I’ve been off of my mission for six years, and I’ve realized recently that I’m nothing like the person I was when I first got off of my mission. I rarely pray and read the scriptures, I only sometimes attend church, and when I do, I stay for just an hour. I want to get back to where I was (active in church, consistently in the scriptures, doing home teaching, progressing spiritually in life) — but that reality seems very far away. Any advice?
— Off Track
Dear Off Track,
I saw a quote the other day that said, “We’re just one decision away from getting back on track.” Or in other words, while change doesn’t happen instantaneously, the decision to change can, and there is power and divine help when we choose to face the path that leads to the Lord.
For you, that deciding moment is now.
As you pursue increased discipleship, I want to encourage you to avoid looking back to who you were when you finished your mission. You were a different person, with different challenges and different responsibilities. Instead, look forward to who you can become with your increased experience, new understanding of repentance, and even deeper desire for righteousness. All of your experiences — even this time of being off track — can ultimately be for your good.
All successful change starts with improving your small habits.
Commit to doing the following things every day:
1. Praying in the morning out loud. Use this time to share with Heavenly Father where you feel you are, and where you’d like to be. Ask him to give you the power to keep your commitments. Ask him to help you meet people who will support you in your efforts to change.
2. Listening to one conference talk a day or reading one chapter from the Book of Mormon. This regular practice will elevate your thoughts about yourself, your potential and the world around you. The gospel messages will help you think more positively and provide direction on how to keep moving forward.
3. Taking a 20 minute walk. I include this because regular exercise helps with mood, self-esteem and mental focus — all helpful ingredients as you work to improve.
Commit to these changes for three weeks and then evaluate. Do you feel more motivated to serve in your calling? Have you stayed at church for three hours, or do you feel ready to add that to the list of your commitments? Do you feel closer to the Lord? My testimony is that you will.
In summary, decide today. Do not look back; look forward. Commit to small and consistent improvements and work with the Spirit to create additional goals and plans. With this process, your future is brighter and greater than your past.
Let us know how things go.
Readers: How do you keep yourself “on track”? Can you relate to this reader’s experience? How would you advise?