Beyond The Checklist

033: Why Understanding Christ’s Covenant Promises Gives You a Framework for Resilient Faith || Sharla Goettl


[00:00:00] Darla: Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women podcast. I am Darla your host and I am very excited to be here. I’m always excited to be here because I love doing interviews. I love talking to other women, and I just believe that when we share each other’s stories and we hear each other’s stories, it binds us together as women and gives us a way to be a force that has to be reckoned with in this world. Today, my guest is Sharla Goettl, and I am really excited for the things that she is going to share with you today. So Sharla, welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much.

[00:00:54] Sharla: Oh, I’m so glad to be here. Thank you, Darla. I’m looking forward to this. 

[00:00:58] Darla: I am too. Will you just start off and just tell me a little bit more about you. 

[00:01:02] Sharla: Oh, I’d love to, I’m a mother of three teenage daughters. I’m a business owner. I love to travel. And I also am really concerned about the spirituality of our teenagers.

It’s something that I was spending many years thinking about and working to improve. I’ve been a youth leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for almost every year of my adult life. I’m currently serving as a stake young women’s president.

[00:01:31] Darla: We have a lot of parallel things. Anyone who knows me, anyone who’s followed me for any amount of time knows that I love teenagers. I really, I have always loved teenagers even before I had teenagers of my own. I just think that there is so much good that they are doing in this world. And if we, they can just get a little guidance, they’re going to do amazing things. They’re already doing amazing things.

So I really love, we’re going to dive into that a little bit more and talk about a book that you wrote. That’s called Spiritual Resilience: Leading our Youth to Go and Do. So you’ve taken all this experience that you’ve had and you wrote this book. So tell me what prompted the book. What made you decide to write it?

[00:02:05] Sharla: I never had a plan to write a book. This was not part of how I felt 2020 was going to go, but I felt really compelled to add my perspective to the conversation. So many parents were coming to me with reoccurring questions that came up over and over again from many different families. And I recognized that there were some underlying foundational truths that answered so many of these questions.

I felt like there were some gaps in the understanding of our teenagers. Even those who were graduating out of the youth programs and those gaps still remained. And so I was trying to determine what I could do to improve that process. What I could do to fill some of these gaps. I recognized that it was a widespread problem.

And yet I knew that there must be an answer available for this wide spread problem. I, to have an incredible amount of faith in our teenagers, I feel that they’re the ones who are going to come up with the great solutions. And they’re the ones who are going to come up with the innovative ways to solve these problems that we face all the time.

And so if they’re going into this process with gaps in their understanding, then that hinders the miraculous progress that I think is certainly going to be coming. I wanted very much to support them and I knew that in order to do I had to support the parents who are teaching them. So I wrote this book. It’s specifically written for parents and a boost of encouragement for them as they are striving to support their teenagers spiritual growth.

[00:03:42] Darla: That is so good because as parents of teenagers, even if you don’t have teenagers, yet you always need that boost. So I’m curious, what were some of the questions that you were getting that was prompting you to put this all together into a book? What were some of the questions that parents were asking you?

[00:03:57] Sharla: They focused a lot on whether or not they can trust Christ with this situation or this situation, but what about this situation? And it all boiled down to whether or not they could trust Christ with these really personal details of their lives, whether or not there was a path forward for them individually, whether there was a path forward for their teenager individually.

And so it’s been a glorious process to be able to point out to these parents ways in which Christ leads us on an individual customized path, ways that we don’t need to feel like we are placed in a spiritual highway that’s crowded and jocking for position amongst all the other families that are trying to go along the straight and narrow path.

It’s been wonderful to be able to point out those ways in which Christ teaches us and shows us doctrinally. And also through our experience that our path is very individual and he has the capacity to lead us one by one.

[00:04:59] Darla: Oh, that’s like the whole format of my podcast. It’s everything that I’m trying to share is that we have a unique journey.

I loved how you said that a customized journey. That’s just for us, like yes, to that. Completely. So what was your approach with the book? How did you help these parents answer those questions that does the Savior, is he able to address this issue with my teenager? What was your approach to that when you were writing the book?

