I think that it’s traditional that one introduces themselves the first time they give a talk in their ward, but I’m really not that interesting – um, and in some other wards I have gotten more opportunities to speak and it helped me overcome the anxiety, but it’s been two years since I gave a talk and all that overcoming speaking anxiety is gone. Also, when I was thinking about how I might go about introducing myself it sounded more like an infomercial. No good. So, if you feel like my introduction during this talk is inadequate than I challenge you to try to find me during 2dn or 3rd hour and talk to me. Now, that being said, I have had to write a few introductions for myself this past week and I feel that I can at least share with you all as much as my online classmates at BYUI get.
Subject line (these are usually discussion boards and the subject line is) “I’m just me... a little bit of a hot mess”. My name is Arren Quigley, I'm a senior graduating from BYU-Idaho’s online program in December with a BS degree in BM-and an emphasis in entrepreneurial management. I also have a terrible slash / “awesome” sense of humor; I'm so glad I have a brother who 'gets it'. I have tons of interests and hobbies, but it will probably take a few weeks after I graduate to remember what they are. I have vague recollections of art and singing and running and hiking and reading and organizing and animals and makeup and building furniture and dancing (shrug)...
I live in Colorado Springs, CO (I moved to Manitou 4 years ago and moved to Security in October of last year). I grew up in a suburb of Houston and have lived many places, but I'm trying really hard to put down roots here in the Springs. I love it here. I have two kiddos; Jaedyn is 17... oh, I mean 9 going on 17 and Andrew will be 5 in June and a super delight to have around.
I'm in the midst of a tragic time - I would love to slow down and take less classes each semester so I can focus on them 'more better', but I need to get a degree ASAP and be able to provide for myself and my little kiddos. To that effect, I'm working part time as a nanny for some firefighter friends and part time as an Emergency Medical Technician in Woodland Park and I volunteer with the Manitou library as the monthly toddler Music Time leader and as the treasurer and board member for Friends of the Library Board and I lead the music in Sacrament in my ward among other things like laundry and cooking and dishes. I was given a tentative job offer to come back part time to the Intern job I had last semester at the Ambulance District in Woodland Park (where I work as an EMT) to help in the office, but I'm still waiting to hear if they have found some money in their - very tight- budget for me.
I think in one video intro I talked more about what I love about Colorado and how grateful I am for the grace of God and the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the ability that those gifts give me to move forward through the trails I’m facing and the switching of so many hats and trying to make it “look good”. I’m unwilling to speak in detail about my current trials because they are still too raw, but I can say that for the trials I am living right now the description of Moroni and the People of Nephi defending and protecting themselves and their loved ones from the overtly aggressive attacks of the Lamanites led by Amalickiah is appropriate. Especially in Alma 48 verses 21-24 *But, as I have said, in the latter end of the nineteenth year, yea, notwithstanding their peace amongst themselves, they were compelled reluctantly to contend with their brethren, the Lamanites. Yea, and in fine, their wars never did cease for the space of many years with the Lamanites, notwithstanding their much reluctance. Now, they were sorry to take up arms against the Lamanites, because they did not delight in the shedding of blood; yea, and this was not all—they were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world into an eternal world, unprepared to meet their God. Nevertheless, they could not suffer to lay down their lives, that their wives and their children should be massacred by the barbarous cruelty of those who were once their brethren, yea, and had dissented from their church, and had left them and had gone to destroy them by joining the Lamanites. * and in the same chapter verses *14-16 *Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives. And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger; And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.*
What a comfort these people had; they knew that if they were obedient to the Lord they would be given specific help in their fight. It is my testimony that when we utilize the Atonement in our lives, we too can have that comfort. Because I’m not ready to speak to my trials I went looking for some trials that may be alleviate if one were to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ to their situation. In Stephen L. Richard’s talk Gifts of the Gospel, he outlined how Comfort is a gift of the gospel. *long quote alert, but he says it so much better than I can* He said,
“I speak of comfort in the spiritual and scriptural sense bringing consolation, peace of mind and soul, resignation, tranquility, and serenity in times of bereavement, suffering, fear, doubt, and uncertainty. Very few are without some kind of trouble and many think their own troubles most severe. I remember years ago on one of my first visits to the beautiful memorial church at Stanford University reading an inscription engraved in stone on one of the walls. In substance it was as follows: If every person in the world should wrap his troubles in a bag and then throw it in a heap with all the packages of troubles of all the people, and if each were then told that he could go to the heap and select the package of troubles which he would bear, each would go to the pile and bring back his own package. So it may well be in the providence of things that each should have troubles of a kind suited to his capacity and experience in life. However this may be, we all need comfort and perhaps the self-sufficient ones who do not recognize the need really require it more than any others.
Physical pain is torturing, hard to endure. I am a witness to the fact that it may be assuaged by spiritual blessing and comfort. Thousands there are who testify as to the efficacy of prayer and the healing and the comfort of the priesthood, but even the torture of pain is not more excruciating than the humiliation and stigma of disgrace or the consciousness of guilt. Thank the Lord for the gift of repentance which has been so beautifully portrayed, to the transgressor, but it often happens that even the greater sorrow comes to the innocent. A wayward child brings tragedy to a family, shattering a reputation and good name it may have taken generations to build. A drunken or otherwise perverted husband or wife smashes a good home. A rebellious son or daughter stabs a knife into the hearts of loving parents as he or she discards the loyalties of a lifetime. These are cases for comfort beyond the merely human touch that call for deep understanding, for spiritual fortification, for a resignation that is divine.
