For the past 8 years, I have been able to participate in the seminary and institute programs. I can still remember my early mornings at seminary like it was just weeks ago. Every week that I see my instructor Sister Mary MacEachern at church, I am reminded of the mornings we spent together studying the scriptures. Sometimes it was even just her and I but we would sing the hymns together and talk about what we were learning from the scriptures.
Institute provided me with a change of pace. Since institute happens on a weekly basis, I have found that I have begun to value the time so much more that I spend at institute. Attending institute provides me with an escape from my other weekly activities. Sometimes it even provides an escape from assignments and studying, but in the end I know I have to go back and work on those things. I have learned how to manage school work, part-time work, family, church callings and institute on top of it all. The past couple of years have been filled with ups and downs, lots of fun times but also times of hardship and trial. I tend to get stressed very easily with my school work, but attending institute helped me to have an hour or so of relaxation, provided by the spirit.
We learned about Enos. Enos said he wrestled with the Lord before he received a remission of his sins. We learn that we need to work for our repentance, we can't just say I'm sorry. He said "and my soul hungered" and he prayed to the Lord in mighty prayer all day and all night, he even prayed for his enemies. We see that Enos is non-judgemental, forgiving, compassionate and, we too should follow this example. Then, the Lord said unto him, "ENOS, thy sins are forgiven thee". Because of his faith in Christ, his guilt was swept away. When we are forgiven of our sins, we are prepared to share those feelings with others. I have learned over the past year or so that we need to preach repentance. We need to help others feel that they can in fact come back to Christ and find a remission of sins in His atonement.
WE HAVE TO RELY ON THE LORD...but only if we choose to do as Alma instructs in Mosiah 18:9-10 and STAND as a WITNESS. In our society today, it will become increasingly important to show who we are, as members of this church by serving one another, bearing one another's burdens and comforting those who stand in need of comfort. When we stand as a witness of God at all times, and in all things and in all places, His Spirit will pour more abundantly upon us! This should be the desire of our hearts.
We also had the opportunity to have a couple of discussions about GRACE this year in institute. 2nd Nephi 25:23 says that "It is by grace that we are saved, after all WE can do". The Bible Dictionary defines grace as "receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left on their own". From these discussions I learned that after I have done my best...the Lord will help me.
Brother Cartier taught me this year THERE IS NOTHING THAT I CAN'T HANDLE. When we are faced with trials and perhaps even afflictions, the Lord says "I can help you with that" because he understands what we are going through. We also however need to learn to accept His will in our life, even if that means something we didn't hope for. Learning to accept his will in our life can be challenging, but he knows the whole picture. We receive personal direction because we are unique and we have different experiences. I may see something as a struggle while someone else may see it as less of a challenge. We know that the Lord won't give us anything that we can't handle. He knows what we are capable of and he knows what challenges will strengthen us.
Finally, I have always loved scriptures the refer to youth. Alma 37:35 says "Learn wisdom in thy YOUTH; yea learn in thy YOUTH to keep the commandments of God". I have been fortunate enough to have grown up in the church and blessed to have gone to youth programs and activities. Even now as I have moved up into Relief Society and Young Single Adults, I continue to see the importance of the standards that I learned in my youth. I have also learned the importance of gaining education. Even though I am unsure what my future will hold, I know the Lord has great things in store for me because I try my best to seek out education, employment and volunteer opportunities. Through my institute experience of learning and studying the scriptures, I will be better prepared for temple marriage and to help my future family learn wisdom and truth.
Understanding these life lessons and the gospel principles found in the scriptures will also help me to go forward each day knowing that there is a greater plan ahead and that I can achieve what the Lord requires of me. -Gordon B. Hinckley has taught:
"Rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. I hope you will not nag yourself with thoughts of failure. I hope you will simply do what you can in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass"