Origin of Pain and Imperfection

How often we’ve been told God made us uniquely. He made our nose large or small, perhaps he made our eyes hazel. Many an inquisitive child asking why they are this way or that might be answered. “that’s just how God made you.”

But God did not create our bodies.

Similarly, during testimony meetings in church and common conversation, I have heard reference to trials or tribulations administered by God, as in the phrase, “I’m so grateful God gave me this trial because…” or “God sent me this trial because,” fill in the blank. We’ve all heard it.

But God does not give us trials, just as he did not create our bodies.

Our earthly mother and earthly father created our bodies. The way we look and perhaps the way we feel and act to some degree is a result of the very physical DNA combinations and amazing bodily processes that make us who we are. Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, our physical characteristics are directly a result of materials from our mortal parents or fallen man. Mutations and imperfections randomly occurred in the amazingly intricate pattern of genetic reproduction which was originally set in motion by a perfect God in the terrestrial sphere. Once in the telestial world, degeneration was and is both expected and exponentiated.  Thus, disease and death entered the world. Natural length of life and severity of disease or disability depend on how critical the breakdown. Some incorrect base pairing in the DNA sequence will result in absolutely no discernable change, while another may cause severe malformation and/or mental retardation. To believe or teach that a perfect and absolutely loving God created anything less than a pain-free and perfect body contradicts his nature. The same principle applies to all trials. To say that God crafted and inflicted a trial upon just you might be accurate. But I believe this is a rare exception to the rule. A rule which states that trials are a result of the fallen world in which we live, the power of Satan, and the agency of ourselves and others. Perhaps an all-seeing, perfectly loving and omnipotent God may allow us to pass through some of those tribulations which are outside of our control by refraining from deflecting them away from us, but I do not see God sitting upon a cloud and looking down on his children with trials like lightning bolts, who identifying a target throws that bolt of Cancer, then fire… or the death of a child.

Certainly our God is a God of justice, and has lashed out in fury upon the inhabitants of the earth from time to time, as is necessary. Still, remember the rule. It is only because we cannot yet see his hand that we do not recognize how much more he acts to protect us, especially those who heed his commands, thereby allowing heavenly help by their agency and permission. God values our agency too much to counter every action his children might take, including those that hurt others, and he loves us too much to shield us from the experiences he knows will give us experience and be for our good. In the garden He created a perfect system and a perfect world, because he is perfect and cannot create imperfection. Mankind brought about the fall and the sin and death which combine with the natural forces of the telestial earth and power of hell to make this place dark and dreary, lone painful and unfair, but once again God created a perfect system to make everything right at a later point in the plan of salvation. It is a plan which he knew would be necessary from the beginning to completely heal and cleanse all who desire it. It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

If you expect a good life because you are a good person, you’re wrong. You can expect a good eternity, though, and a heck of a lot of growth. It must be late cause this is going downhill fast. So Imma call it for now. Night.

 

 

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Philosophy

As those of you who are aware of my identity know, I live and sleep in my car during school-days in order to economize attending, and so it came as a great blessing when my jiu-jitsu professor gave me keys to his academy. When it gets below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, I opt to stay there, rather than in my car closer to campus. In addition to a heater, the finished garage facility has internet, a computer, microwave, mini-fridge, punching bag, futon, half-bathroom and speakers. To distract myself from the easily penetrating sounds of wind-blown debris, tree branches and people working on the other side of the garage doors, I’ve played BYU devotionals, music and, recently, philosophy podcasts over the speakers as I work out or sleep. I was stretching and listening to a commentary of Friedrich Neitzche when Professor walked in for morning class one day. Never one to keep a though to himself, he ranted for 10 minutes or more on how 18-20-year-olds like to listen to philosophy, obviously putting it in the same camp as liberalism, and describing instances where it has been the spiritual downfall of multiple people he knows. I respectfully listened, but certainly disagreed for many reasons.

