Discovering a Fresh View

April 25, 2017

Sister Rosemary M. Wixom

Former Primary General President

Biography:

Sister Rosemary M. Wixom served for six years as the 12th general president of the Primary.   She was released in April General Conference of 2016.  She has served on the Primary general board, the Young Women general board, and with her husband as he served as president of the Washington D.C. South Mission.

She was raised in Salt Lake City and attended Utah State University, where she graduated in elementary education. She and her husband, B. Jackson Wixom, are the parents of six children and have sixteen grandchildren.  

Sister Wixom is drawn to the scripture, "Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come" (D&C 68:6).

Spiritual Preparation

We invite you to study and ponder on the scriptures and other preparation resources below previous to attending devotional. As you come more spiritually prepared the Spirit will have greater power to inspire you, teach you, and to testify to you of the truthfulness of the principles that will be taught.

Pre-devotional discussion:

  •  True story: Doug, age 17, was at a party when a friend approached him and said, "Hey Doug, I need to leave in a minute, but is it true you are a Mormon?"
    "Yes," Doug replied. His friend said, "I've always wanted to talk to a Mormon.  Tell me, what would be in it for me if I joined your church?" 

    Please share on the discussion board in two or three sentences what you would say in response. 

Scriptures:

"Repentance" in the Bible Dictionary
D&C 19:16

2 Nephi 4:17-34

Ether 12:27

Romans 12:2

Acts 3:19

Jack and I are grateful to be here at BYU-I. I marvel that I would even have this opportunity to speak to you today. We love Rexburg, and we love this campus. We have fond memories of our college years. It's a time of learning, stretching, growing, and discovering yourself, and sometimes falling in love. I hope you feel our love today, because we love you!

For months now, I have pictured you as I have prepared for this devotional. I have visualized your faces, your apartments, and you walking to class. There is something about this campus and the energy we feel here. You are standing on the springboard of life. My advice to you is to jump high and dream big. Imagine where you will land 10 years from now, even more firmly anchored in your faith in Jesus Christ. Along your path, may you continue to discover the incredible blessing of being a member of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   

That takes me to the story of my friend Doug, who was approached by his friend, who said, "I've always wanted to talk to a Mormon. Tell me, what would be in it for me if I joined your church?" Some of you have responded as to what you would say under those same circumstances. But I have asked two of your fellow students to participate today to tell me what they would say. So let's begin with Rachel Northrop. Rachel, tell us where you're from, and what's your major here at BYU-Idaho?  

NORTHROP: I'm from Pocatello, Idaho, and I'm studying child development.  

WIXOM: And we discussed earlier, we both love children. It's a given, right? What would you say in such a circumstance as Doug?  

NORTHROP: I would draw from my own experience, what I have been blessed with. And that is a personal relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Being a part of this church has helped me learn how to pray, and through praying I've been able to feel of Their presence and Their strength.  

WIXOM: And how old were you when you first learned how to pray?  

NORTHROP: I learned to pray when I was little, but my first testimony of prayer came when I was in middle school. And I was praying about homework and was helped by Heavenly Father to finish my homework in middle school. And the Spirit testified to me that that's what had happened, that Heavenly Father did help me.  

WIXOM: Who taught you to pray?  

NORTHROP: My parents.  

WIXOM: Right. And your experience in church all those years? Your testimony is strong, Rachel, and I appreciate you sharing today. It's a relationship with our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  

NORTHROP: Absolutely.  

WIXOM: Thank you. Love you. Okay, now let's have Lance Plumb come and join us, if you would please. I am looking up at Lance, today, in more ways than one. I have great respect for his height. How tall are you, Lance?  

LANCE: I am 6-foot-5.  

WIXOM: Lucky you. Now, are you married?  

LANCE: I am not.  

WIXOM: You must promise me that you will marry a tall girl.  

LANCE: I can't promise you that.  

WIXOM: Because I'm a tall girl, and when I would see a tall boy marry a short girl, I would think, "Darn it, that's not fair." Tell us where you're from, and what is your major?  

LANCE: I'm from Leamington, Utah, and I'm an exercise physiology major.  

WIXOM: And if you were in Doug's situation and someone approached you, what would you tell them about this church?  

LANCE: I would say that I've gained many blessings from being a part of this church, but the greatest blessing I've ever received is having a relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that in my life, my greatest joys and happiness come as I've had relationships with my family and my friends. And as I have been a member of this church, I've gained a relationship with God that has brought me even more happiness.  

