It’s Dangerous to Go Alone

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week we’re covering the priesthood session of the April 1989 General Conference

When I read Elder Scott’s talk, Trust in the Lord, and got the part where he said, “I repeat: Don’t face the world alone. Trust in the Lord,” I knew what the title of this post was going to be. For those not in the know (and I had to Google to confirm I remembered the details right), the “It’s dangerous to go alone!” meme is from the 1986 NES video game The Legend of Zelda. Good advice for young heroes setting off to rescue princesses. Even better advice for all of us, and that’s never felt more universally relevant than in 2020. I mean, things are crazy, right? Crazy.

It’s important to have a clear-eyed view of the dangers that we face, but it’s also important not to let ourselves ever be overwhelmed or cowed by the darkness. Things are crazy, but we’re not alone. That’s the message of one of my favorite songs, Image of the Invisible by Thrice.

The chorus is impossible for me not to shout/sing along with:

we all were lost now we are found
no one can stop us or slow us down
we are all named and we are all known
we know that we’ll never walk alone

Not only is it important to keep fear at bay when we think about the confusing difficulties that surround us, but it’s also important to realize that the difficulty of this world is by design. That’s a major theme–perhaps the major theme–of the series of posts I’ve been writing for Public Square (starting with this one). And it’s exactly what Elder Scott reminded us in his talk:

In many ways, the world is like a jungle, with dangers that can harm or mutilate your body, enslave or destroy your mind, or decimate your morality. It was intended that life be a challenge, not so that you would fail, but that you might succeed through overcoming.

Two other quotes from Elder Scott’s talk really stood out to me. The first is a dose of tough love.

Has one of you ever had the feeling you are walking alone down a dark tunnel that gets ever more depressing? No one seems to care? Life gets more and more complicated, and discouraging? You may have been following a path many others have trod. It often begins with self-pity, then self-indulgence, and, if not checked, leads to gross selfishness.

Unless overcome by serving others, selfishness leads to serious sin, with its depressing feelings and binding chains. It is the crowbar Satan uses to open a heart to temptation in order to destroy agency. He would bind mind and body through crippling habits and separate us from our Father in Heaven and His Son by cultivating selfishness.

If you have had such feelings of depression, turn around—literally turn your life around. The other end of the tunnel is filled with light. No matter where you have been or what you have done, that light is always available to you. Satan will try to convince you that you have gone too far to be saved. That is a lie. You will need some help to get started. The scriptures are a good place to begin. A father, mother, brother, sister, bishop, or friend will help. As you move nearer the light through repentance, you will feel better about yourself and more confident in your future. You will rediscover how wonderful life really is.

The second is a practical reminder to focus on doing the little things consistently right so that–when unplanned crises strike–you will be ready.

Getting through the hazards of life requires understanding, skill, experience, and self-assurance like that required to sink a difficult basket under pressure. In the game of life, that is called righteous character. Such character is not developed in moments of great challenge or temptation. That is when it is used. Character is woven quietly from the threads of hundreds of correct decisions (like practice sessions). When strengthened by obedience and worthy acts, correct decisions form a fabric of character that brings victory in time of great need.

Righteous character provides the foundation of spiritual strength that enables you to make difficult, extremely important decisions correctly when they seem overpowering.

I got a lot out of this talk, and so I’m going to leave it here. 

After all, I’ve got to get to work redoubling my efforts to apply this council in my life.

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