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BYU Devotional: The path to transformative change

Pam Musil, associate chair of the department of dance, delivered Tuesday’s Devotional address in the de Jong Concert Hall about the importance of changing and transforming our lives in order to prepare to meet God.

Musil gave five principles necessary to recognize, accept and make the changes that the Lord requires of us.

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1. Pay attention to where you are going.

Musil shared a story of her young dancing experience: while her teacher called out steps and directions, her mind wandered to less important things. Consequently, her feet refused to do as the instructor wanted due to the lack of focus she put into her class. After doing poorly at a recital, Musil promised herself she would pay more attention and focus on getting the steps right.

On a grander scale, wandering attention can play a role in temporal and spiritual matters, with greater consequences.

“Paying attention to where we are going is one of the most fundamental things we can do in our process of becoming who we hope to become, and who the Lord wants us to become,” Musil said. “That one seemingly insignificant decision to pay closer attention to what mattered set me on the path toward my eventual profession as a dance educator.”

While there are many things, good and bad, that compete for our time and attention, our decision as to how we focus our energy determines the course of our life.

2. Stay on the path of daily practice.

If we create a pattern of focusing our energy on the things that matter most, adapting to change will be easier. Though transforming change sometimes occurs suddenly, it is most often seen through a gradual series of steps.

Musil compared change via daily, focused practice to intense dance training. Repeated exercises bring the dancer sore muscles, fatigue, frustration and doubt in the ability to succeed. However, the practice also bring a strong, athletic and expressive body to the dancer.

Like dancers dedicated to training, Musil said, “We have been promised that those who choose to stay the course in spite of mistakes, heartaches, doubt and discouragement will eventually emerge with strength of character and spirit that have been forged within the crucible of our daily struggles.”

When looking back, it can be easy to see that staying on the path of daily practice brings patterns of growth, transforming our character into more than we thought possible.

3. Embrace the path and have faith in its ability to lead us home.

Deep, transformative change requires faith in the possibility of the hoped-for result. This requires vulnerability to become the person the Lord wants of us. When we surrender our hearts and let go of our need to control, we can trust the Lord with all of our hearts.

“There have been several pivotal moments in my life when I have tangibly felt the presence of unseen hands guiding me from behind, directing me to where I should go,” Musil said. “Each time I have followed their direction I have been rewarded with unexpected outcomes and blessings that I never could have imagined for myself.”

4. Seek perfection through Jesus Christ.

When our burdens and need for control are surrendered, Christ can provide healing.

The world measures perfection as being entirely without fault, completely flawless. Media is advocating for an airbrushed world, filled with falsified images of a picture-perfect life. Dancers especially tend to measure themselves against this level of perfection, never missing a step or beat.

“The truth is, we can never achieve the kind of perfection these images suggest,” Musil said. “Though we may earnestly strive to be perfect in all of our actions and doings, each of us, all of us, have flaws, and all of us make daily mistakes.”

To become perfect through Christ is not an expectation, but an invitation. Perfection comes in him, bringing peace and making us whole.

5. Take time to be still.

Taking a step away from the distractions that draw our attention away from the things that matter most can provide clarity. Taking time to be still and recalibrate our priorities is important. Our refocused attention can help us stay on the path of daily practice and embrace the path the Lord has provided.

“In moments of stillness, our hearts are changed and transformed,” Musil said. “In moments of stillness, through the whisperings of the still, small voice, we come to know both the Father and His Son.”

Next Devotional: Elder Gary E. Stevenson

Elder Gary E. Stevenson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will deliver the BYU Education Week Devotional address on Tuesday, August 20, at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.

His remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv,, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYUradio.

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