WIXOM: How are you different now than you were even five years ago?  

LANCE: I would say I'm a much happier person. I've learned what it's like to listen to Heavenly Father's voice and be able to follow that, and it's brought me a lot of happiness because of it.  

WIXOM: Can you even imagine where you'll be five years from now?  

LANCE: Way happier than I am now.  

WIXOM: I promise you will if you keep living it like you do right now. Thank you so much for participating.  

There's something about that relationship. Now, all of you have ideas or thoughts in your minds. I'm going to give you a minute to turn to the person next to you, and would you share maybe one or two sentences about what you would say that defines your view of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Go ahead.  

(AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION)  

Did it cause you to take a fresh view of your beliefs? Someone once said, "This restored gospel of Jesus Christ is great and marvelous. To those who take the time to view it properly ... it is breathtaking."  

Now imagine this breathtaking visual. I see a little green plant bursting through a crack in black asphalt. Its lime-green stems have pushed the thick, coarse pavement out of its path. The bright green leaves on this sturdy stem are reaching for the sun. Nothing can stand in its way. How is this visual like us living this gospel of Jesus Christ in this world?

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President David O. McKay said, "The purpose of the gospel is ... to make bad men good and good men better, and to change human nature."[1] That's it! The gospel of Jesus Christ is about change--constantly changing our hearts and strengthening our faith for the better. It's about progressing, becoming, and ascending upward.  

Alma asks us, "Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?"[2]  

Look back over your shoulder--see where you have been and how far you have come. President Henry B. Eyring said, "If you are on the right path ... it will always be uphill."[3]  

There is a Greek word, metanoia (metonya). The translation denotes a change--a change of mind, or, for example, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world. The Bible Dictionary tells us that word is "repentance." Today let's consider how "repentance" is like a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world  

First, I have to confess, as a child the word "repentance" was a scary word. I viewed it as the ultimate difficult task, the very last resort--almost as if "repentance" existed in a box tied up with a ribbon and put on a shelf. I thought, if I were lucky enough and careful enough to obey all the commandments, I could get through this life without ever having to take the box down, untie the ribbon, and experience the process of repentance that was inside! Wrong!  

I did not see the fresh view it would offer me like the plant emerging through the asphalt. But I was right on one thing: repentance is a gift, and it comes from God, who loves us with a love we cannot even begin to comprehend. There is nothing we can do that will diminish that love God has for us. And this gospel of Jesus Christ gives us hope that we can change and become better through repentance.  

Without repentance, we cannot progress or fulfill our purpose on earth. What makes this gift of repentance possible? It is the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He paid the price for our sins. He said, "I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent."[4] He is the one that allows us to feel the relief and peace that comes when the burdens are lifted and the asphalt has cracked open. Repentance is not optional for salvation; it is a commandment of God, and it comes out of God's love for us.  

So let's first look at how repentance helps us discover a fresh view about God.  

The scriptures tell us, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."[5] We come to know God and His Son as we draw closer to Them, and we draw closer to Them as we repent and change for the better. The very moment we kneel to pray and say "Father in Heaven," He is listening.  

Our prophets, past and present, have taught the following truths about our view of God:  

President Brigham Young spoke of the premortal existence when he said, "There is not a soul of you but what has lived in His house and dwelt with Him year after year, and yet you are (now) seeking to become acquainted with Him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know."[6]  

President Ezra Taft Benson added, "Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us."[7]   

President Thomas S. Monson: "I am certain that we left our Heavenly Father with an overwhelming desire to return to Him."[8]  

God wants us to draw closer and again discover that "fresh view" of Him, but how does He do it? The Lord said, "If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."[9]   

Elder Bruce C. Hafen said, "If you have problems in your life, don't assume there is something wrong with you. Struggling with those problems is at the very core of life's purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, stronger. If you're seeing more of your weaknesses, that just might mean you're moving nearer to God, not farther away."[10]  

My friends, no matter how brilliant we think we are or how resilient we attempt to be, we cannot do it alone. God, through our Savior Jesus Christ, can make more out of us and our weaknesses than we ever could. It's not about us. We cannot get through this life on our own. It's not about white knuckles. It's about bended knees. It's about coming to a broken heart and contrite spirit. It's about the consistency of doing the simple things in our lives while we try each day to strengthen our faith in God. It's about daily prayer. It's reaching for our scriptures and reading and then pondering His words. It's about doing everything we can to invite the Spirit of the Holy Ghost into our lives, and it's about the constant courage to repent--creating a steady, mighty change of heart. It's about looking up. It's about seeking the higher ground and discovering a fresh view of God.  

