By Lauren Madsen
I have three kids who are all taking piano lessons right now. The oldest child loves learning to play and will take on a challenging song with determination and excitement. I don’t typically have to remind her to practice. The middle child’s relationship with piano is more complicated. She likes to play songs once she has learned them, but hates to sit down and practice. If there is a song she really wants to learn, she will neglect her other songs to focus on only that one. She has to be reminded to practice some of the time. The youngest of the three kind of wants to play, but doesn’t seem to connect that the older two are able to play what they play because they have put in the work to learn how. He will not likely sit down on his own to practice, and only practices the bare minimum he has to in order to say he’s done.
One morning recently I was thinking about desire and effort, in relation to so many parts of life. Because my children hold varying levels of the desire to learn and the willingness to do what it takes to become better at the piano, they also have different outcomes. Desire and effort come into play for them at school, in their relationships with others, and in their physical activities.
As adults, our own efforts, desires, intentions, and willingness affect all of our outcomes as well. If we really want something, and really work for it, we will likely achieve success. If we are half-hearted in our desire, we are probably half-hearted in our effort. Our success is much less likely.
When I look back on my life it is easy to see that at times when I truly wanted a deeper connection with Christ, and that great desire fueled my behaviors, I found the connection I was looking for. In the times I didn’t feel as close to my Savior, my motives and intentions were lacking. I have found that intentional and active discipleship makes all the difference, such as:
- Joyfully repenting every day
- Mindfully partaking of the sacrament
- Carefully studying Christ’s attributes through scriptures and modern day revelation and then acting in ways that align with those attributes
- Consciously considering my temple attendance as an appointment with Him
- Purposefully praying to experience the power of Christ’s Atonement in my life
Returning to the idea that my kids get out of piano lessons what they put into them, the same goes for our connection to Christ. If we have desire, and we act on that desire through creating holy habits and righteous routines, our bond with Him will feel stronger. Interestingly, I could check off all the things I feel I am “supposed” to do, but if I am not focused on how those things are connecting me to Christ, I am likely not really strengthening our relationship much at all.
I love what President Russell M. Nelson said at the April 2023 general conference: “The Lord Jesus Christ lives today. He can be an active, daily presence in our lives. He is the solution to our problems, but we must lift our eyes and raise our sights to see Him.”