[00:05:22] Sharla: First I needed to find I needed to find those scriptures that supported this belief that I felt was prompting me through the Holy Ghost. And I went searching through the most likely place for me to find it. I went searching through the scriptures trying to find examples of other teenagers.

And how did they handle their situations? I’m sure you could probably name off many teenagers who have had a miraculous impact on the development and the building of Christ’s kingdom. Just to name a few examples David or Mary, or Samuel, or Daniel, like there’s all of these examples. Nephi, however, is very unique.

We get to hear so much about Nephi’s life. We get to hear about his family. We get to hear about his his experiences. We get to hear about his development of faith and the challenges that he goes through one after another, through several chapters. Whereas these other teenagers that are abundant in the scriptures, we only get to hear maybe a chapter or even just a few verses about them, but Nephi, we get a depth of information about Nephi. So as I went searching for better answers for parents, I didn’t think I would find it quite as quickly as I did, but it’s all laid out in the Book of Nephi, and I never read it under the perspective of a parent.

I didn’t ever uncover these specific instances of how Nephi actually built the foundation of his faith. What is it that he knew? How was he able to do what he did? What motivated him to do and to make the choices that he ultimately chose to make? By uncovering those motivations and uncovering his step-by-step process, I was basically able to reverse engineer how he built his faith. And so now I’m just trying to explain that to parents so that they have the opportunity to support that, that engineering process of building faith in their own families. 

[00:07:24] Darla: You totally opened my mind to o. Nephi would not have been the first person that I thought of, but I love how you point out there is so much of building Christ’s church and the kingdom of God that happened with teenagers, like you, I haven’t thought of it quite in the same way that you just that you just talked about. That brought up a whole lot of new thoughts for me. I love that. I would love to know, personal experience, like how have you seen the things that you’ve learned from Nephi that you wrote about in this book, how have you seen that help you with the youth that you’re working with either in your calling with your own children? How have you seen that application and what does that look like? 

[00:07:59] Sharla: I feel like it goes step by step and Nephi really encompasses it in his very famous well beloved verse of 1 Nephi 3:7: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded for I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way that they may accomplish the things which he hath commandeth them. I think I got that exactly right.

[00:08:19] Darla: Yeah. I think it was word for word. 

[00:08:22] Sharla: But there’s a pattern there and I never uncovered the pattern before. It starts with, I will. What is it that covenanted to do? How do those covenants make a difference in our own life? How do those covenants bring us power? What about rewards do we gain? How does it impact our daily life?

I’m able to recognize that our covenants have very specific rewards for us. They are two-way promise. We make a promise, but there are some huge guarantees that are rewarded to us in return. And those guarantees give us the framework for a more resilient faith. Our covenants create the environment for faith to be resilient. Go and do. Nephi put action behind his faith, what is it that we’re asked to go and do?

How do we build that motivation to go and do more? It starts with for I know that Christ will provide a way for me. Nephi knew that Christ had an individual path for him. And so he was willing to follow it. He knew that he was being led to a place better than where he was before. We, as parents, do we really know and recognize that we’re being led to a place better than we were before?

Do we know that for our kids? Do our kids know that I’m feeling pulled in this direction and it feels unfamiliar. It doesn’t look the same as everyone else’s. Can this really be led by Christ? The answer is yes. Of course it can. Christ can lead you in the direction that’s right for you. And you need to follow the Holy Ghost, follow the promptings of the spirit to lead that individual path.

And that is completely within his power to do. I think it’s important for us to recognize the depth of promise that Christ has given us. He is basically telling us that everything you could ever want, your very deepest desires can be granted to you through Christ’s priesthood power.

It’s really that broad. And it’s really that all encompassing. When he says that his kingdom is ours or that we can inherit his power or that he is preparing a way for us. It really means that he’s wanting to give us everything that he has. I find that to be very motivating. 

[00:10:49] Darla: Very much. So how do you recommend that a parent teach about covenants and these promises to a teenager?

How do they, how do you recommend getting that across to them and helping them to understand it for themselves? 

[00:11:01] Sharla: First, I think it’s very important that teenagers understand and know the terminology that we use in the temple. It’s really important that they know what the five covenants are that we make and the endowment session.