Number two: Let's look at how repentance helps us discover a fresh view of one's self.  

Elder Holland said in this past conference, "Believe in yourself, and believe in Him."[11] We can all relate to Nephi in 2 Nephi 4 as he experienced repentance. I choose to read phrases from verses 17 through 34. Listen for Nephi's change of heart:

O wretched man that I am!... My heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities....
...My heart groaneth because of my sins.

Here's the turning point: "Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted." Then turning to God and remembering, Nephi says,

My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions ... he hath preserved me....
He hath filled me with his love....
He hath confounded mine enemies....
...[And] he hath heard my cry....
Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul....
O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever."[12]

Nephi began his experience with the words "O wretched man that I am." He recognized his need for change. Each one of us has experienced that gnawing need to change and to repent of a thought, an action, or a habit, and it is painful. We think of ourselves at times as wretched. We may even delay repentance. Then we take that box called "repentance" off the shelf, open the lid, and look the contents straight in the eye. Then we, like Nephi, have that "nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted" moment, and we humbly seek the Lord's help.   

C. S. Lewis wrote The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a fantasy story for children. The story refers to Eustace, who hides in a dead dragon's cave to escape a sudden downpour. The dragon's treasure arouses his greed. He fills his pockets with gold and jewels, but as he sleeps, he is transformed into a dragon. As a dragon, he becomes aware of how bad his previous behavior was. He attempts to shed his dragon skin without success. It is only with the help of Aslan, the lion, who actually pulls off the thick, dark, knobbly-looking dragon skin, that he is able to become human again, though the process is painful.  

Eustace says, "The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.... And there was I--smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been."[13]  

Like Nephi in the Book of Mormon, and like Eustace in C. S. Lewis's fantasy, we experience, with the prodigal son, "coming to ourselves."[14] We recognize the need for repentance, and we discover a fresh view about ourselves. Our potential is greater than we think.  

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "God sent you here to prepare for a future greater than anything you can imagine."[15]  

There is a famous Belgian artist by the name of René Magritte. He painted a visual of himself seated before an easel with a paintbrush in his hand. He is looking to his left at a white egg sitting on a table, yet on the canvas in front of him, he is painting a large and beautiful bluebird with its wings outstretched. The painter in this painting sees more in the egg than meets the eye. He sees a great future and great potential. He does not just see the shell of an egg, but he sees the beautiful bird inside. Surely, God also sees in us great potential--much, much more than we could ever imagine!  

Someone once said, "Point your life in the right direction and prepare to be astonished!"  

Number three: How does repentance help us discover a fresh view of the world?  

President Thomas S. Monson said, "Today, we are encamped against the greatest array of sin, vice, and evil ever assembled before our eyes."[16] What's interesting is President Monson said that 50 years ago! I have watched as that wickedness has only increased. But we must not fear. We have the fulness of the gospel! The gift of the Holy Ghost allows us to discover a fresh "real" view about today's world and where we stand. And, I might add, living the gospel takes the fear out of living in the world.  

I love Romans 12:2: "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."  

We do not need to conform to worldly ways. Elder Robert D. Hales tells us when we repent and are baptized, we come into God's kingdom. Then he said, "By choosing to be in His kingdom, we separate--not isolate--ourselves from the world."[17]  

Jerry Earl Johnston, a columnist for the Deseret News, recently wrote an article entitled "When People Call Me a Sheep, I Say Thank You." He makes reference to the latest label Mormons have received: that of "sheeple." He wrote, "Some are viewing Mormons as half-sheep, half-people. Mormons follow the leader. They go with the group. And in today's world, that means they're mindless." He goes on to explain, "We live in an era that salutes the individual.... [We are a] self-absorbed society." He continues,

Both the plural and the singular for "sheep" is "sheep." The animals are of one mind and heart. Perhaps the time will come," he wrote, "when people realize that thinking less of yourself doesn't make you less; it makes you more.             
Like raindrops falling in a lake, maybe we'll see that sacrificing individuality means becoming immense.

