Even those that seem to “have it all” still compare themselves to their version of “the others” so just avoid comparing. If you feel like you are being compared, don’t let those thoughts dwell in your head. You have better things to think about. Be happy and be you!