** NOTE: While the religious lingo of this post may be unfamiliar to some, Prompting Events can be used successfully by members of all faiths. **
The 14th Article of Faith.
Say it with me.
“We believe all the guilt that has been revealed, all the guilt that is now revealed, and we believe much more guilt will yet be revealed with regards to many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”
It’s the unwritten Article of Faith in our church.
LEARNING HOW TO LIVE THE GOSPEL
Every Sunday we head to church, exhausted and overwhelmed, hoping to find a measure of peace, and enough grace to get us through the coming week.
Instead, we get a laundry list of “coulda, shoulda, wouldas”, and leave church with a To-Do List so long we nearly trip on it as we leave the building.
The items on the list change each week, depending on the subjects discussed during the talks and lessons:
Pray to have charity.
Visit your ministering sisters.
Attend the temple monthly.
Do family history.
Study Come Follow Me daily as a family.
Help the refugees.
Say your prayers morning and night.
Strengthen your family relationships.
And on and on and on.
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GUILTY AND OVERWHELMED
Well-meaning messages shared with the intent to motivate us to build the Kingdom of God and strengthen our relationship with our Savior.
Well-meaning messages that, instead, often cause us to shorten our step instead of lengthen our stride,
to whither with anxiety instead of flourish with faith,
to collapse in exhaustion instead of press forward with determination.
Well-meaning messages that cause some—too many—to become burned out to the point of giving up.
Because they are tired.
They. are. so. tired.
And they feel like a failure because they can’t do it all.
Despite their best efforts, they just can’t keep up.
They feel guilty and overwhelmed.
So they quit trying.
BOMBARDED WITH FAILURE
Last week, as I reflected on the month of February, I felt a sense of inadequacy set in:
I went to the temple, but only twice in three months.
I ministered to my sisters by dropping something off, but I haven’t visited with them for a few months.
I rarely say my morning and evening prayers.
I don’t study Come Follow Me the right way.
I haven’t written in my kids’ Mom And Me journals for a year (or more), despite the fact that the journals are sitting on my nightstand.
Oh, and I didn’t have the patience of Job today.
Sharing Stories – Finding Hope
As if that weren’t enough, other people started sharing their inadequacies with me:
“I probably should have gone to the temple last night, but instead I went to watch a grandchild’s performance.”
“I should have made pancakes for breakfast instead of pulling out the cold cereal…again.”
“The laundry hasn’t been done all week.”
Just as I was about to collapse in defeat, then climb into bed and stay there indefinitely, I recalled something I learned recently at a workshop:
Two life-altering, inadequacy-defeating words that helped me change my perspective:
Prompting events, the speaker (Joel Beckstead) explained, are things you need to do to keep love alive in your relationships:
Spend quality time with the person.
Have fun together.
Serve one another.
Plan special occasions that will be memorable for years to come.
The more prompting events you do together, the better your chances of having a happy and successful relationship.
It’s the lack of Prompting Events that causes a relationship to deteriorate.
That made sense to me, but it was what the speaker said next that really captured my attention.
SPIRITUAL PROMPTING EVENTS
He said that, just as prompting events strengthen our relationships with others, our testimonies are strengthened as we engage in Prompting Events that strengthen our love for the Savior and his gospel. Prompting events such as:
Temple and family history work
Come Follow Me Study
A NEW PERSPECTIVE
So rather than thinking of these things as a To-Do List or Checklist (as I have done so often in my life), one should consider them Prompting Events that can be utilized, at will, throughout your week to help strengthen your relationship with your Savior.
The more time one spends utilizing Prompting Events, the stronger their relationship with the Savior is apt to be.
The less time one spends, the weaker their spiritual foundation.
Perhaps this is why we are constantly being reminded of spiritual Prompting Events—prayer, scripture study, family history, service, etc. Each reminder we get is not a call to do ALL these things PERFECTLY all of the time. Think of each “call to action” as another amazing option to add to your bucketful of Prompting Events that can be drawn from at will. And hopefully often.
I like the concept of spending as much TIME as you intentionally choose to during the week doing SOME of the Prompting Events, instead of pushing yourself to do ALL of the Prompting Events. Remember, it’s the QUALITY time you spend with another person that is going to strengthen your relationship, not just the act itself. Choose a Prompting Event to do and then be all in!
One may ask, “How do I know which Prompting Events to do?”
That’s the exciting part!
When we partake of the Sacrament each week we’re promised that the Spirit will always be with us. It’s this Spirit that will guide us in knowing how we ought to be spending our time on a daily, even hourly basis.
Like, for example, when I felt impressed to attend the temple one night this month (after not attending for two months) and was fortunate enough to run into a good friend—a single, works two jobs, homeschooling mom like myself, who felt impressed to rush to the temple to try to make the last session. How she finds the time, I don’t know. In her current circumstances, she can’t possibly do it ALL, but she recognized the prompting to go to the temple that night, to participate in this particular Prompting Event that will strengthen her relationship with her Savior. She felt inspired to go and she acted. Seeing her at the temple that night made me want to be a better person. It was a tender mercy I was grateful for–one that was made possible thanks to the inspiration of the Spirit.
Or what about the time I felt strongly impressed to buy flowers for my ministering sisters. I felt “guilty for only delivering flowers” until one sister told me how much she loved the flowers and how much that kind gesture had meant to her. “It was just what I needed!” she said. Again, a gesture brought about by the guidance of the Spirit.
Then there was the time I felt like I should stop the activity I was doing and go outside to kick the soccer ball with my son.
And the time I felt impressed to share with my children insights on this week’s Come Follow Me Lesson, however unconventional they may have been.
DOING WHAT WORKS
As it turns out, while I didn’t go to the temple “once a month”, I went exactly when I was supposed to.
I needn’t have felt guilty for not visiting my ministering sisters, for it wasn’t a visit they were needing, it was flowers!
I may not have written in my kids’ Mom And Me Journals, but I kicked the ball with my son, and planned special one-on-one time with my daughters.
I don’t often kneel at my bed to pray morning and evening; I pray a dozen times during the day.
We don’t have FHE on Monday Nights; we have it at random times during the week.
We do what works for our family.
FOLLOW THE SPIRIT
Turns out, I can’t do a Checklist when the alternative is to follow the Spirit.
One does Prompting Events because they WANT to, not because they HAVE to, and that one factor makes all the difference.
Fill your week with Prompting Events, fill your week with the Spirit, and you’ll be okay.
You’ll be more than okay.
You’ll be guilt-free.
CHALLENGE: Try filling your week with Prompting Events and see how much better you feel.
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