This is somewhat of a continuation on my 'Give a Care' post. I was listening to a General Conference talk given by Gerald Lund while I was driving home from work yesterday, and I felt grateful for his perspective on the importance of allowing our hearts to be softened and receptive to the Holy Ghost:
"The heart is a tender place. It is sensitive to many influences, both positive and negative. It can be hurt by others. It can be deadened by sin. It can be softened by love. Early in our lives, we learn to guard our hearts. It is like we erect a fence around our hearts with a gate in it. No one can enter that gate unless we allow him or her to.
In some cases the fence we erect around our hearts could be likened to a small picket fence with a Welcome sign on the gate. Other hearts have been so hurt or so deadened by sin that they have an eight-foot (2.5-m) chain-link fence topped with razor wire around them. The gate is padlocked and has a large No Trespassing sign on it.
. . . I say again, the condition of our hearts directly affects our sensitivity to spiritual things. Let us make it a part of our everyday striving to open our hearts to the Spirit. Since we are the guardians of our hearts, we can choose to do so. We choose what we let in or hold out."
During the talk, he encourages us to purify our hearts and avoid setting our hearts upon the things of the world. Then we can be partakers of the Lord's promise that "the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers." (Doctrine and Covenants 112:10)
I know that God will never force or coerce us to believe in Him or to follow Him -- it is up to us to soften our hearts. When we choose to let go of our fear, our pride, our sin, our skepticism, our old hurts, or whatever it is that keeps our hearts padlocked, He will send His Holy Spirit to whisper peace and truth to our hearts. Our love for Him and for others will increase, as well as a true understanding that we are God's children and that He loves us. Again I know, and have experienced, that in yielding our hearts to God, there is nothing to fear and everything to gain. He follows through on every promise and simply desires to give us all He has.