Perhaps the day's coming when we'll know that losing ourselves is how we find ourselves.[18]

We are blessed to follow a leader, especially when that leader is a prophet of God, now President Thomas S. Monson. What the world does not understand is that President Monson is called of God. He holds all the priesthood keys on this earth and speaks to us for God Himself, to warn us and lead us in these latter days.  

An illustration of this truth was shared in a story told by President Harold B. Lee:

[A] traveler was leaving by boat from Stockholm, Sweden, traveling out into the Baltic Sea. To do so, the boat had to pass through a thousand or more islands. Standing on the forward deck, the traveler found himself becoming impatient because of what seemed to him to be a careless course. Why not a course near to this island or another and more interesting than the one the pilot had chosen? Almost in exasperation he was saying to himself, "What's wrong with the old pilot? Has he lost his sense of direction?" Suddenly he was aware of markers along the charted course that appeared as mere broom handles sticking up in the water. Someone had carefully explored these channels and had charted the safest course for ships to take.

President Lee continued,

So it is in life's course on the way to immortality and eternal life: "God's engineers," by following a blueprint made in heaven, have charted the course for safest and happiest passage and have forewarned us of the danger areas.[19]

When we follow the prophet, our course will lead us safely back home.  

If we are going to make a difference in this world, we must be different. We must be constantly progressing, repenting, and drawing closer to the Lord to discover a fresh "real" view of the world.  

My friends, today we have talked about discovering a fresh view about God, about one's self, and about the world. I hope you have discovered that that fresh view is within you. Let your heart constantly change for the better with the help of our Savior Jesus Christ. Like the little green plant, you are emerging through the asphalt, and God is helping you prepare for a future greater than you can imagine.

Plant growing from asphalt

I challenge you to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ and make the time to define all that is good about this magnificent gospel of Jesus Christ. Live it, breathe it, courageously defend it, and speak freely of it. Like my friend Doug speaking to his friend, we can discover a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world and share it comfortably with others--for all to see the view is breathtaking.  

I close with these words from Peter in the book of Acts: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."[20] That time of refreshing is the current Restoration, and it is unfolding right now. This is the last dispensation, the dispensation of the fulness of times, and we are all blessed to view it.   

I testify of the reality of our Father in Heaven, of His Son Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church on this earth.  

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


    


[1]From the film Every Member a Missionary, as acknowledged by Franklin D. Richards, CR, October 1965, pp. 136-137; see also Brigham Young, JD 8:130 [22 July 1860]). [2] Alma 5:14. [3] Henry B. Eyring, "Raise the Bar," BYU-Idaho Devotional, Jan. 25, 2005. [4] D&C 19:16; emphasis added. [5] John 17:3; emphasis added. [6] Discourses of Brigham Young, comp. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 50. [7] "Jesus Christ--Gifts and Expectations," in Speeches of the Year, 1974, Provo: Brigham Young University Press [1975], 313. We know Him!" [8] Thomas S. Monson, "Ponder the Path of Thy Feet," Ensign, Nov. 2014. [9] Ether 12:27. [10] Bruce C. Hafen, "The Atonement: All for All," Ensign, May 2004. [11] Jeffrey R. Holland, "Songs Sung and Unsung," Ensign, May 2017. [12] 2 Nephi 4:17, 19, 20-23, 28, 34.   [13] "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," Wikipedia, last modified April 24, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Voyage_of_the_Dawn_Treader. [14] See Luke 15:17. [15] Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Living the Gospel Joyful," Ensign, Nov. 2014. [16] Henry B. Eyring, "Armed With Righteousness," Ensign, March 2017. [17] Robert D. Hales, "The Covenant of Baptism; To Be in the Kingdom and of the Kingdom," Ensign, Nov. 2000. [18] Jerry Earl Johnston, "When People Call Me Sheep, I Say Thank You," Deseret News, Feb. 15, 2017. [19] The Teachings of Harold B. Lee [2000], 78-87.   [20] Acts 3:19.

Discovering a Fresh View

Audio of Sister Rosemary M. Wixom's Spring 2017 BYU-Idaho devotional address.


Interview with BYU-Idaho Radio

Audio of Sister Rosemary M. Wixom's interview with BYU-Idaho Radio before her Spring 2017 BYU-Idaho devotional address.