And then there are the lonely. They who have been bereft of the companionship of loved ones, sometimes left all alone without kin about them. I was reading the other day that there are more than six million widows in the United States, many of them being widowed at as early an age as forty with an expectancy approximating thirty years of life without their mates. Some are without the companionship of children. In the immediate circle of my own friends and associates, many sad partings have come. Decades of loving and most beautiful association have been sadly interrupted just at a time when it seemed to mortal ken the ripest and richest years of holy wedlock were in the offing. I know many a friend who needs comfort. I am deeply grateful that for the most part my immediate friends have this consolation of the spirit. They are buoyed up by an unfaltering trust that the sad separations are but temporary. They give themselves and their great service to the master to requite in part at least that which he gives to them—comfort and peace to the soul.”
In Sheri Dew’s book, Worth the Wrestle she list another sort of trials we go through. Questions. At some point we may find ourselves asking: *Am I good enough? Can God ever forgive me, after what I’ve done? Why do I question my faith when everyone else in my family doesn’t? ...* My suggestion for an answer to many of these intense questions comes from Christ’s comforting directive to the woman taken in adultery found in John 8:11. “Neither do I condemn thee; Go, and sin no more.” I find it a comfort that we are not condemned by our Savior, but that we are directed to go and do and to be better than we were before.
In a talk by Carlos H. Amado titled Overcoming Adversity he tells about watching someone he loved grieve. He could do nothing to help her but recognized the importance of what was revealed about the Atonement of Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19 “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— “Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” Christ has suffered more than any of us, and He knows the intensity of our afflictions. There is no suffering we have that He did not undergo in Gethsemane and on Calvary. That is why He understands and can help us. Christ stated in John 11:25: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
I reflected back on how I have felt the comfort of the Atonement in my life and, rather than a specific experience, a parable developed in my mind. I am not as clever with parables as Christ was, and if you find a whole in my logic, I beg with that you heed the words from the title page of the Book of Mormon “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God (the Atonement of Jesus Christ), that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.”
The parable goes:
There was once a certain person who grew up in a training gym. This person had a coach who helped them practice skills they would need in the boxing ring. They had a mentor who had been through all the fights before, and who had come out victorious every time. This mentor could give them perfect advice about what to do in order to also be victorious in every match. As this person grew they sparred in the gym; little matches that were for their good, that gave them experience and helped them learn and grow. They were daily preparing for bigger matches that their loving manager would let them participate in. When this person got to a certain age, they went to the ring and was set against on opponent. In the ring the parried and attacked. Sometimes they successfully blocked a blow from their adversary, sometimes they didn’t. At regular intervals they could retreat to a place of safety and rest while they were given some life- sustaining water and a comforting towel was wrapped around them. To this person the rounds seemed to stretch on and on. Their strength flagged and the opponent’s blows seemed to rain down. This person could hear the encouraging cheers from their supportive friends and family and this helped them find the will to fight smarter, using the skills they learned from their coach and from their mentor. Sometimes this person felt that they were getting the upper hand or would notice the opponent backing down and this person could look out at the other matches in other rings, this person used that time to cheer on his friends and training partners. But the break never lasted, the fight would continue and eventually they felt they couldn’t go on. They had reached the end of their ability to fight off their adversary. Just at that moment, their mentor stepped into the ring and took this person’s place in the fight. The mentor had fought this fight before and he is always victorious. At the end of the match, the mentor brought this person to the manager and presented them as the winning party to the match, at which point this person heard the manager say “Well done”.
Because I wrote it out, I could go into detail about all the symbolism for this parable, but I only want to point out some of the big-ticket items. I’ll leave the others for you to ponder over. We were sent here to live on this earth to be tried and tested, life here has been called a school, a proving and “Training” ground, much like a training gym. As we grow and learn we are given little learning opportunities; goodly parents and wise church leaders train and “coach” us in the ways of righteousness. At some point each of us will face trials, I’ve talked about what some of those trials might be, but regardless of trials named today or not, no one is exempt from facing some sort of trial because it is Heavenly Father’s plan that we prove ourselves. He is a loving manager who, when He knows we are ready, lets us take on a real trial. Our perfect Savior is right there to guide us by His example and when we have done all we can do, He steps into the ring for us. And He never loses. Because of this we can return as victors when we meet our Heavenly Father.
Additionally, we who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ have taken His name upon us, we have promised to be His hands to Comfort those in need of comfort. We can cheer for and help to lift up the heads of those in the boxing rings around us comforting as best we can those who stand in need of comfort. When I feel overwhelmed with trials and hardships, I find one of the best antidotes to despair is to go and serve others. I have a testimony that our ability to comfort others when we are feeling overcome is a blessing of the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Our fight is not a one and done match, so we are constantly needing to learn and become better. As we do, we find more comforting and enabling blessing of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Forgiveness is one of those enabling and comforting powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Forgiving is hard, but the effects of comfort to our soul and ability to come close to God are great. In Stake Conference last week, Bro Malnar quoted his son who said “I want to be like Jesus.” I want to be like Jesus too. Elder Holland said, “Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we.” It’s taken some time but I can testify to the comfort that comes from using the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life to forgive imperfect people for their flaws, even the flaws that hurt me deeply. Part of that comfort comes from an understanding that they will be held accountable for their choices, and another part comes from knowing that they will have the same opportunity to repent and be forgiven that I am given, that each of us are given.
It is my testimony that Christ Atoned for us and that because of that Atonement, we have hope for better things to come. That regardless of the trials we are facing, we can find comfort in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I say these things in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.