Melissa F. Western, associate professor of accounting, delivered Tuesday’s devotional address. She spoke on how principles of Christlike change enabled her to move past fear and realize her divine purpose.
While Western was raised in a Christian home, she explained, she eventually fell away from daily spiritual habits, consequently creating distance between her and God. Furthermore, she noted that principles of hard work and accountability that she had learned in her youth, though important, “were not sufficient to bring peace when trouble and heartbreak arrived.”
Life without Christ was often painful, lonely and confusing, she recollected.
“Before I understood the gospel plan,” Western explained, “a phrase that often escaped my mouth was, ‘I can’t handle this.’”
Years later, as she suffered through the intense heartache and anxiety of her divorce, Western decided to renew her faith. Reaching out to Christ, she began to feel lasting peace.
“That reformative year,” she recounted, “allowed me to become intimately associated with our Savior, Jesus, because He carried me through it.”
Western developed her faith through searching the book of James, acting according to personal revelation, meeting her new husband, Marc, and joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Through these experiences, she recognized the purpose of mortality.
“The purpose of this life,” she explained, “is to choose to become Christlike — to move our character closer to His.”
Years after her baptism into the Church, Western still encounters hardship.
“But thanks to Jesus — my Savior — I feel confident in my ability to keep swimming," she stated. ... "The gospel lens directed my gaze toward eternity and helped me see my purpose.”
To help us apply Christlike change in our lives, Western offered three principles:
1. Desire the presence of the Spirit and act according to its counsel
“Our Heavenly Father respects our agency,” Western explained.
"If we want Him on our team, we need to humbly request His Spirit with a heart ready to act."
As we demonstrate our willingness to submit to the will of God, we will receive life-changing direction from heaven.
2. Practice gospel principles
“I often hear people complain about certain gospel principles and commandments as if they are without purpose and merely a spiteful way to ruin our fun," she lamented.
However, through her journey to God, Western has developed a “strong testimony that the commandments are gifts from a loving Father who knows the many roads that lead to destruction.” Practicing gospel principles will help us feel God’s love and joyfully recognize how His commandments guide our paths to greatness.
3. Access godly power and see your full potential
This is a probationary time, where faith and character are meant to be tested.
“To navigate these challenges successfully,” Western believes that “we need access to power greater than our own — and that access comes through covenants.”
As we make and keep sacred covenants, we can have our gaze redirected “toward eternity and … see the reformative purpose of mortal experiences.” With this enlightened view of our lives, we move forward with strength and achieve our divine potential.
Western promises that exercising Christlike change in our lives will disperse fear and invite joy into our lives.
“No short-term setback can keep me from the eternal win, which only requires that I keep exercising faith in Jesus Christ, keep trying and keep repenting. I can do that,” she powerfully asserted, “and so can you.”
Next Address Lisa Valentine Clark, radio host of “The Lisa Show” on BYUradio, will deliver the next devotional address on July 20 at 11:05 a.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall.
Clark's remarks will also be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org (and archived for on-demand streaming), KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYUradio 107.9 FM and SiriusXM 143.