We make the the covenants to keep the law of sacrifice, the law of obedience, the law of chastity, the law of consecration and the law of the gospel. It’s very important that parents talk to their teenagers about what these covenants are. Not only what does it mean for us to keep that promise, but what is it that we gain in return?

I think it’s important that parents teach their children the covenants that we make in the endowment session. There are five covenants that we make in that endowment session. It starts with keeping the law of the gospel and then the law of sacrifice, the law will be deviance, the law of chastity, and finally the law of consecration.

They build on one another. And there’s some specific rewards that we gain from keeping these covenants. In the law of the gospel we teach and we covenant to rely on the atonement of Jesus Christ and to use repentance often. But in return, we gain that promise of knowing that we can always be good enough. That no matter what we’ve done or where we are in life, we can repent and we can be made better.

And our efforts to progress are good enough for the Lord that we can constantly and consistently be making those steps to be better and better. And the law of obedience, we promise to obey the commandments of Christ, but in return, we also gain that promise that he won’t give us any commandment that we cannot personally keep.

In the law of sacrifice, we promise to put the laws of Christ as our first priority, but in return, we also gain that promise that our sacrifices will always be worth it. Lehi’s sacrifice was worth it. Nephi’s sacrifice was worth it. And we have that promise through the temple that our sacrifices will always be worth it. 

In the law of chastity we promise to keep ourselves sexually clean, but in return, the promise that we gain is that our capabilities will be greatly increased because we are not distracted by the many factors that chastity or the breaking of chastity can bring into our lives. We’re given added power by keeping the law of chastity.

It’s not just a matter of what we cannot do. It’s also a matter of all the things that we are more able to do because we keep the law of chastity. And then finally in the law of consecration, we promise to give Christ everything that we have, but in return, he promises to give us everything that he has.

It’s a massive promise. There isn’t anything else that could be worth more than that. If teenagers really understood all that is promised to them in more relevant yet, humble and honest ways. I believe their motivation to act in their own individual goodness increases. 

[00:14:10] Darla: Powerful is the word that I’m thinking because I think sometimes we have a little bit of a gap where we don’t focus on the promises. We just focus on, like you said, I was thinking law of chastity is a great example of that. Like we just focused on don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do this, but we don’t always focus on the promises and the way you just said that was beautiful.

They’re just rich and beautiful and powerful promises that we gain when we do those things. It’s a two way promise. It’s a covenant. So I think that is so powerful even for parents to understand better. And so once we understand that better, we can go out and help our children to understand that.

And I can see how that’s building spiritual resilience when your children can know for themselves. And dig in and do that like Nephi did, that is spiritual resilience. That’s so powerful. Thank you for sharing that. 

[00:14:57] Sharla: I’m glad how you noticed that when parents can teach it, it has so much more meaning. I don’t think you could talk to a child about spiritual resilience for 300 hours. I still don’t think that it would be relevant for them unless they can see a life-size example and parents are in the best position to provide that life-size example.

They need to know what does a person who is spiritually resilient act? What do they talk like? How do they interact with people? It’s a million choices throughout the day. 

[00:15:29] Darla: Totally. 

[00:15:30] Sharla: You can never really can never describe it. You can never write a book about it. It would have to be something that a child exemplified in someone else’s life. So as parents can more deeply understand the promises that are available to send that to them, then their conversations change. Their word choices change.Their acceptance changes, and that affects the learning of their teenagers. 

[00:15:56] Darla: I can see that. Thinking about repentance. I was raised, like my parents were always right. They did everything, I’m not saying bad things about my parents. That was my perception as a teenager. My parents can’t do anything wrong. I’ve tried to switch that up a little bit and I tell my kids. “Hey, I messed up and I’ve got to repent for this.” And if I need to ask for their forgiveness, I try to do that. And I, so I think that we can not only just sit down and have these conversations, but we can just be an example of using the atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives. And applying those promises to our own lives.

I think that is so good. The way that you’ve stated it, I cannot wait to read your book. This is so great. And just teaching our kids we’re all making those covenants, but we have our own customized journey. Like we can do that. That’s such good insights there. I really love that. 

Another thing we talked about before that I want to make sure we get to, because I’m very curious about this. I’m looking at my notes because you said that we can re-imagine the symbols of righteousness. Okay. So let’s dive into that. What does that mean?

