This week on social: How to turn alone time into ‘character time,’ according to Elder Holland, Elder Uchtdorf and Sister Craig

The COVID-19 pandemic has given many people more time to themselves as they practice social distancing. In the last week, several Church leaders have shared ways to use personal time to build character and one’s relationship with Heavenly Father.

In an Aug. 5 Instagram post, President Russell M. Nelson shared some of what he’s learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I have felt great sorrow about this pandemic. I have mourned with families who have lost loved ones. Many have lost jobs. Some have struggled to find adequate food and supplies. ... I feel great compassion for all who have suffered,” he wrote.

At the same time, he and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, have found silver linings. For instance, “Many families have re-enthroned their homes as sanctuaries of faith. Many better understand how important the family is and that it really is ordained of God, with an eternal destiny.”

While the road ahead may be bumpy, the destination is serene and secure, he wrote. “So, fasten your seatbelt, hang on through the bumps, and do what’s right.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has had many meetings, trips and public speaking assignments cancelled, resulting in more personal time.  “That is something that I don’t get a lot of opportunity to do,” he wrote in an Aug. 2 Instagram post.

Elder Holland likes to call this time alone “character time.” He wrote, “It’s a good exercise to ask hard questions and hope you like what you’re able to answer.”

He has had many days where he can spend hours praying and reading scriptures — what he describes as a luxury. “I hope when things go back to normal — whatever normal is going to be — that I don’t forget the feelings and experiences I’ve had during these months of reflection and solitude.”

There are many ways that each person can learn to be more carefully, thoughtful, grateful and spiritual, Elder Holland wrote, “and I believe that for many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic is one of those ways. We would be foolish to miss out on this sacred opportunity to search our souls, do a little repenting, and look for how we can be better and kinder.”

In an Aug. 5 Facebook post, Sister Michelle Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, wrote that everyone is at different stages in life with various challenges and blessings. “But my guess is that each one of us, in quiet moments, feels a homesickness in our souls. An inner longing for our heavenly home and our heavenly parents,” she wrote.

Sister Craig has struggled to know if she’s doing what the Lord wants her to be doing in her busy life. It’s easy to focus all of one’s energy and time on weaknesses. “Although easier said than done, what would change if we took that time and that energy and focused instead on becoming, on intentional discipleship, on Jesus Christ?”

Become intentional about seeking and acting upon personal revelation and direction, repenting, and getting up and moving forward each time you fall short, Sister Craig advised. In doing so, “God’s miracles in your life will become increasingly more apparent to you.”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote in an Aug. 7 Facebook post that people can easily be caught up in the day-to-day grind of life and fail to listen to the Spirit.

“Can we hear the gentle call of our beloved Savior, who invites us to come and follow Him? Do we hear His voice?” he asked in the post.

Heavenly Father is reaching out to each of His children. “I promise you that God will guide your steps as you seek to hear Him. Jesus Christ will go before you. He will send His angels to surround you and ‘bear you up.’ He will cause all things to work together for your good.”

On Aug. 3, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a video titled “The True Power of Temple Work” on his Facebook page.

Because the Church strives to be a good global citizen, temples were closed in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

“Although our access to the temple right now is limited, it doesn’t change the impact that the temple can have on us in our lives,” he wrote in the post accompanying the video. “Through our covenants and ordinances, we have access to the power of Godliness in our lives — no matter our circumstances.”

By keeping covenants made in the temple, each person can access the power of Godliness each day of their lives. “When the day comes for us to attend the temple again, our hearts and our spirits will be hungry for the experiences of the temple. That desire, that hunger, will result in a powerful temple experience.”

Sister Lisa Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, wrote about a unique forest she grew up near when she was a young girl. The unique trees that made up this “forest” can only be found in the Mojave Desert in California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada, can live for hundreds of years and grow up to 50 feet tall.

“Pioneers are said to have named this species the ‘Joshua tree’ because it mimicked the Old Testament prophet Joshua waving them on toward the promised land,” Sister Harkness wrote in an Aug. 5 Facebook post. “Joshua was a type of Christ, who leads all the faithful into the ultimate land of promise, the presence of Heavenly Father.”

She invited readers to consider how to apply Joshua’s admonition to “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). She also shared a link to her Feb. 11 BYU–Idaho devotional address on the same subject.

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