I had, errrr, I mean, got to give a talk in my new  LDS church ward today. It was the shortest talk ever, being cut down by about 8 minutes as I sat there watching the time tick, tick, tick away after being scheduled to be the concluding speaker at the homecoming talk of a Sister Missionary (why do they do that?!). But I think it may have made the talk stronger. It certainly was short and to the point. And, like, BAM! Sister Beitler's in the house. Lol. Anyway. I had some requests to have a copy of the talk (why?) so here it is in the shortened form. 

Brothers and Sisters, I’m Kirsten Holt Beitler. I’ve been in the ward for 6 weeks. This is the ward I grew up in, so there are many familiar and much loved faces here and many I am excited to get to know. Just to give you a little background and so you don’t commit the sin of gossip, Yes, I have four boys. Josh is in college at the U. He is crazy smart and makes more money than me working as a programmer. Nathan is 16 and loves running, singing, making things, and anything outdoors. Jacob is 10; he is an artist and a writer and is very creative. Ben is almost 9. He loves anything that involves physical activity and is a talented soccer player and runner. Yes, my youngest two are adopted, just in case you haven't figured that out. We have an open adoption with their birth moms and families. Yes, I am divorced and have been a single mom for 18 months. Yes, I am living in my parents’ basement until my rental is ready.  I am an artist and used to run an art school and studio out of my home. I now work as the floral manager at the Harmon’s. Yes, I work full time. I have been a full-time working mom for 14 months.

Yes, I gave up my home in the process of facilitating a divorce that was brought about by selfishness and addiction and yes, we were very sad to leave our home. The last few years have been extremely difficult for me and my kids. We are learning that we can do hard things. I thought I already knew that! I hope we are fast learners.  I do believe in the healing power of the Atonement, I do believe in forgiveness, and I still believe in love. Anything else you want to know? Better ask me in person, ‘cause I don’t like gossip.


As I address today’s topic of the first and second great commandments, I want you to know that these are guiding principles in my life. I had to come by this knowledge through some very hard lessons and sacred miracles. So these ideas are very personal to me.  I believe that if every member of our church would truly follow these two we would be happier and better as a people, fewer families would be torn apart, and we would be closer to the Zion society that we need to become.


Matthew 22:36-40 states:

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.


I’d like suggest that the reason loving God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind is the most important commandment is because if we don’t have God at the center of everything that we do, we will never reach our highest potential. Why is that important?


God’s great work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (and women). That means His main goal is to help us reach our highest potential. We must understand our worth as potential Gods and Goddesses to see where we want to end up and why.


We must understand our inherent worthiness as sons and daughters of God to be able to have a healthy sense of self to protect us from the many harms that can come to people who wish to devalue us.

 We cannot reach our highest potential if we do not have a deep relationship with deity. We must have an understanding of how God feels about us to carry us through the disappointments and abuses this life dishes out.


If we do not wholly love God, that means we have centered our core values on something other than the ONE thing that embodies perfect love and wants the best for us.

If we do not wholly love God then we will not be wholly obedient and will, therefore, fall short of our goal to live with Him again.

If we do not wholly love God we will be blocking our understanding of how God feels about us and we will not be able to wholly love ourselves.

If we cannot wholly love ourselves, then we cannot obey the second great commandment, which is to love your neighbor as yourself. If you can’t truly love yourself, you can’t truly love others, either.


I didn’t understand that God saw me in a different way than I saw myself until a few years ago. I learned that I was seeing myself through eyes of betrayal, hurt and abuse, and so I was constantly looking for approval in all the wrong places and perfection. As I learned that these beliefs were lies authored by Satan, my life started to change. I realized that the truth of my identity is how God sees me, but I needed to understand exactly how that was. A wise Stake President set me on a course of study that gave me a solid bedrock of understanding that opened me up to some experiences in which God was able to show me how He felt about me. This healing process then allowed me to love others around me (the figurative neighbors mentioned in the second commandment) in a more genuine way. I am still learning how to love like God loves and I suppose that I will be practicing on this until the day I leave this earth and probably for a few eons after that. But it feels good. I feel better.

God is always trying to show his people of how much he loves us. But we must be willing to receive it. When we receive God’s love, we become willing to submit to His will .It is immediately after we say to our Father “Into thine hand I commit my spirit”  and really mean it, that we are lifted out of the pain of this world and transformed by Him in a “mighty change” of  heart.

I have felt this mighty change of heart. Sometimes I still struggle with keeping God in my center. When I am filled with self-doubt, self-loathing, anger, fear, or anxiety, I know that it is time to take a break and check in with myself. I ask myself some questions about where those feelings are coming from and what it is that might have crept into my center that might be replacing God and the knowledge I have about Him and how he feels about me.

I am so grateful that I am learning to do this. I get lots of practice doing this! I get lots of practice “loving my neighbor as myself”. I am nowhere near perfect in following these commandments, but I had a mighty change of heart in regards to them and now I know and understand what it was the Christ was saying. What it was that he was asking and why. So it makes it easier to keep trying to work on these commandments. And times when I fall short, I know that my Savior has given me the great gift of the atonement to help me start again. He did this because He loves me. He loves the me then, He loves the me now, He loves the me future. He knows and understands all the stuff. He finds me perfectly imperfect. And I will love and honor Him forever for what He’s done for me.