I recently had the opportunity to teach a lesson on something that I don't usually take the time to think about: forgiveness. Of course when I make mistakes (as I regularly do), I quickly hope for others' forgiveness so that I can move on and try to do better the next time. But what about when I am in a position to forgive another? Sometimes, hurt or frustration at being wronged makes it difficult to forgive and move on from a negative situation.
A family member shared the wise saying, "carrying a grudge is like slowly being stung to death by the same bee." While I regularly hope that others will forgive me, it is often times difficult to reciprocate that forgiveness to others. How can we move past hurt feelings and gain the peace that comes from forgiveness? Answers are so specific to each instance, but I know that through prayer and sometimes humbling ourselves, we can find the strength and the power we need to forgive those who have wronged us. As the Savior taught on many instances, it is not our place to judge others, but to humbly ask our Heavenly Father to, "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 5:12). I hope that I can learn more fully to move beyond past hurts and not only forgive others to gain peace for myself, but to also extend a small portion of the gift we have been given through Christ's sacrifice for each one of us.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I have always been a little silly about my scriptures, especially because I've always had a copy with the Old and New Testament, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine & Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. When I started college, I knew that my scriptures from high school seminary were a bit marked up and there wasn't really a meaning in my markings; simply, the more markings, the more I liked the scripture or the more times I had learned from its teachings. My best friend finally suggested we move on to new scriptures together. Well, I did it. I bought new scriptures and I signed up for a scripture study/power of the word institute of religion class at my university. It was such a hard thing for me when I would go to do my personal study of the scriptures to pick up the completely unmarked copy and study. I found myself more often than not turning to my seminary scriptures looking for the comfortable feeling I found there.
As I attended my institute class on scripture study, I was grateful I had purchased the new scriptures. I was grateful that I was able to start over in my marking and create a process of marking that really meant something and aided in my learning from those great pages. I found that as I marked and read and studied, I found greater and deeper meanings from the pages of the books I had read since I was a young girl. I found that I could identify principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and then ponder upon the applications to my own life. Changing to what I now refer to as my "institute and college" scriptures was a great decision. It opened the doors to new learning and growth in my understanding of Jesus Christ, His atonement, His love, and His plan. I found that this change was something I needed. So often, change is hard. We move places, we end schooling, we find a career, we meet someone who changes our life, we question what we believe, we wonder if mom and dad really did know everything, but no matter what it is, things change. These changes can and often are wonderful opportunities for growth. Moments when we can put our trust and faith in the Lord and know that even though we may not know the outcome, He does.
About two months ago, my husband and I packed up our belongings, put them in storage and moved in with my parents for a couple of months, hoping we would have our own place soon. This was just one of those changes I would face in the coming months. I was unpacking and went to grab my scriptures when I suddenly realized they were no where to be found among the heaps of belongings we had transferred to my parent's home. I was devastated. Were they in the car? At the old apartment? In the storage unit? I worried and prayed and searched for those beloved scriptures that had come to symbolize so much for me. I scoured the car, cleaned every part of the apartment and even went through most of the boxes in our storage unit. I did not find them. I was sure they were accidentally packed away in the far reaches of a box I couldn't get to, or that they would simply show up eventually. Luckily, I had another set I studied from during the month and 1/2 that we were there, but that didn't save me from a few tears.
We did finally get our own place and as we unpacked every box, my apprehension grew. My scriptures were not there. I again gave myself up to weeping on behalf of my scriptures. They had come to mean so much to me. They had been the tool for much of my gospel growth and learning in the last 6 years. I had taken them to 4 different countries. I was devastated and sat on the floor crying. I finally moved to my knees and asked my Father in Heaven if He could help me find my scriptures that were such a treasure to me. As happens when we pray, He answered, but not in the way I was hoping. I had the feeling come over me that seemed to say, "Change is important. You are changing, your life is changing, and your learning in the gospel also needs to change. It's time to get some new scriptures. There is much more for you to learn." I can't say I heard those words exactly, but I do know that I felt very strongly that it was time for me to change. I am grateful that the Lord sees fit to teach us in ways that are so perfect for us. My scriptures have been a symbol of growth and change for me so many times. I know that they truly do hold the word of God for us and that as we truly study the words within the pages, we will grow, change, and find new life for the new us.
Monday, June 8, 2009
It's a recognized fact that "children say the darndest things," likely because they see the world in such a literal way. For example, my two-year-old nephew one day overheard his dad saying about something or other, "I don't give a care." And my nephew, after a few moments went up to his dad and held out his tiny, clenched fist. Then he said, "Here, Dad. Here's a care," and placed an invisible "care" on the table for his dad.
There was a time in my life when it was safer not to care too much about things because I feared that they would be taken away or ruined. Even at a young age, I had experienced the heartache of losing things and people that were very dear to me. I deliberately walled off my heart, and was probably heard to say at one time or another that I didn't "give a care." Certainly that was my calloused approach to life for quite some time.
I remember in the early weeks of being newly married that I frequently experienced a lot of fear about losing my husband. I had opened my heart to him and had learned to care for him deeply. I could not bear the thought of the pain it would cause me to lose him, and it made me a little worried that I had let myself become so emotionally vulnerable.
Now we are expecting our first baby. And already, the intense and pure sense of care I feel for this little one is overwhelming. There are moments when I wonder if I could possibly handle any more.
The more I live it, the more my life seems to teach me to "give a care." I cannot honestly say I have completely abolished the fear of losing what has come to mean more to me than anything in the world -- my family -- but I can say that the edge of my fears has been softened by a better understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know through revelation given by God to modern prophets that "the divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally." (See also "The Gospel Blesses Families and Individuals" at mormon.org)
The love and care I give to my family changes when I remember that the relationships I develop and nurture now will last not only through this life, but also throughout the eternities. I desire to be more patient, more understanding, more helpful and more grateful.
I marvel at how rich life can be when I allow myself to care a little more about those around me. It always seems that a day is brighter when I am at peace with others in my life. Even after the glow of the "honeymoon period" in marriage has been replaced by the common tasks of day-to-day living, the sense of loving care I feel toward my husband has not diminished, but has been enriched. I anticipate the same will be true with our little baby, despite the expected onslaught of diapers, midnight feedings, and meltdowns. Opening our fists to give a "care" on a daily basis is not mundane, but is exalting. Indeed, in so doing, we become more like our Savior, whose hand, which bears the marks of His sacrifice for us, "is stretched out still." (Isaiah 49:16, Isaiah 9: 12, 21)