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.”

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As we are now many months into the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought I might share some of what I have learned. 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. Graduation ceremonies, marriages, and funerals have been canceled or postponed or altered in some way. I feel great compassion for all who have suffered. At the same time, Wendy and I have learned so much. Even through clouds of sorrow, we have found some silver linings. 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. We’ve also learned fear, isolation, and loss can be mitigated by immersing oneself in caring for other people. Countless healthcare professionals have risked their own lives to care for others. Farmers, pharmacists, truckers, grocers, and others have risked their own health to serve the urgent needs of others. Dear friends, the road ahead may be bumpy, but our destination is serene and secure. So, fasten your seatbelt, hang on through the bumps, and do what's right. Your reward will be eternal. In 1831 the Lord made a promise to his Saints. It still applies to each of us today: “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:6).

A post shared by Russell M. Nelson (@russellmnelson) on

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.”

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During this COVID-19 pandemic, it has been interesting for me to have so many meetings, trips, and public speaking assignments canceled and to spend more time with myself. That is something that I don’t get a lot of opportunity to do. For any of us, it’s an interesting experience to be the only person in the room and ask yourself whether you like the company. Personally, I’d say that there are some things I like about Jeff Holland, but some other things need work and improvement. I like to call this time alone with yourself “character time.” It’s a good exercise to ask hard questions and hope you like what you’re able to answer. In my normal life, I would have a few moments each day to pray and be in the scriptures. Now, I’ve had day after day where I can spend hours praying and being in the scriptures. That is a luxury that I didn’t know I’d ever have again. 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. The scriptures testify of God’s hope that we will turn to him voluntarily—His hope that we will choose to be reflective, righteous, and contemplative in a way that will all lead to His grand purpose and to our improvement. There are many ways that we can learn to be more careful, more thoughtful, more grateful, more spiritual—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.

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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.”

We are all at different stages in life, and we all have different blessings and different challenges. Maybe you are…

Posted by Michelle D. Craig on Wednesday, August 5, 2020

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.”

We sometimes get so caught up in the grind of everyday life that we fail to recognize the sublime voice of the Spirit…

Posted by Dieter F. Uchtdorf on Friday, August 7, 2020

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.”

The True Power of Temple Work

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. Through our covenants and ordinances, we have access to the power of Godliness in our lives—no matter our circumstances. That power of Godliness comes because we've entered into a covenant that's been part of an ordinance. And as we keep that covenant, the power of Godliness can be in our lives.Until our temples fully reopen, I pray that we can keep our covenants, and by doing so, access the power of Godliness in our everyday 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.https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/how-we-can-access-the-power-of-the-temple-during-covid-19

Posted by Dale G. Renlund on Friday, July 31, 2020

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.

As a young girl, I spent most of my childhood in a “forest” near my home. It was a magical place to me. The trees are…

Posted by Lisa L. Harkness on Wednesday, August 5, 2020