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BYU Devotional: The relational aspects of covenants

Ellie Young, associate professor of clinical psychology and special education delivered Tuesday’s Devotional address in the de Jong Concert Hall. Young spoke on keeping our covenants with the Lord in an uplifting and supporting way.

Young began by talking about her home in Wyoming. When she meets someone from her ancestral home, she sees a kindred spirit and long-lost friend. To Young, Wyoming means clean air, beautiful mountains, skiing, wide open spaces and sincere people.

“When we travel to Wyoming and cross the state line, my soul seems a bit more at ease and whispers, ‘You are home; these are your people; all is right with the world,’” Young said.

Devotional Highlights: The Transformative Power of Covenants | Ellie L. Young

Just as she feels a connection to Wyoming and the people there, gospel covenants connect us to each other and the Savior. Covenants bind us to Christ and because we are bound to him, we can become like him. Being bound to Christ means we know him and we feel his comforting love. We feel his guiding hand in our lives, and because we feel his amazingly generous and compassionate love, we have a desire to love as he loves, Young emphasized.

“When I really understand God’s love, I understand that He will accept my whining, doubting heart and help me to become increasingly more understanding of His ways, and increasingly compassionate and charitable over time. Through building a covenant, steadfast relationship with the Savior, we change,” Young said.

Our relationship with the Savior can be similar to that of a therapist and their client. One of the key factors that creates change in therapy is the warm, trusting relationship between the two people. Trust grows and deepens over time, and the tender, scary and painful pieces of what brings us to counseling can be explored so healing can begin and change can occur.

“Christ promises that he will take the scary, painful and tender parts of our stories and that he will help us make sense of what’s happening. He will then help us find new ways to move through what is difficult. Because Christ is the expert counselor, he always is understanding, accepting and willing to listen to our stories again and again,” Young said.

Young then told a story of a companion on her mission in Louisiana. This companion proved difficult to get along with for Young. They had different ideas as to apartment cleanliness, air conditioning and rule-following. The companion was easygoing, and Young was frustrated at some of the rules not being kept. Young became frustrated that her campion was loved by the members and connected with those who were learning the gospel, while Young wanted to keep the rules.

After following her mission president’s advice to see her as God saw her, Young slowly saw that her cleanliness didn’t seem to matter to her as much and she appreciated her easygoing nature and flexibility as person-focused strength.

“The rules are important and have their place, but certainly there are times when we need to consider if we are prioritizing rules over people,” Young said.

Young then shared the story of the unexpected passing of her mother. Until this had happened, she had never fully understood what it meant to mourn with those who mourn. In this trying time, the Relief Society President and Bishop in her father’s ward showed compassion and sacrificed their time to help Young’s family. People brought food for her family, came to the funeral when it wasn’t convenient and sent flowers that still remind her of others’ generosity.

“Their generous and gracious acts helped us to feel the Savior’s love. We had a sense we were not alone at a time of deep sadness. Their efforts to keep their covenants, to comfort in Christlike ways, still mean so much to me,” Young said.

Keeping covenants requires practice, and like all things, we must be patient with ourselves. We will make mistakes. When we approach covenant keeping with a sense of adventure, we can allow ourselves a sense of enjoyment, with time and energy devoted to stopping and smelling the roses. When we have a sense of urgency and fear, it becomes more difficult to see and feel and meet the needs of those we can care for who need to be uplifted and supported.

Young then emphasized that, although covenant keeping and renewing may look the same for each of us, that is not the case internally. “Because our covenants are relational and reflect our individual relationship with the Savior, how I walk the covenant path is distinct to me. And how you walk the covenant path is distinct to you,” Young said.

Covenants that you make will change throughout your life. Covenants made in the temple at a young age will mean different things at different times of life. Taking the sacrament each week and renewing those baptismal covenants will look different each week as we change and grow, becoming more Christlike.

Young concluded by saying, “The purpose of the covenant path, or perfection, is about loving ourselves, loving others, the Savior and our Heavenly Parents deeply. This love transforms us continually as we seek it, trust it, feel it and strive to share it.”

Next Devotional: Michalyn Steele

Michalyn Steele, associate professor of law, will deliver the next BYU Devotional on Tuesday, June 25, at 11:05 a.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall.

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

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