Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reality Shows and a Change of Heart

Millions of Americans tune in each week to NBC's The Biggest Loser. The reality TV show pits overweight contestants against each other in a weightloss competition. The winner goes home with hundreds of pounds lost and hundreds of thousands of dollars gained as a victory prize.

Successful contestants on The Biggest Loser always have a moment they remember that fuels their success. They remember waking up or looking in the mirror or talking to their kids and suddenly feeling motivated or disgusted or desperate-- at that moment, they know they have to change. 

There is a similar moment for the successful callers on The Dave Ramsey Show. These people have usually paid off tens of thousands of dollars in relatively short periods of time through disciplined budgeting. These people call in to scream, "I'm debt free!" as a rite of the victorious over debt. Very often, these recent fiscal independents say their path began with a moment when they realized they had to make changes.

In either case, a change of heart about their weight or their money motivates radical changes in their lifestyle. You make know others who have quit smoking or overcome some other habit in similar fashion. Paraphrasing Elder Packer, we see in these instances where the change of heart changes behavior more quickly than the study of behavior would have changed those behaviors.

We can have similar changes of heart with respect to many aspects of our lives. One awakening moment may change our view on health, money, politics, family, food storage, family history or a host of similar possibilities.

Manoah's wife had such a change of heart in Judges 13. Though barren, when an angel appeared to her and told her she would have a son, she gave up alcohol and unclean foods so the boy could be the Nazarene that would deliver Israel from the Philistines, as promised by the angel. The boy would be named Samson.

When Jonah was swallowed by a whale, he changed his heart and agreed to preach to the people at Ninevah. Subsequently, Ninevah repented and was spared.

The Brother of Jared was chastized for three hours when he had not prayed for several years. A change of heart resulted, and the Brother of Jared turned to the Lord frequently thereafter, including his prayer to make sixteen stones glow inside their barges.

Whether regarding parenting, missionary work, prayer or other important doctrines, we can have changes of heart that convert us to single principles. Still other scriptural examples show that we can also have a change of heart with broader strokes.

Job was completely converted when the devil assailed all that he held dear. Alma the Younger and Paul the Apostle both had miraculous changes of heart, despite being bitter opponents to the gospel beforehand, through the visitations of angels. King Lamoni, his father and an entire generation of Lamanites dramatically changed their lives and lifestyles with the help of only a few powerful moments. There are many, many others.

Once these moments are experienced, it is critical that we remember them. Laman and Lemuel also saw angels and changed their behavior, but slipped back into poor habits quickly. Yet Amulek remembered, and sustained beatings, the massacre of many of his people and the interrogation of men who wanted to kill him-- all on the strength he gained by remembering the change of heart he had when an angel asked him to feed the prophet.

We can also have a change of heart. Alma teaches that such a change will loosen the chains of hell, expand our souls and allow us to sing redeeming love (Alma 5:9). That kind of change will come by the word of God. Alma reminded:

"[Abinadi] preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts" (Alma 5:13).

It was similar for King Lamoni:

"And it came to pass that when Ammon arose he also administered unto them... and they did all declare unto the people the selfsame thing—that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil" (Alma 19:33).

Again, for King Benjamin's people following his sermon:

"And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually."
It is the same for us. As we study the scriptures, the teachings of the modern prophets and the inspired words of our local teachers and leaders, we will also experience a change of heart. We can eliminate our desire for evil that binds us down with the chains of hell and instead expand our souls with songs of redeeming love.
Like contestants on The Biggest Loser or listeners of The Dave Ramsey Show, we can be victorious over the obstacles in our path as we allow a change of heart to motivate us to righteous action. May each of us then seek to find and to follow a change of heart that will turn our lives to Christ and allow us to be saved in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father.

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