Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I need a two for one

In the interest of getting at least one thing accomplished in my life right now, I am posting my sacrament talk from a few weeks ago:

As a young adult, had several experiences that helped testimony foothold by Alma 32:27 - talks about experimenting upon the word..and says:

“even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words”

You have to want it to be true, the Lord is not going to bless you with knowledge you don’t want

I realized that I wanted it to be true, how could I not? The Gospel is beautiful and miraculous. I did then and do now desire it to be true and because of that desire I have been blessed to know that it is true

It was around this same time that I was given a lesson on divine nature, that resonated with me and further strengthened my testimony it was explained to me in the following way:

If I believe that my spirit is literally a daughter of God, than I have within me a divine spirit. A spirit that wants to be good, that wants to make right choices, that wants to return to Heavenly Father. That is who I truly am. A divine spiritual being in a human body. The gospel isn’t trying to turn me into something different, something unnatural like a square peg to a round hole-- On the contrary. If I commit myself to living the Gospel, it sets me free to become who I really am. Who I am meant to be. The more I follow the Spirit, the more I see difference in how I behave when I have it and when I don’t. The Gospel teaches me to honor the goodness in me and others, and faithfully the Atonement allows me to recognize, repent and overcome my humanness.

Quick disclaimer, the comments I am going to make are meant to be applied to difficult relationships, not abusive relationships.
  • Some time ago I found myself in the middle of a pretty drawn out argument. During this time I became overly concerned with how I was being treated.
    • personal empowerment had sort of taken over, mind filled with self-righteousness, fault finding and judgement.
    • I felt fully and totally justified. Other people assured me I was in the right. But the situation just kept getting worse. Became clear it was not within power to fix situation

I needed help. I plead with Heavenly Father to tell me what to do, whatever it was I would do it. I was impressed to turn to the scriptures and was reading in Mark chapter 8, when I came to the following verses:
31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
It was this scripture that surprised me, Peter rebuked Jesus? What would he have even said?? And then it hit me. He probably was telling Jesus, “you don’t deserve to be treated this way.” “You don’t have to put up with this, you can’t let them do this.” In this moment Peter no doubt felt like he was supporting Jesus by saying this, being protective even and he was right, Jesus did not deserve this treatment.
But Jesus turns to Peter and says:
    Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

This was a profound moment for me, what I needed to know was revealed to me. This scripture was telling me that nobody has faced more unfair or unjustified treatment than Jesus. But He was not concerned with how He was treated, He was not concerned with the things of men. He was concerned with the things of God.

  • The Lord had answered my prayers, revealing His presence and His awareness of me
  • He was telling me specifically how to approach my problem

I also learned that:
  • truly supporting other people is more than taking someone’s side. It’s trying to discourage sides in the first place.

  • Truly supporting = encouraging them to forgive, find healing and see the bigger picture. What would Heavenly Father want us the situation to be.

  • We can’t and shouldn’t try to judge another person into being a certain way. Our job it not to judge others. Our job is to lift the fallen, to restore the broken and to heal the hurting.

  • How often in our lives are we more concerned with how we are being treated than how we are treating others? How often in our lives are we more concerned with the things of man than the things of God?

As I tried to move forward in this situation, I found myself caught in a revolving door of getting offended, trying to forgive and getting reoffended. Then I read the following verse:
Luke 6:35 - “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend , hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great”

  • Hoping for nothing again--meaning expecting nothing in return. If I try to do the right thing and it doesn’t work out and I am offended or hurt or bitter----then I am not following this scripture.
  • Any act, whether it’s a kind word, an apology, a gesture, act of service etc. cannot be contingent.
  • You have to be prepared to make these offerings for free, let others be how they will be. To not allow a negative reaction or even no reaction to make you bitter or discouraged. That is not love. Love is patient, love is kind.

We know we must forgive others, but it is living a higher law to not be offended in the first place. This is an attribute that can only be grown and strengthened with the Lord’s help.

If we strive to have eyes to see and ears to hear, God can communicate with us in infinitely many ways.

I am a stay at home mom with three little kids, in a modern could i possible identify with and learn from a war hero who lived in ancient america thousands of years ago. And yet, the lessons and comfort I received from reading Helaman’s epistle to Captain Moroni provided comfort and support during the saddest time of my life, the weeks surrounding the loss of my mother-in-law Christy Bollard. It was nearly 2 years ago that we lost her to cancer. And I do mean we, not only does she have family in this audience, but friends in this Ward as dear to her and to us as family
  • It is Alma chapter 58 where we read that the  Nephites and the Lamanites have been in a long war. Helaman and his stripling warriors have survived despite some intense battles.
    • Helaman realizes his forces are small relative to the enormous amount of Lamanite soldiers
    • Decides to hunker down and wait for reinforcements. Helaman sends a message to the government for provisions and soldiers.
    • Helaman says they wait “for many months,” and during this difficult time he and his nearly starve to death as they are surrounded, threatened and taunted by the Lamanites.
    • This is a clear message to us that things do not necessarily always go well for those on the Lord’s errand.

