Claire Haynie is a senior at Brigham Young University studying history. As she prepares to graduate later this year, she reflects on how both her school and spiritual studies over the years have helped her find balance and abundance in life.
In the Gospel of John, it is recorded that Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." He invites us to partake in the life He offers—not just a meager portion of a life, but something abundant and vital, something which will fill us to the brim, even to overflowing. As a high school student I was sure that the only way I would find the abundant life was to look many years in the future to the day when I would be married and have a carload of children. Now as a 24-year-old single college student, I still seek that life, that abundance, but I have found that even without that perfect picture, my life is abundant. There are moments when I know for sure that for now, I am living an abundant life. Such abundance is not easily gained but rather it is the result of concerted effort to balance the forces that sometimes try to pull life apart. A balanced life is an abundant life.
There are distractions of all sorts, things vying for attention and demanding moments that seem to add up to more than what one day can offer. Life is a balancing act. I often must remind myself that my primary reason for being here, being in school, is to do just that, be in school. But underlying all of that, I have to remind myself that the purpose of my being here, being on earth, is to come to know my Father in Heaven.
I feel very strongly that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. He gives us opportunities to use the gifts He has given, and if we squander those chances, they tend to dwindle until there aren't many left. I felt strongly as a little girl that the Lord had blessed me with a sharp mind, and I was to use it to further His work. As a 24-year-old, I'm still not sure exactly what that will look like, but here I am, about to graduate from college, and I feel that I have been pretty much on the right path. Key to that feeling is the knowledge that my study has not only been one of secular endeavor but also spiritual expansion. Learning in the light of faith, by that light, I have been blessed to experience the balance needed for both secular and spiritual growth.
In a world religions class, this was perfectly modeled. In the process of studying objectively the various faiths that dot the world, my own faith was strengthened. As I delved into their holy books, I found more truth to add to that which I was gaining through my study of the LDS scriptures. In the words of the Qur'an and the Baghavad Gita I have found truth. In my study as a history major, I have found truth in the annals of history and the records of civilizations both ancient and modern. As I have first sought to anchor myself in spiritual study through reading and pondering the scriptures daily, I tend to see the rest of the world and the rest of my study through a lens of holiness.
I'm not a missionary anymore, so I'm not expected or encouraged to devote the same amount of time to my study of the scriptures, but I know that the power they possess is something that I have to have in my daily life. Likewise, if I give too much focus to my secular learning, I lose sight of what is truly important. So it comes back to the principle of balance. Prophets for years through hundreds of talks have pled with Church members to put first things first and keep their priorities straight. When the Lord comes first, everything else just comes together, perhaps not in the way we envision, but in the way it was meant to be. When we give time to Him, the time will be made available to accomplish all else that is required of us, no matter what else may endeavor to distract us. We can trust that.
I sought to regain the abundance I once had. As He often does, God answered my pleas in the form of another person. My best friend, feeling the similar pangs of mission missing, helped me to see how to balance my life and find abundance. It came down to figuring out priorities, making sure the Lord was still first in my life, but also realizing that work and school and a social life were also important things. The truth is, the Lord gives us those things—the chance to work, the opportunities to expand our minds, and a social circle—to offer us abundance. When they are pursued with a pure heart, He is in all of them. When one of those things is out of balance, when I spend too much time or energy on one of those things, I can feel that my life is out of balance. As Elder Oaks has said, “Any virtue taken to the extreme can become a vice.”
And so it is with life: if we seek balance and abundance in our lives, we will find it. The Lord blesses those who seek. And if we can't figure it out on our own, the Lord sends people to us who can help us regain the balance we may have lost. So whether we are single or married, old or young, we can find abundance through balanced living. Thank heavens for that.
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