My father is and has always been a philosopher. The words has two roots: phil(lover) + sophy(wisdom) = lover of wisdom or learning. Beyond its literal meaning, philosophy has developed into many branches and grown to describe the act of contemplating and theorizing about man’s existence. It is unfortunately true that the philosophy of man is tool satan uses to “reason” people away from believing that there is a god, but for me and any truly logical person, philosophy is among the greatest general evidences that ther is a god, for as C. S. Lewis put it, “If there wasn’t a God, we never should have figured out that there wasn’t a God.” Why should we–physically weak and mentally and morally as complex as we are–be capable of the capacity to philosophize. Certainly Satan may convince some through “philosophical reasoning” that there is no God, and they are accountable only to themselves, but this works much better if that person is sinning and avoiding repentance (but that is another topic entirely which Brad Wilcox covers magnificently in his book The Continuous Atonement). In so many ways, philosophy supports the existence of God, even though true knowledge of His existence and supremacy must come through living the doctrine of Christ, secular knowledge is abundant as support.  Among my favorite examples of this is found in the first chapter of Lewis’ Mere Christianity. It is amazing to me how all things point to the existence of a supreme creator. More so, I am grateful for the painfully clear personal evidence I have been given of the existence of his Power and where it can be found on the earth today. Without that knowledge, philosophy would be mere entertainment, for I would not understand the why. Philosophy helps me fill in the blanks, building the why.

To quote Nietzche, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

I could write a post on any Nietzche quote, which is why I love him so much (that’s a lie. I like Nietche because I may or may not be in love with the person who introduced me to him), but he is also a great example of why people have bias toward philosophy. It is, after all, Nietzche who said, “God is dead,” now widely used by nihilists everywhere, but Nietzche does not necessarily preach nihilism. Like I do when I am trying to understand my thoughts by putting them into words, Nietzche contradicts himself. His philosophizing produced amazing capsules of truth, as well as some areas of wrong speculation. Taken in light of LDS doctrine, his truths are profound and meaningful, and his mistakes make perfect sense.

Neitzche did not hold contemporary Christianity in high esteem, but I do not personally hold this against him, considering the confusion, sheep mentality and “just because” principles taught in many. After all, In most religions, including Christianity in general, the higher your education the lower your religiosity with the exception of Mormonism (Stan L. Albrecht and Tim B. Heaton, “Secularization, Higher Education, and Religiosity,” in Latter-day Saint Social Life: Social Research on the LDS Church and its Members). I believe this to be true, because truth is truth wherever it is found.

You can know something is true because it will never hit a wall. Why do we accept the theory of gravity as truth? because we can build off of it and continue to do so, and it keeps working! This is how math is developed and every theory tested. It should be no different in religion.  I have a reasonable question, I should be able to find an answer, and that answer should allow me to ask more questions, and find more answers. I should never hit a wall, where the answer is “just because.” Such an answer is unacceptable to me intellectually and spiritually, because they are connected. In both cases, the more a know, the more I should find that I don’t know. This is progression, and progression is my why.

 

Eternal Punishment

I suppose it’s pretty straight forward. You’re good, go to the Celestial Kingdom; Beginning of story. You’re really rotten? Eternal damnation in a lower Kingdom. End of Story.

I entertain that there might be more. It’s not that I think it’s unfair, to simple, or that the scripture’s statements concerning retribution upon the wicked are false. I just want to look a little deeper. Eternity is a long time and our Heavenly Father is all-knowing and all-merciful.

God stated, through Joseph Smith, the following revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 19:

10 “For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—

11 “Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.

12 “Endless punishment is God’s punishment.”

Taking into consideration 2 Ne. 28:8, where the attitude of consciously sinning is condemned, (“Eat drink and be merry… and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.”) as well as numerous other canonized records where God’s justice is affirmed, we nevertheless have a narrow path of speculation wherein all these, including God’s declaration in section 19, agree. This is a channel I have long enjoyed exploring, and I’ve collected an extensive array of opinions about it.

