This is an embarrassing story, but I think it needs to be told. Today was our Stake Conference. We knew it was the conference, and we were prepared to attend. We were excited, set the alarm, and thought we were ready. However, as we woke up and we started getting ready, we realized that we did not know which church building (the building, address, or even Stake name) we were supposed to attend! Could we call someone? No, the few numbers that we have were for members who would most likely be in meetings. Could we look online? We could if we knew how to use that particular feature on the LDS.org site. Could we just drive around and magically find it? This is not Utah, so our chances of randomly running into the correct building on time would be low... So much for being "prepared" for the conference!
This got me thinking and it made me wonder all of the things that we could have done differently. Our wonderful Bishop was here on Tuesday, and I had my amazing Visiting Teacher here on Wednesday. Couldn't I have asked one of them? We have two sets of neighbors who are also in our Ward, couldn't we have talked to them? Why did we wait for the last minute to get our information? We had falsely allowed ourselves to believe we were prepared when we were not prepared at all. What other things do we incorrectly believe we are prepared for?
The whole situation made me think of the parable of the virgins, in Matthew 25:
1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming;[a] go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour[b] in which the Son of Man is coming.
Would I be a virgin who had thought ahead and brought her oil? Would I be a virgin who remembered her lamp at all? Would I be a virgin who would be ready the moment I was called? I would love to answer yes, and before today I think I may have been able to unknowingly lie to myself and believe I would be a prepared woman, but now I see the truth: I have a lot of work to do.
As soon as we bring home our babies, we mothers have to be prepared. We have baby Tylenol, diapers, wipes, and a change of clothing (or two!) everywhere we go. As our children get older we still keep snacks in our purses and Kleenex in the car. And none of us (hopefully!) would dream of starting a long road trip without fueling the vehicles first! But as nice as these preparations are, they are purely temporal.
Each of us has things we need to plan and prepare for. I am very thankful that my hats are as a student, wife, mother, homemaker, and homeschooler- each of these roles requires preparation and forethought. For many women there are additional preparations that need to be made: family gatherings, community service, food storage and emergency preparedness, carpools, vacations, school events, church callings, employment, budgets and payments, holidays, etc. And those are just the things I can name without taking time and brainstorming! We are all very busy!!!
I have found that daily scripture study, personal prayer, and family prayer all help keep the spirituality on my list of top priorities. However, there are so many Earthly things that we have to plan and prepare for, it is often easy to allow spiritual preparation to fall on the back-burner. Like the foolish virgins, who allowed their temporal needs to come first (they slept instead of getting their oil), it is easy to find ourselves out of time when we are put to the test. So, I hope that as I learn from today's experience, I will remember that I need to fill my lamp before it is too late- and next time I will get to where I need to be on time. Knowing that "you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming," should be a very large wake up call- we need to be prepared today, right now!
How can we prepare ourselves and increase our spirituality? Make it a habit!
- Family Prayer
- Personal Prayer
- Daily Scripture Study
- Church Attendance
- Regular Family Home Evening
I have had years of struggle with making daily scripture study a habit, and I found that joining a scripture study group really helped me (I am a Good Morning Girl, a nondenominational scripture study group). I also bought a large set of "family" scriptures that have photographs, illustrations, and definitions, and we read the family scriptures with the children. These were steps that I had to take in order to improve my performance in a very weak area of my spiritual progress. And as I have progressed in one area, I can move to another.
This is all a journey, but if we press on joyfully, and put God first, our journey will have deeper meaning and eternal purpose. I am thankful I was able to share one of my many rough areas with you, and if you have any suggestions, ideas, or comments please feel free to share!