“I, the Lord, Remember Them No More”

Yesterday in Sacrament meeting was a rare experience to hear from two soon-to-be sister missionaries. I could tell that the nerves of serving and the butterflies and excitement were present in their minds. Nonetheless, I knew that these sisters loved the Lord and were prepared to consecrate the next year and half to Him. I know that it was no coincidence that both of these sisters were assigned to talk about forgiveness, not only for their sakes, but a personal message to me from God.

Both sisters did well, and the Spirit of God was flooding that heavily packed chapel. But it was the second sister who sparked a different way of thinking about forgiveness and greater introspection. This sister spoke about a book she had read in high school about a holocaust survivor. The woman who had gone through intense, bitter, and fierce hardship ultimately survived the horrors of that dark time of her life. She writes that one of the deepest trials and sufferings she had to endure was the murder of her only sister. She recounts the SS soldiers who tortured and killed not only her sister, but thousands of other innocent people.

Decades after, she had found reconciliation in Christianity and thought that she was starting to move on. Her beliefs and personal messages consisted of forgiveness, the mercy and grace of God, and faith. Upon one Sunday service, she had given an incredible sermon on the very topic that consumed her life: mercy. After her sermon she had noticed a gentleman that was new to the congregation and immediately recognized the man. He had been one of the soldiers standing guard at the gas bath that killed her sister. In the book, she recounts the battle she had within herself. The battle of knowing and believing in mercy and forgiveness and not being able/not wanting to forgive the man that was involved in the atrocities of the Holocaust. Her battle stemmed from deep within herself and is one that we all can understand at a personal level. This man was so relieved and happy that he had heard her message and was seeking the alleviation of his deeds from long ago. She wasn’t sure if her heart was ready to forgive and put into action the principles she professed to live by. She writes that she was about to give up when she remembered Christ, who had suffered and endured the worst of the worst and still forgave. She could feel His love and knew that she could forgive and continue with her life free from the shackles of blame and hurt.

I reflected on this story and continued to meditate more on Christ and the grace that He freely and lovingly gives. I pondered on the events of that Atoning Thursday and the day after when He’d be smitten, spit on, and crucified. He never retaliated and turned the other cheek. His ability to love and forgive are paramount. What He went through was not only to glorify and obey His Father, but because He loved us perfectly. Because of Him we can be cleansed from sin, have the strength and grace to forgive and be forgiven, and have advocate who knows how to endure all things. I came to realize that His Atonement is not restricted to anyone. It is available to everyone. And who am I to deny the peace that is a blessing of the Atonement of Jesus Christ? How prideful and audacious am I to not forgive another?

These talks and the Spirit of God have been answers to my deepest concerns and prayers. It has been scary and frightening, to say the least, to be honest with myself and asking and acting what God says I need to change in my life. I hope that we all have the courage to defy the consensus of being hard hearted and prideful. May we follow Him who descended below all things. Truly the greatest of us all.

My Cup Runneth Over

One of my favorite quotes is by a famous author and theologian, Albert Schweitzer. In his book, Reverence for Life: The Words of Albert Schweitzer, he encapsulates a truth so perfectly. He says, “He who does not reflect his life back to God in gratitude does not know himself.”

This post has originated out of a place of solitude and loneliness. For the last month and a half I have felt the most lonely I have in my entire life and I wasn’t sure how to deal with being lonesome and isolated. It didn’t help that I’ve been in my grandpa’s basement watching Netflix and catching up on tv series I’ve missed the past year, but the feelings still permeate my soul. It’s a major shift from what I’ve been used to the last three years; being surrounded by people my age and the ability to make plans whenever I wanted to. I’m naturally a reserved, quiet, and keep to myself kind of person, but there’s only so much isolation one can take before you go crazy. My mind often wanders and I find myself daydreaming and waking up to the harsh reality that I’m so eager to escape. No matter the amount of pretending or daydreaming I do, there really isn’t breaking free of what my current situation is. I need something.