An extreme opinion I’ve heard is that perhaps one day, we will all be gathered as a family in the Celestial Kingdom after many stellar generations, and there will be a knock at the door. Upon opening it, Lucifer will be standing there, shoulders slumped, tears in his eyes AND THESE WORDS: “I’m sorry… I think I’ve figured it out…” Then, without hesitation, we will join our brother, Christ, to say, “COME ON IN!”

This example is EXTREME, but it illustrates a concept of perhaps what infinite forgiveness, mercy and love could be.

For the record, I personally find it harder to believe that given an indeterminable amount of time, people wouldn’t change.

Knowing that perhaps there may be an end (of some sort, independent of time, because God doesn’t dwell within the bounds of time) to the punishment of the wicked, which punishment primarily entails a lack of progression, makes me wonder if progression could go on for terrestrial or telestial persons. In any existence where there is a degree of awareness, personal growth is inevitable, right? The lack of time as we know it within this sphere makes prediction without difficult, but assuming awareness is indefinite in a similar way living for billions upon billions of years would be, if or when souls “figure it out,” meaning they gain a testimony of the divinity and necessity of Jesus Christ and accept him as their Lord and Savior, wouldn’t their experience immediate work for their good? Could they not develop desires beyond the kingdom in which they were originally placed? But, alas, this is where the channel of speculation exceeds the bounds of canonized scripture… perhaps. After all, if that person lived a horrible life, would they have to try again? I don’t think so, but it remains that there are worlds available for such a retry to take place, even an infinite number of times. The reason I don’t think this would happen is not because the LDS faith does not embrace the idea of reincarnation in this fashion, it is because I don’t see a need, as their ordinances (proxy or otherwise) would still be available, and just waiting for acceptance.

Seeing that our earth is a telestial kingdom, perpetual existence in worlds like it until greater faith is demonstrated would satisfy the doctrine of placement in the Telestial realm of glory.

However, as I stated before, I don’t think that this is true. I only hold that if, after I die and get to see the big picture, that is how things work, I will be surprised, but it wouldn’t rock my boat too much. The Church is still true, and all the prophets are still inspired by God to say all which God would have the people know–all they are capable of–at that specific time.

Now I’ll look at how I actually think it might work.

This, I heard in a religion class at BYU. It was presented as a quote from some church authority, but I have not been able to find it since, so merely know it is not my own intellectual property. This line of thought compares progression to linear travel. Your velocity, correlates with your Kingdom of Glory, with those in the Celestial Kingdom traveling at 100 mph, those in the Terrestrial Kingdom traveling at 50 mph, and the Telestial Glory at perhaps 20 mph. In this way, those of a lower kingdom will never reach the glory of the Celestial or any kingdom higher than that in which they were placed, but that doesn’t mean they won’t reach a point where the Celestial once were. Again, using the term hour in a realm without time is counterproductive, but there is a principle here that rings true in my mind and heart.

Hanging Out vs. Dating

As a generally laid back person, I appreciated the casual environment that hanging out provides to get to know people in a natural setting. This is actually how I met a particularly memorable crush (they are now graduated and married, but I’m straying from the point). That association resulted in growth for me, but mainly after the point where we started going on dates, a habit I will refer to hereafter as dating. I didn’t make note of this correlation until a dear institute teacher gave a lesson outlining the pitfalls of hanging out, if it is used as a replacement for, or to delay the inspired manner of dating given by our prophets. His argument rests on what he calls, “the three P’s of the proclamation,” meaning the Family: a Proclamation to the World. Any guy who right away knows what these three P’s are just scored some major points in my recordbook, but for those of you who haven’t made the connection, they are preside, provide and protect: the three primary responsibilities assigned to husbands and fathers.

What this has to do with dating is this:

When a young man asks a young woman on a date, he has the opportunity to show how he can preside in many ways, including the fact that he took the initiative to do so. He is now responsible for her and to have made a plan for what the activities of the date will be.

