The Best Gift You Can Give Yourself
By Lauren Madsen
Because our December calendars fill up more than most other months of the year, it may be tempting to put off temple attendance and the stillness we invite with prayer and scripture study. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do it all! It is unfortunate that we might use that excuse to fall out of holy habits and righteous routines we have been trying to practice all year long.
Though Christmastime has been called the “most wonderful time of the year,” for many it brings up complicated emotions. Some may experience reopening wounds of grief for loved ones lost. Some may worry over tight finances. Some may wish that with all the service opportunities that they could do more for others. Some may pray that someone will know their needs and offer assistance. Some may look back at the year and acknowledge that it looked nothing like the year they had planned.
All of these difficult situations and burdens can be made lighter when we draw closer to the Savior. I know of no better way to do that than creating intentional stillness. In a loud world, we have to prioritize quiet moments to reflect on eternal things and rejuvenate our spirits.
Last year President Nelson taught, “It is now time that we each implement extraordinary measures — perhaps measures we have never taken before — to strengthen our personal spiritual foundations. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures.” In another talk he emphasized the importance of stillness,“Commotion in the world will continue to increase. In contrast, the voice of the Lord is not ‘a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but … it [is] a still voice of perfect mildness, [like] a whisper, and it [pierces] even to the very soul.’ In order to hear this still voice, you too must be still! … Quiet time is sacred time--time that will facilitate personal revelation & instill peace.”
Yes, there will be Christmas gift-giving and gatherings. There will be shopping and packages, family parties, ward parties, work parties and class parties. There will be lights to see and food to prepare and presents to wrap. But as we are often reminded, we can lose sight of Whose birth we are celebrating. If we do not put stillness at the top of our list, it is possible to get caught up in things that matter less.
Stillness may look like a scripture study session, or an unhurried prayer. It may look like serving in the temple or listening to sacred music. It may look like asking Heavenly Father who we can help with the resources we have and then waiting for the answer. It may look like deeper focus during the sacrament and turning our hearts through repentance.
Whatever our calendars look like, both in December and in all the months after, choosing stillness--time with the Savior--will shape our days in miraculous ways. What are some of those miracles? In the First Presidency Christmas message we are promised, “We testify that as you seek our Savior’s love, peace and rest, you will find it.”
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