After so much hardship, I’m sure Helaman and his company felt certain that they would be rescued, that this must be as bad as things could possibly get.

At long last, help arrives, but it is not what they are expecting. Food and an army of only 2000 arrive. We read in verse 8:
“and this is all the assistance which we did receive, to defend ourselves and our country from falling into the hands of our enemies, yea, to contend with an enemy which was innumerable…
Helaman and his men had righteous desires, they were defending freedom and protecting their people
(skipping ahead)..and now the cause why they did not send more strength unto us, we knew not; therefore we were grieved and also filled with fear…”
Helaman and his poor band of Nephites have been tried, they have suffered and they have endured. And now they are hit with a crushing disappointment. Aid has been sent but to their human eyes it is far from a rescue.
So what is their reaction? In verse 10 we read:
“Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us…” The Lord responds to these mighty prayers as Helaman observes –
“The Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.”
It is such a human reaction to:
  • expect rescue, to expect happy endings
  • expect that we deserve respite after having a difficult trial instead of receiving more difficulties.
But Helaman’s reaction is full of faith, is full of humility, he immediately turns to the Lord. He pours out his heart and he is blessed not only with peace and assurance, but he is inspired with a course of action.
  • Helaman’s actual circumstances haven’t changed, but he has.
  • Helaman knows that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an illusion, the tunnel is the illusion
He writes in verse 12 of his epistle:
“And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies..”
Helaman sets a faithful example and lead his army to victory against the Lamanites. We know that they were successful – which tells each of us that even though our
  • own situations may be dire
  • resources seem meager
  • with the help of the Lord we can face all our “enemies,” including grief, pride, sadness, sin, shortcomings and inadequacies.
At the time I read these scriptures I was moved by several very strong parallels. Firstly, Christy’s brave example as she faced the trial of her life, the trial that would end her mortal life. She told me once not long after her diagnosis that she had not been sleeping and had been up night after night praying and struggling with her new reality. She didn’t want to die and leave us all behind, even with a strong testimony it was a struggle to align what she wanted with what Heavenly Father’s plan was for her and by extension her family and friends. She hoped for healing, we all did. But like the rescue that Helaman waited for, that is not what came. But she turned to the Lord and asked Him not for what she wanted but for what she needed and again, just like Helaman, she did receive that peace and assurance—and the way she served Heavenly Father and touched the lives of those around her was magnificent. Her strength made us stronger. The way she faced this trial with faith, served us—it made it easier for us to cope.
We were so blessed that last year of Christy’s life, each of us had unspeakably tender experiences with her, we were so blessed by the Lord. It was incredibly difficult to watch her suffer and decline, and when she passed away we were grief-stricken and exhausted. Only to have the trial of being without her begin. I am a little embarrassed to talk about my pain in losing Christy. I am well aware it is a sadness and a longing that many of you share in. But for myself, I felt a little like Helaman struggling to hold on while waiting for reinforcements. Losing Christy was so devastating that without realizing it, I think I had an expectation that we would be spared further trials. At least for a while anyway. But within the next two weeks my own father would be fighting for his life in the ICU, another family member was diagnosed with cancer and our youngest daughter was diagnosed with autism. Not only were these difficult realities on their own, but they actually magnified how much we missed Christy. How we have missed her support, her humor, her unconditional love and her wisdom. We missed her help. But the Lord had revealed to me faithful paths to follow, the examples of Christy and of Helaman. Examples that taught me to get over my own wants and expectations, to accept His will, to lean on Him, and to carry on.
Many times in our lives each of us may feel like we are like Helaman, under siege, hoping for rescue and wrestling with disappointments and setbacks. Sometimes rescue doesn’t look like rescue, sometimes our enemies look innumerable. Sometimes it is struggle to forgive, to be patient, and to be more concerned with the things of God then the things of men. But as we rely on the Lord, as we turn our hearts to him, as we desire to know His will and receive revelation--we will be blessed with peace and assurance, desire and faith will solidify to knowledge and we will be blessed to see that the light at the end of the tunnel is not the illusion--the tunnel is the illusion and God’s love is all around us.
I bear testimony of God’s love for us, I am so grateful for my Savior, for the strength and comfort He provides. May we all strive to more fully utilize the atonement to overcome our human frailties, to have the eyes to see His hand in our lives and ears to hear His voice beckoning to each us is my prayer.