On a date, it is typically the guy’s responsibility to pay for the date, especially in the setting where he asked. In this he clearly demonstrated his willingness, and in a lesser sense, his ability to provide for her and a future family. Even on the most inexpensive dates, he can show this critical attribute by providing transportation, packed food, or any other needful or useful item for the particular date.

Lastly, when a young man knocks on a young woman’s door and takes her away from her family for a time, he verbally or non-verbally accepts the responsibility to return her safely back. He is responsible for any harm or distress she endures; he must protect her.

This solemn agreement is not present in hanging out. Similarly, is such a casual setting, the young man is not obligated to have a plan, initiate conversation or otherwise preside in the situation. He does not need to provide for the lady’s needs, and while I hope he would protect her in an extreme situation, he need not feel responsible for her well-being beyond that of any friend or acquaintance. Thus, what I believe to be God’s purposes in dating are severely undermined.

Could it be possible that “hanging out” could be a tool for Satan to destroy the family? It seems reasonable to me that as a stand-in for correct dating, the answer is yes.

I have a testimony that the manner of association, dating, and courtship outlined by Church authorities is inspired in many more ways than are obviously seen. I know that obeying the principles put forth by the church will provide the very best foundation for us find happiness in this life, have joy in our posterity and fulfill our responsibilities in our families. As the proclamation states, “The family is central to the creator’s plan for the divine destiny of his children.” As we prioritize these relationships above all else and strive to live by principles of righteousness, we can fulfill that plan, and it will bring us more joy than any other path we could have taken.

 

Three Laws

the reconciliation of three laws.

1. We create our reality
2. We receive what We desire
3. To every action there is a consequence.
But does a depressed person desire to be depressed? If it is pathological, then no, and that will be stripped away in the resurrection. When someone is sinning, you might say they are seeking/they desire something good…. but what do they desire more? Sin happens when one desires the perceived benefits of the sin, more than they desire to be clean and progress in light and truth. Perhaps they lack the understanding to desire these good things more fully. Nevertheless, as strong as they desire the good, it is not enough if other urges are stronger. Thus we create our reality by our desires.
The Author, Ben Hardy, recently published a book, titled, Willpower Doesn’t Work. In it he outlines specific action and mentalities that block us from achieving our goals and becoming who we want to be, instructing readers how to tap into power greater than themselves. His ideas parallel Hugh Nibley’s words:  “None of us knows very much, none of us is very brave, none of us is very strong, none of us is very smart. We would flunk those tests terribly. As Alma said, we are only to be tested on one thing—the desires of our heart (Alma 41:3).”
When I have been struggling with sin, I can clearly see that my desires are not where they should be. I may know I need to change and I may want it, but I will not be successful until something happens–a wakeup call if you will–that increases my desire to be clean or taints the pleasure of my wrongs to the point that I no longer want to be that way. As the Anti-Nephi-Lehites, I have at times in my life had a change of heart, where the thought of sin I previously was engaged in becomes abhorrent to me.
The way I reach this point is not through trying to become more strong or more courageous through willpower. If that were the case I’d be as a tin roof in a hurricane. That’s why God doesn’t judge us based on those things. To paraphrase Nibley, he instead judged us on the two things we can be very good at: forgiveness and repentance. Every positive change I have seen in my life didn’t come because I willed it, it’s because I repented. Then the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is able to strengthen our desires for righteousness.
The second law states that we receive what we desire. Those whose telestial desires are strongest will receive a telestial inheritance and that is where they will be most happy. We are God’s children and he wants us to be where will be happiest and most comfortable, and that is where we will go… A common misconception of the righteous is that it has nothing at all to do with what we’ve done. The righteous are received into paradise, to receive infinitely more than those with lesser desires can imagine.
“Ezekiel 33:18-19 defines a righteous man. Who is righteous? Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad he has been, if he is repenting he is a righteous man.” -Nibley
If you have celestial desires, some might say you have to live a celestial life, free of sin, but that not the whole picture. If you have celestial desires, you will repent, and your life will be freed from sin, through the power of Jesus Christ.

