Each fall and winter, I feel a subtle invitation to slow down, snuggle up in warm things and rest. The trees start to withdraw their energy to their core to sleep. The squirrels and bears and birds start their last harvesting (binge fest) efforts to prepare for hibernation. I feel myself preparing for my own season of rest.
This year, I have been tired. Not the normal "Oh life is busy," tired more like "the world is falling apart and my soul is aching" tired. My mind, heart, body and soul have been carrying more than they ever have this year. It has felt like going from lifting 5 pounds in exercise to carrying 50 pounds in one day. There are somethings that have been affecting the whole world and have also been affecting me like the war in Ukraine. There are other things that have affected my community like my friend's death. This event most greatly affected her young family, but also everyone who knew and loved her. There have been other things that have been affecting my husband and I changing jobs, moving to a new community, me getting hospitalized and continued infertility with still no definitive answers. This year has been heavy in so many ways. I have told my husband, my parents, friends and therapist, "I really need a break. Not a vacation, like an actual break from life falling apart." And don't get me wrong! There have been awesome amazing moments! There were even good moments during some trials! But I would be lying to myself and you if I were to tell you that this year was great. It wasn't. It was really really hard and heavy.
Since this year was so difficult, I found myself saying, "Just hold on till General Conference. I can't wait for Conference!" I love General Conference. Some people like going to concerts or tuning into motivational podcasts, not me. I'm good. I love Conference. I feel so much power, love, courage, confidence and encouragement from Conference. I feel seen and heard when I tune into Conference. This General Conference session did not fail me.
President Russell M. Nelson gave a talk entitled, "Overcome the World and Find Rest". I needed this talk. In this talk, President Nelson explained that there is a direct connection between making covenants with God and finding rest. By making covenants in the temple, we get to experience Jesus' promise found in the bible where he says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." President Nelson explained that for all those who make and keep sacred covenants they have increased access to the power of Jesus Christ.
Covenants yoke us to Christ. We promise to carry his burden of doing spiritual work on earth. He promises to carry our burden of sin, sorrow, sickness and heartbreak. He gives us his all, his life, his heart. We give him our all, our lives, our hearts. That is powerful. Having Christ always at your side, pulling with you, working beside you is very powerful indeed. Through our covenants we come to rely more upon Christ and his eternal and infinite power.
Because of Christ, he gives us the power to overcome the world. President Nelson explained that overcoming the world means, "... overcoming the temptation to care more about the things of this world that the things of God. It means trusting the doctrine of Christ more than the philosophies of men. It means delighting in truth, denouncing deception, and becoming humble followers of Christ. It means choosing to refrain from anything that drives the Spirit away. It means being willing to give away even our favorite sins." Being bound to Christ in covenant give us the power to overcome the world in every possible way.
President Nelson also said, "(Overcoming the world) happens over a lifetime as we repeatedly embrace the doctrine of Christ." He continues, "As we strive to live the higher laws of Jesus Christ, our hearts and our very natures begin to change. The Savior lifts us above the pull of this fallen world by blessing us with greater charity, humility, generosity, kindness, self-discipline, peace and rest." Ever since I gave my life over to Christ, I have found myself repeatedly praying, "Please transform me, remake me, change my heart and my mind, make me new!" I used to think that this transformation and rebirth in Christ would be instantaneous. I thought that one day all of the wicked desires and tendencies to be distracted would be rooted out of my heart and mind. However, I have now understood that it is a lifetime journey, a slow cascading sunset transformation. I still pray for my heart and mind to be cleansed and made new, but I understand that it has happened, it is happening and will continue to happen through my entire walk with Christ. I really only notice the change when I think back on how I used to use my minutes and hours four years ago. It is quite the shift.
I used to waste my time, energy and money chasing after the things of the world. President Nelson is right when he said, "While the world insists that power, possessions, popularity, and pleasures of the flesh bring happiness, they do not!... The truth is that it is much more exhausting to seek happiness where you can never find it." I have been there. I have been in that exhausting place seeking happiness in the things of the world and still feeling empty and lost. That empty lost dissatisfied feeling is what made me realize that I needed to give my life over to Christ.
I share my witness with President Nelson's that yoking yourself to Christ and binding yourself to God makes life better, easier, lighter, more full, more joyful, and more restful. There is no greater rest than to know that my Savior knows me, loves me and has promised to stay beside me and give me the power I need to face each day. Truly, because of Christ, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
If you desire to feel more of God's promise of rest in your life, I invite you to give your life over to God. Make covenants with God in his holy temple. Learn of him and how he gives you power through covenants. Go to the temple often. Rest in the safety and power of your covenants.
For President Nelson's full talk click on this link: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2022/10/47nelson?lang=eng