by Debra Woods
Something fundamentally changes in our listening when we know we are going to be responsible for teaching others about something. We become more focused, listening for the lesson we will be teaching, or the discussion we will be leading. And in the process, we are changed ourselves. We can unlock the powers of heaven! The messages go from being platitudes to become personal guides for the here and now in our lives!
Is it any wonder that this remarkable change in the curriculum for Relief Society and Melchizedek Priesthood Sunday meetings invites us to take the words of prophets, seers and revelators, special witnesses of Christ, messages for our day, and implement them in our lives more fully than ever before?
In one of my darkest hours, I took an institute class, almost out of desperation to find some solution, some answer, some direction in what I considered a tragic turn of events. I didn't know what I was expecting, I only knew I was frantic for relief. The first day of class, our teacher made this promise to us:
"if you will come to class each week having prepared for the lesson AS IF you would be teaching it yourself, I promise you will experience a never before reached level of personal revelation and closeness to our Heavenly Father."
I don't know if I was the only one who hung on his every word that day, but I was so desperate, I grasped at that promise - I NEEDED it to be true, so I accepted the challenge. I kept a notebook where I wrote notes as I read the lesson - followed through and read every scripture reference and considered the message and how it applied to my life, and how I could teach the principle, what methods would be effective, what stories from my own life it reminded me of, how I might put it in my own words, what questions it brought up, and where I might find answers to those questions.
And in very fact, that process lead to the questions, and prayer and a prayer in my heart and in that state of mind, I became hyper sensitive to the spirit. I actually felt the entire Godhead, as three distinct individuals, along with the spirit of my deceased earth father, close by, with me, ministering to me, and answering my questions. It was the most remarkable experience!
The agony of isolation, of feeling not another person on earth could relieve my very personal pain, was dissipated with the knowing I was far from alone, I had the attention and comfort and protection and guidance of the most important men in my life, my ETERNAL life, there assisting me. And it was this challenge, to prepare for my religion class as though I was the teacher, that brought this remarkable situation to pass.
Here is an outline that we can use to take a talk and make it a lesson. BE AWARE that as you do this, YOU will be benefitted in remarkable ways! The first page is to use during conference. The second page is to use as you study the talk in more depth.
The reasons can be many and varied. Here are a few possibilities:
Once you've identified the uncomfortable feeling, ask yourself this question: "When was the first time I felt this same feeling?" Be ready with pen and paper to write your feelings about this. There may be a lot there to look at.
Now, ask a prayer for help. Ask God to show you what the truth is. Have you been mistaken about this matter based on some childhood misconception? Do you associate this thing with something painful in your life? Pray for insight. Pray for healing. Use the scriptures to look up this topic. Search on lds.org for further insights.
Be truthful and see if maybe in fact, you aren't so bad in this area as you have been thinking. Give yourself some credit for what you HAVE done. Acknowledge your past efforts.
If in relationship to this topic, you have been hurt by someone you should have been able to trust, pray for love and light and comfort - heaven is as near as your next prayer - be ready to follow promptings you receive. Write them down and follow through.
Your personal study may be a preparation for when you, or someone else, teaches a lesson based on this talk.