Thoughtful

As mortals, we are so accustomed to having an extremely limited perspective, that we almost constantly forget it. We can look inward and know that we know so little about the vast majority of people with whom we interact. We can even recognize circumstances that make those people different from us, and think how grateful we are that we weren’t raised that way, that our mother didn’t do drugs, or that we didn’t have to endure or deal with this of that abuse or deprivation in tangible wealth, or worse, knowledge.

Without getting into why some are subjected to ignorance and scarring trial against any type of deserving we understand, it is necessary to accept it as fact that men are not born equal in all things. So we are in a position where it can at times be difficult to say, as Emerson, that “every man I meet is my superior in some way.”

I have determined that more important than consciously contemplating these concepts is merely being kind and perceptive.

The reason people use the term “thoughtful” to describe caring and kindness is because it incorporates the perceptivity that gives these other qualities all of their effectiveness.

I recently asked two different professors at BYU for an extension of an assignment deadline in the last two weeks. One I approached and asked this: Thursday I will be weighing in for my first MMA fight at the time as class when the review is due. I’m going to be dehydrated the next two days leading up to then and really out of it, and especially with the fight on Friday I will have a lot of things to focus on, so may I please hand it in next class period? Her no was very short and flippant. At the risk of being judgemental myself, she certainly appeared to be the opposite of an MMA enthusiast in every way, but there was no explanation offered with her denial; only a chuckle of entertainment at my request. I didn’t press. Just walked away, but what my professor didn’t hear was, “I’m scared. I have a cough. I don’t know how this is going to go. I can’t read two sentences without getting distracted by visions of someone trying to knock me out, and how I will react. Writing essays are the hardest homework assignments I have because I don’t have access to a keyboard that doesn’t require a power outlet to work, besides that of my phone, because I got sent home from my mission for 6 months and don’t want to buy a functional laptop when I’m immediately leaving for another year, and there are no power outlets in my car, where I sleep while I attend school mon-thurs. 

Needless to say, I wrote the essay and it really wasn’t a big deal. Maybe it was a good thing I forced myself to put hours into a relatively non-stressful activity. The quality is certainly lower than it would have been if written after the fight, though. However, contrast the situation with my women’s health professor, who I e-mailed minutes before midnight on the due date for a short paper. The part of the story I told her was this: I had the opportunity to spend the day with my sister who is visiting from Japan and I thought I would have time to write the essay tonight after she left, but I unexpectedly had to do hours of paperwork for an athletic competition next weekend, which I just finished. I will be able to write it first thing tomorrow. When she responded, it was to ask if I had a good time with my sister and to wish me good luck in the competition. She accepted the late paper without a question, even though she had no idea, that at midnight that night, I was on the computer and printer system of a family I had met that night because my sister was staying there, the same system I timidly asked if I could use to print the 13 pages I had to fill out and sign–including such topics as accidental death reimbursement–then individually scan each page back in and send that night because the promoter got me on the card and sent the contract the very last day possible. It was a night I had the rare opportunity to sleep on a couch… so with it being practically midnight I opted to sleep for the 5 hours I could before driving the hour back to class in Provo, rather than staying up to write a paper that would already be late and sleeping on a bench during the afternoon on campus.

I am so blessed in every facet of my life. I love the way I live and my every need and want is provided for. My troubles are trivial and self-inflicted, but even so, this teacher’s thoughtfulness toward me was deeply appreciated. How many others are in complicated living situations not by choice and have it so much worse. They aren’t going to tell you everything they are going through. You wouldn’t believe it if they did, and maybe rightly so. Respectable people don’t just communicate like that, but as nice as it would be if everyone was 100% transparent, it’s not necessary. It is only necessary to be kind. The amazing thing about the kind people I interact with every day is they have no idea how appreciated their actions and words are, but someday they will know. All of us have the opportunity to touch lives on the most meaningful level. If you are not naturally perceptive but desire your kindness to be effective, don’t worry. That is the role of the Spirit. As you pray for the Spirit’s guidance you may not know when someone is hurting, but you’ll know what to do about it, as you act in faith under His power of discernment.

