“Have you ever had an experience where you notice a particular make, model, or color of a car on the road, and then it seems like you can’t escape seeing it all over the place?” asked Sister Tracy Y. Browning. In her devotional address at BYU on Tuesday, Sister Browning, the second counselor in the Primary General Presidency, said that this phenomenon is known as “frequency illusion.”
“Frequency illusion has two parts: First, the perception that an experience has increased in frequency — meaning you suddenly start to see yellow Volkswagen Beetles everywhere. Second, the belief that this experience wasn’t occurring with that same frequency previously — you can’t remember ever seeing so many yellow Volkswagen Beetles before in your life.”
Using this analogy, Sister Browning explained that the Lord often uses a similar process in spiritual learning. First, He calls attention to a certain principle or concept.
After the Lord has brought a certain principle to our mind, we start to notice it in multiple places, often where we hadn’t noticed it before, Sister Browning continued. Then, we recognize the purpose or possible message in this experience.
“In the context of spiritual learning, we wouldn’t call this an illusion, but we might say it’s an impression — the Lord’s way of helping us notice something that was always there but to which we had been blind.”
Sister Browning had an experience in which the Lord taught her through a similar pattern. She shared a time when the word “preserve” began to stand out to her as she read her scriptures. These impressions prompted several questions and new insights.
Upon looking up the definition of the word “preserve,” Sister Browning learned that it has several meanings, including, “To keep safe from injury or harm;” “To protect, to keep alive or intact;” and “to safeguard, secure, defend, shelter, shield and give sanctuary.”
One of the main impressions that was brought to Sister Browning’s mind during her studies was the question, “how can I preserve my faith in Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ and my relationship with Them?”
“This singular question called on me to apply all that I was learning about preservation to my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the covenants that I’ve made with Them. It led me to determine whether I had placed Them in the prevailing position on my personal list of values, allowing everything else in my life to flow from that most important relationship.”
As she pondered the way she was prioritizing the Lord in her life, the Spirit taught her another eternal truth — just as God asks us to place Him first in our lives, He does the same for all of His children.
Sister Browning shared four ways God works to preserve His relationship with us.
1. God sent us His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for us.
“A loving and wise Father sent us Jesus Christ to redeem us from the effects of sin, ensuring that we would not be left in a perpetual state of estrangement from God.”
Because of this sacrifice, God was given the power to succor us in our pains and create a way for us to return to Him again.
2. God has sent His word through scriptures and modern-day prophets and apostles.
Sister Browning said that another clear sign God values us is the preserving and protecting power of His word. He does so by giving us latter-day prophets.
“God delivers His living words to us through scriptural testaments but also by the mouths of living prophets and apostles.”
3. God has offered a deepened relationship and salvation through covenants with Him.
“The most important promises we make with God are the ones we make through covenant. These sacred agreements are the way God has worked with His children since the beginning of time.”
Making and keeping covenants can be a powerful guide in making righteous decisions, and Sister Browning urged those in attendance to partake of the sacrament every week and to frequently spend time in the temple.
4. God sent His Spirit to be with us.
Sister Browning testified that the Holy Ghost is the source of personal testimony and revelation.
“He can guide us in our decisions and protect us from physical and spiritual danger. Through His power, we are sanctified (or set apart, or made holy) as we repent, receive saving ordinances and keep our covenants.”