We are living in a time of historic change. When the pandemic finally fades from view, will we merely have survived it, or will we have changed for the better?  We hope we will cherish our families—and one another—even more. We hope we will not take our blessings for granted. Will the world be more understanding, more generous? We wonder if we will see our priorities with more clarity and less clutter. Every bit of adversity we encounter in life can teach us. And if we have a mindset of learning, we can emerge from this crisis improved.

It’s the opposite of complacency. Instead of just floating along and accepting whatever happens, we are proactive.  Our church’s history of industry and hard work, symbolized by the beehives we see on so many official buildings, means we’re a “roll up our sleeves” culture. We get busy, we serve, and we solve. Along the way we find this is both a joyful path and a means by which we can actually measure positive growth. Sure, it’s incremental, but over a lifetime, we transform. 

Some of this transformation happens because we are constantly taking inventory. We’re checking ourselves for progress—have we overcome Word of Wisdom issues? Cleaned up our language? Behaved more modestly? Paid a full tithe? The list goes on, as we address each of our weaknesses and solicit the Lord’s help to gain victory over self. We’re taught to set tiny, measurable goals and to celebrate even the smallest of victories. By persevering, eventually we do improve.

And this is a huge component of our membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We’ve been told that church is not a country club but a hospital of sorts. This is where we come in our imperfections and sins, where we humble ourselves and worship, where we recommit to doing better, and where we can offer– and find—acceptance and support in that journey. This is not a church where you simply make an appearance, although we’ll gladly welcome anyone. But to really gain the most from activity, it takes effort. Ours is a gospel of transformation.

Look at conversion. It’s not a singular event, but a lifelong process. As we become more and more converted to Christ and His teachings, we deepen our understanding and our commitment. We become eager to share the glorious Plan of Salvation with others. We put off the old man and experience the “mighty change” in our hearts that King Benjamin spoke of. Self-improvement and personal transformation work the same way.

Right now we’re practicing social distancing and we hold church meetings at home. What a perfect opportunity to analyze how we feel about belonging to this faith. Stripped down to core beliefs we can focus upon the real basics. Yes, we miss mingling with our friends, but that was always just a side benefit, not the focus. And this is a good reminder of that.

We have more time for more intense scriptural study, meditation, and prayer. No folding chairs to put up, no chalkboards to erase, no thermostats to adjust. Taking the Sacrament at home also gives it renewed emphasis. This truly is a time to worship deliberately, thoughtfully.

The best transformation we can make is to repent. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said, “True repentance is about transformation, not torture or torment.” This could be the moment when we finally conquer the thoughts and habits that have held us back. We are living in a laboratory where our “to do” list has suddenly shrunk—and what an opportunity that gives us, to focus on the things that matter most.

Yes, we miss going to church. We miss the socializing. But what a great reminder we now have, that above all, this is a church of transformation.

Hilton’s books, humor blog, and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Inter-Faith Specialist for Church Communications.