 

Feminist?

I am one of many women in this day and age who aren’t sure exactly what the label feminist entails and whether or not we want to affix that label on ourselves. From organized, American roots, feminism seems to have become amorphous, encompassing everything from the women’s rights movement of history to inclusivism to a radical, liberal idea. I have found it necessary to sort through these and other ideas and biases to find what feminism is to me. In an article published by the Washington Post, entitled, “Betty Friedan to Beyoncé: Today’s generation embraces feminism on its own terms,” the similarities and dichotomies of Traditional vs. “New Wave” feminism are explored. Before reading this article I had many prejudices against the term feminism, due to growing up among the New Wave generation, but in reading this article I was able to find that I am a feminist, not despite, but as a fluid part, of my belief system, including the understanding that women are fundamentally different than men. What truly matters is respect and divinely endorsed equality.

Being politically conservative and highly religious, I cannot support a feminism that encourages such principles as abortion or flagrant sexual expression. Because these are some increasingly common views held by feminists of the rising generation and current pop scene, I formed a relationship between these ideas in my mind. However, in the Washington Post article, the definition of feminism is cited as this: “The idea that women should have the same political, economic, and social rights and opportunities as men” (New Dimensions in Women’s Health, 7th Edition). For these causes I am much more sympathetic.  Of course women should have equal opportunity in education and politics. Women have rights and for the vast majority of history—even now in large measure in the world—those rights are not recognized and honored to an acceptable degree. That is why feminism is still needed.

Still, women and men are different. More men seek a career path that would result in them being a CEO, so it doesn’t bother me that only a fraction of Fortune 500’s are women. I also believe if a man and a woman are in the same profession with the same qualifications, they should be paid the same, but I also recognize research that men are more likely to push for higher pay/promotions than women, who perhaps are more likely to work for other personal reasons, such helping others or other fulfillment. In my mind these are all separate concepts which do do not take away from women’s rights to pursue whatever path they choose and be successful in it. I merely want it to be clear that I do not commiserate with the women who are seeking prominence through their chosen career or political or media platform, and cannot respect and accept other women’s desire and choice to seek another path, such as sacrificing some or all focus on a lucrative or prestigious vocation to have a family. Every woman should have a choice, but I don’t blame any human designed system for the fact that men and women may have different inherent desires for the legacy they seek. To do so is ineffective insofar as the complaint is illogically founded.

My ability and opportunity to pursue and hold a career, worship the way I choose, love and care for others and defend myself and my family should, under no circumstances, be diminished because I am black or albino, Jewish or Hindu, illegitimate, royal, impoverished, male or female or any other thing. Each person is a Child of God, of infinite worth and potential, and therein deserving of respect. We each have the responsibility to exercise our agency as best we see fit in our personal pursuit of happiness. Problems occur when we think that our beliefs should be held by everyone, move to force others to acquiesce, or infringe on others’ agency because of our view. Historical and modern misogynists are just as guilty of this as some radical LGBT rights activist, some proponents of new-wave feminism, and members of other movements and groups.

True feminism holds that women should not be degraded, dismissed or held back because of their gender. Feminists have fought and currently fight for women to vote, learn and be respected—and they do so rightfully—but it is interesting to note that they do not fight to register for the draft. Men and women deserve equal respect, but because they are different, that respect may come in different forms. Respect is not to be confused with acceptance of any desire or choice; a flaw I see in New Wave feminism. For men and women to be equal, it is up to each individual to honor the innate worth of every other person. I am a feminist because I want to see this respect, not based on gender or some person or groups ability to garner support through powerful media or political outlets. I am a feminist because every person should have their rights honored, especially those who lack the power to fight for themselves.