But everything changed (when the fire nation attacked😉 ) because of a word of encouragement from Elder David A. Bednar I saw on Facebook two weeks ago. He talks about FOMO, also known as the fear of missing out. When we allow ourselves to do that and not see beyond our own situation we give in to the temptation to take counsel from our fears. Taking counsel from our fears means to let fear steer and guide our lives, fear overpowering faith, and not being grateful for the blessings the Lord has given and will still give. I have countlessly meditated and thought over his counsel and reminded of the infinite love God has for me and can’t help but tearfully smile at that knowledge. I am His daughter and whoever reads this post and needs to know that they are children of a loving and gracious Father in Heaven. As King David puts it in a psalm: “My cup runneth over”.

My fears of loneliness and gratitude have been blinding me to the truth of how blessed I have been. Remember that God loves you and nothing is more important to Him than your happiness. He is always there.

Disciples of Jesus Christ

Probably the most talked about and trending topic on social media is Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. I’ve seen so many tweets, Facebook posts, and news articles about this and I have to admit, it’s been exhausting. My initial reaction was to stay away from any discussion because I realized the amount of hateful things that were being thrown around from both sides of the argument. My perspective changed though because of a devotional address given at BYU-Idaho. Elder William R. Walker, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy spoke on the importance of the temple in the lives of latter-day saints. He spoke on the learning, peace, and covenants that we make in God’s Holy house. During his address I was reminded of the covenants I have made with God. For those unfamiliar with those, in Mosiah 18:8-10, Alma teaches the people what they are promising to God through baptism. He says,

“And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?”

What kind of disciple would I be if I didn’t stand for the very cause I promised to uphold? I believe that being a disciple of Jesus Christ requires twofold: bearing witness of Jesus Christ, in all circumstances, and living His teachings.

This entire week I’ve read responses from both sides of the board: Those who support Caitlyn/Bruce and demand that Christian bigots should stop hating on him AND the unkind, unnecessary comments from those who oppose his decision. We all have the right to our own opinions, but what matters most is how we treat people, especially those we don’t agree with.

During His mortal ministry Christ was the perfect example of love. He is the epitome of charity. No person, creed, or race is excluded from His infinite love and grace. The Savior is our example on how to feel toward and treat others. He despised wickedness, but He loved sinners despite their sins. He declared to His disciples:

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).”

Our charity towards others characterizes us as disciples of Jesus Christ. We need to elevate our living.

Now I’m not saying that we accept his decision to “transition” or any other sinful behaviors he’s exhibited. Christ-like love and tolerance of behaviors/lifestyle are totally different.What I believe is the very antithesis of what Bruce has done or believes. But that does not give me the right to slander him or those who are in the same situation.What I’m saying now is that we take out the stones from our metaphorical slings and show respect, dignity, and grace toward him and those alike. When I am at the judgement bar, I hope that Christ will recognize my attempts to be like and act like He would.

Paradoxes Everywhere

Jumbo shrimp. A delectable food, yet something doesn’t seem right. Shrimp are wee little crustaceans, but we put the word ‘jumbo’ in front of it. Another word, bittersweet, used to describe a moment or noun that gives us pleasure all the while slipping in sensations of pain or loss. One of my favorites, “I’m a nobody”, surely will get your head in a spin when you think about it existentially. Whether or not you feel that nobody notices you, someone or multiple people do know you exist. All of these words and phrases are one of my favorite tools used in literature: paradoxes. They sum up the complexity that is life. It gives us a moment to think about the all too common occurrences in our lives.

You might think, “Why the heck do I care about what you say? I don’t even know you.” Oh but you do. I believe paradoxes are so common in our nature. I love broadway music, but enjoy listening to some R&B and Hip Hop. My dream is to one day attend an opera in West End, but bask in the moment of getting dirty at a softball game. I’d be a fool (and you too) to think that I am alone in this. Take a moment. Think about who you are. You’d be surprised to find out what makes you, you.