[00:16:55] Sharla: So there are many symbols of righteousness that I have in mind, such as there’s the iron rod. There’s the straight and narrow path. There’s the doorway, the gateway, right? These symbols can sometimes feel exclusive even elusive. Sometimes they can feel alienating or that we don’t fit into the mold that symbol is describing.

Unfortunately, I feel like that is a human construct. That’s a human interpretation of a really defined symbol that Christ has given us. I think we need to imagine how these symbols apply. For example, knowing perfectly well that we are never going to be perfect, Christ gave us repentance because he knew that we would need to take the sacrament over 4,000 times.

He knew that we would need that in our lives. And so he provided it, the iron rod isn’t meant to be this guide for people who already know the way to go. The iron rod is a perfect example in that it stretches off into the distance and it doesn’t matter where we are in relation to Christ, we have this iron rod that we can hang to. And that we can hold onto that will take us directly to him. The gateway is it might be a door that only fits one person at a time or only a few at a time.

But you remember that as you walk through a doorway, you retain your same .Independence. You retain your same virtue and self you’re true to yourself as you walk through that door. And so when Christ gave us that symbol, he recognized that we’re still the same person before we walked through. And we’re the same person after we walked through. We retain our agency and our own individualism. 

The straight and narrow path, I think is one that often gets misconstrued. 

[00:18:55] Darla: Really want to hear your thoughts on this because I’ve had a lot of thoughts about this. I want to hear what you think. 

[00:18:59] Sharla: Let me share with you a scripture perfectly illustrates what I mean.

Okay. So this scripture is found in both Isaiah and the Book of Nephi. And it says, and it came to pass that in the last days when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills and all nations shall flow onto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye,, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. And he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his path. For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 

So I want you to recognize a couple of things about that verse. One, it talks about multiple ways and multiple paths. It doesn’t talk about one. Also it mentions many nations as if there are many starting points.

Instead of envisioning the straight and narrow path as like I said earlier this highway that leads up a mountain side, a crowded highway with traffic jams, where people are trying to jockey for position, right? No one is going to get elbowed off this cliff of spiritual marriage that is not Christ.

Let’s instead imagine many paths around the base of a mountain and they’re all leading upward. They’re all guided by the Holy Ghost. They’re all leading towards Christ on the mountain top. And each of these ways, each of these paths might go through different terrain. They might face different obstacles, but they’re each equally capable of meeting the top and they’re each capable of navigating their own individual challenges. Can we instead imagine straight as not meaning straight like a line, but straight meaning that it leads directly from where we are, wherever we are, directly to Christ. Straight as in nondistracted. Straight as in, from me to Christ, from me to where he wants me to be.

And then narrow, instead of envisioning narrow as if it means you only get a few choices let’s instead imagine narrow as meaning individual. This path is for me. This path is specifically customized for the knowledge that I need to gain or the experiences that I need to have in order to have a better perspective so that I can fill that puzzle piece that I’m missing.

Can it, instead of meaning a straight as an arrow, can it also mean individual and led by the Holy Ghost in such a way that it’s going to get me to Christ in the most efficient way possible. That’s how I imagined straight.

[00:22:04] Darla: I love hearing your insights and your perspective on that because I’ve thought so much about that.

And one of the things that I thought about was the word straight. If you spell it S T R a I T, which is how it is spelled a lot in the scriptures, it’s also spelled the other way and I’ve read a lot about There’s a debate about which way should be the right way. But if you look up the word strait in the dictionary, it’s just a narrow passage of water between two other bigger bodies of water.

And when I think of strait, I think of, I imagine myself, I’m in this big body of water and I can see the other big body of water that I want to get to. And Christ is the strait. He is the way that I can get there. I love love, love what you said about that there is a way for each of us, but it’s individual.

It’s not the same way. I think that’s what you said. That’s how I’m interpreting it. But Christ is the one. And I think of narrow just that it’s narrow because he wants to be close to us. He doesn’t want us far away. He wants to pull us in and he’s not trying to disqualify us or push us off the path.