Titles

Filiam Dei, first and foremost.
Therein lies my purpose, my light and guidepost.
Next I am Sister, to nourish and hold.
Then Lover of Learning, for that is my gold.
Far Strider, for limitless miles I eat,
in mountains and marathons, under my feet.
INTP: Challenge is what I do.
Star Gazer, for souls must conversate too.
Squirrel Whisperer, for these are the hardest earned friends.
Venturer: Hard paths have the most striking ends.
Earth Shaper, for pigments and clay that I mold
Fire Maker, for dancing and fending off cold.
Ground Fighter, for dreams that come under my hand.
Deeply Loved, more than I understand.
Zion Seeker, with so much still to o’ercome.
Covenant Keeper, so I can become

The Atonement: His Perfection and Our Need

If we are to live a celestial life we must abide by celestial laws. Many of these laws are given in the Sermon on the Mount: Nephite Edition, and include loving our enemies, not being angered, not letting impure thoughts enter our hearts, and turning the other cheek. All of these point to a state of being: Being humble, being charitable, and being virtuous. As struggling mortals, we understand the concrete examples of these traits which Jesus gives more clearly that the traits themselves. For example, we use the word humble and it can mean so many different things. It can describe one isolated demonstration, a manner of dress, living circumstances, or it can express any degree of meekness or submissiveness in a person. The way that Christ uses it comes closest to this last, except that he shows us exactly what degree of humility is humble. The description is this: that if someone were to take your coat, you would give him your cloak also, that you would never call someone out as in saying “thou fool,” that if physically hit, you would take another blow before reacting in a way to offend one of God’s children. The standard is clear and can be achieved regardless of race, gender or social status, but for most of us, especially me, it is not always the go to reaction. The same can be said of charity and virtue. Are any of us perfectly charitable? I know that I am far from it. Only one is.

Christ end with the words, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (3 Ne. 12:48)

In the words of President Holland, “I believe that Jesus did not intend His sermon on this subject to be a verbal hammer for battering us about our shortcomings. No, I believe He intended it to be a tribute to who and what God the Eternal Father is and what we can achieve with Him in eternity. In any case, I am grateful to know that in spite of my imperfections, at least God is perfect—that at least He is, for example, able to love His enemies, because too often, due to the “natural man” and woman in us, you and I are sometimes that enemy.” (General Conference Oct 2017)

We are born into this world, and we get so caught up in it. Occasionally we compromise, and sometimes we entirely forget our purpose here. How often I have put my trust in the arm of flesh and thought my friendship with the world was right and good? how often have I needed to be shouted the refrain, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4) How often did I think such a friendship was bigger than a seemingly arbitrary and insignificant commandment? How often have I realized in tears and shame how wrong I was and how lost I was and how weak I am?

…At least once.

Once we realize that path was lost, how long must it take to again find it? Will we ever find it? If you are as fortunate as I, you’ve been told exactly where to turn in a place like this. Perhaps you’ve never felt so unworthy to ask God for forgiveness. Perhaps it seems utterly ridiculous. How wondrous it is then, in the midst of that darkness we brought upon ourselves, as soon as we turn it over to him, we realize his spirit is right there beside us. We feel that worth and we feel hope. In our heart or our mind we know that somehow, impossibly, he is not only with us, but he loves us. As time stretches on, we can become closer to him than we have ever before been. We will realize that he doesn’t need our suffering–that’s why Christ died for us–all he needs is us to change. And we will find that we can. Somehow, everything is clear going in the right direction, even in the dark. Indeed, it is infinitely more clear that when you were heading the wrong direction in the light. Surrounded by light, but not seeking, you were in ignorance, and ignorance is darkness. But no darkness can remain when any person therein calls upon the name of Christ with faith unto repentance, earnestly seeking. We create our reality, only in that we choose it, and Jesus Christ creates it. It has nothing to do with our circumstances.

 

To be continued