Sunday, October 10, 2010

Holding True

Sometimes when I'm trying to make the right choices in life, I feel like Prince Philip; at the edge of a cliff and facing a fire-breathing dragon determined to make me fall. It's hard to see the way to safety when the dragon before you seems too large to conquer. But it is in those moments when the Spirit whispers to me that if I hold true, I will overcome whatever in my life that is striving to bring me down. Flora reminded Prince Philip of the sword of truth held in his hand, and then commanded the sword to "fly swift and sure, that evil die and good endure!". The death of opposition in our lives probably won't be as dramatic as the downfall of Maleficent, but it can be just as sure if we hold fast and hold true.

But what does it mean to be true? It is used often in the scriptures, and by modern prophets and teachers. I first remember the word true being used to describe the sons of Helaman. "And they were all young men and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all- they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted." (Alma 53:20) In this scripture, being true is portrayed as the most vital of characteristics held by these young men.

Wanting to know an exact definition of true, I looked in the dictionary and found these words used to describe true: reliable, unfailing, sure, firm in allegiance, loyal, faithful, steadfast. I especially loved the last 3- firm in allegiance, loyal, and steadfast. That's always how I pictured the sons of Helaman- consistently doing what they knew to be right. And then I thought about Heavenly Father and Jesus, the best examples of what it means to be true. God is unfailing. He is sure and reliable. God is firm in his allegiance to the principles of the gospel, and is steadfast in His relations with His children.

In the scriptures, Jesus is often described as being true. He "was the true light" (John 1:9). He says of Himself "my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven" (John 6:32). Jesus taught "he that sent me is true" (John 7:28). He asks "will [ye] not receive the strength and nourishment of the true vine? Yea, will [ye] not come unto the true fold of God?" (1 Nephi 15:15). And He says "I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (D&C 93:2).

So for me, being true requires that I be like God. Firm, reliable, steadfast, and unfailing in my commitment to the truth. But it's one thing to know what it is to be true. It is another thing to hold true. How do we become like the sons of Helaman? Like Stephen who was martyred because he would not deny Christ (Acts 7)? Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego who were thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship a golden image (Daniel 3)? Or like Joseph Smith who was just a boy when persecution began to rage against him but simply stated "I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for say that I had seen a vision, yet it was true...I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it." (Joseph Smith History 1:25)

President Hinckley said, "We believe in being true. How very important it is to be true to ourselves. Each of us has a thing we call a conscience. We know the difference between right and wrong. We do not have to be constucted concerning what is good, and what is evil. To be true to ourselves means being an example of righteous living in all situations and circumstances."

Shakespeare wrote, "To thine own self be true,/ And it must follow, as the night the day,/ Thou canst not then be false to any man." (Hamlet Act 1 Scene 3).

To hold true we must know what we believe, and we must act on this belief with the best of our abilities. We must have personal virtue. We must be honest. We must always strive to stay on the straight and narrow path that leads back to Heavenly Father.

There are so many stories throughout the scriptures and in the lives of the modern day prophets that reflect an ability to hold true. It's never easy and we often feel as though the dragon that is Satan is thwarting all our efforts to succeed. But if we arm ourselves with the whole armour of God, and hold true to His principles, our swords of truth will also fly swift and sure and we will come off conquerors.

Stories of people who held true:
Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 39-41)
Esther (Esther 2-7)
Job (That whole, big mess- great example!)
Daniel (Daniel 1, 6)
Paul the Apostle (2 Timothy 4:6-8 his final testimony)
Nephi (1 Nephi 3:7- Mr Go and Do)
Captain Moroni (Alma 48:11-17; most of the war chapters)