He’s trying to pull us in close and. Yeah, I just, I love what you shared. Like I’m going to go back and listen to this and think about that more. I think that’s so good to just rethink, we have this human way of thinking about these righteous symbols, that we read about in the scriptures.

There, there are other ways to think about them. I really love that. What would you add to any, anything that you want to add about that? 

[00:23:27] Sharla: I would add that this interpretation is something that I’ve prayed about. And then the Holy Ghost has prompted me about, but all of us are going to also have a different take on many different symbols and that’s led through the Holy Ghostas well.

This might be a lesson that I need for my journey right now, but there’s going to be lessons that you need for yours. And the Holy Ghost is going to lead that process as well. And it evolves. That’s what’s beautiful about it. 

[00:23:52] Darla: And I think it really is good to share those things. You don’t want to share the most personal things, but to share, this is my interpretation of this. And to say, this is just my interpretation, you can figure out for yourself what that looks like. But when we share those things, it opens other people’s minds to say how could I reimagine those symbols?

What does that look like for me? And I don’t know if giving permission is the right word, but it just helps other people to say, oh, it’s not so this one way or the way that I’ve always been taught, I could think about this a different way, or I can use the Holy Ghost to help me figure out what it means to me.

That’s the point. That is totally the point. I love that. So good. The time has flown by. This has been really great. I have loved talking to you and hearing hearing more just your perspectives and why you wrote this book and how it can help parents and teenagers to gain the spiritual resilience that we know we need in it at this time right now.

So I do have one final question for you, Sharla, and that is how have you seen and felt the Savior in your journey on the covenant path?

[00:24:56] Sharla: That’s a really personal question. I love that you asked that to all of your guests because I think that’s where the real power lies. That’s where it lies for me. It took me several months to get up the courage to write a book. It took me several months to feel like I had something to say that was going to be helpful to someone other than myself.

I wouldn’t have gotten to that point if it weren’t from the promptings of my Savior. It wouldn’t have gotten to that point without many prayers and sitting in the temple and fasting about it. All the credit goes to him. All the credit for any knowledge or any progress that I’ve made personally in my marriage, as a parent, in my other relationships, the credit goes to Christ.

He has been there along my covenant path, and I am only wishing that I could be more able to serve him in the way that he needs. 

[00:25:52] Darla: Beautifully said. Sharla, thank you so much for being here. If people want to find your book or find out more about what you’re doing, where would be the best places to go for that?

[00:26:00] Sharla: The book is actually going to be available in select Deseret Books starting in the next few weeks mostly in Utah. It’ll also be available on Alternatively, it’s available right now in paperback, hardback, ebook, audio book through Amazon. 

[00:26:18] Darla: Awesome. I’m going to be going to download it onto my Kindle, so excited to read it and thank you so much for being here and just sharing your journey. I know that it will help someone else. 

[00:26:28] Sharla: Thank you. I certainly hope so.

[00:26:30] Darla: Before we jump into this week’s journal questions. I just want to remind you why I give you journal questions. It’s because I feel so passionately that I want you to do something besides just listen to a podcast. 

And think, oh, that was nice. I want you to do something with something that you’ve heard. So I give you journal questions as a way to do that. 

You can take these journal questions as a jumping off point, write your own answers or think about the things that you felt prompted to do as you listened. One great way that you can act is to go and get Sharla’s book. Since I did this interview, I have actually read her book. I have a million notes. It was so good. And so many things that I want to apply to my family. So, that’s why I give you these journal questions. I just want you to act. I want you to do something about what you heard today. And what the spirit is prompting you to do. Okay. So now here are this week’s journal questions. 

One of the questions Sharla frequently heard from parents was this: can I trust Christ with the personal details of my life and of my teen’s life? 

How can you turn those personal details over to him? 

What are the ways you have seen God fulfill his promises to you through your covenants? 

How can you share how you’ve seen God fulfill promises with your children or others? 

Act on the ways you feel prompted to share. 

Sharla discussed a re-imagining symbols of righteousness, such as the iron rod, the straight narrow path and taking the sacrament. She shared that we can each seek for our own interpretation of what the symbols mean. What do you think of when you think of symbols of righteousness? 

When you read scriptures, ponder and journal about these symbols what do you feel the spirit telling you they mean? Write your thoughts.