Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Paradox of Choice

I ran into a TED conference message that I thought well worth listening to, particularly when listened to in light of LDS doctrines of eternity, mortality, agency, and gender identity. I would like to know what you think of it.

Warning: There are a few mild swear words and a brief moment of comic strip nudity. I think the message is worth it, but be aware of this before you click "play".

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Tarnished Mirror of Self-reflection

I've been thinking quite a bit about charity lately. I'm a very selfish, uncharitable person and I don't want to be. When I was a very young child, it wasn't hard to reach out to those who needed me, but the older I become the more pain I feel and the more afraid I am to help or be helped.

Many things have been going on in my life over the past several years, and the past year in particular, I have found myself in the completely unacceptable position of relying on others for emotional support. I find myself, more often than not, complaining to people about my unsolvable problems. I find I have become a very ugly, very dark person to be around. Absorbed in my own problems, and having no way to either solve them or accept them, I feel the burden I'm placing on those around me, which is in turn making me want to withdraw more rather than less. And, as awkward and clumsy as I am, most of my efforts to return the gesture of a listening ear and safe place to vent are not fruitful.

I hate what I am becoming.

My desire to serve others is swamped by my desperate need for help that cannot exist and my inability to show that I want to help others. How I would love to get my mind off my problems by listening to someone else! I am no longer good at listening, at serving God's other children. I am afraid to reach out both because I don't know what I can offer others, and because I don't know how to show that I'm sincere without my own selfish needs washing over my intention to serve. Exhausted and with very little time and fewer acquaintances, what can I do? How can I find the strength to drop my burdens and serve?

How does one cease to be selfish and develop charity?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stop, and Stand Still

I am, by nature, a doer. I work hard for whatever goal I find at the moment. Right now, I'm not able to work for the goal I want, a goal I know the Lord wants for me. This is why particular words spoken by the Lord to Joseph Smith struck me deeply. The Lord tells Joseph that there are those waiting to destroy him, and "for this cause I have said: Stop, and stand still until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee."

When I read it, the Spirit jumped in my heart, and I knew that commandment was also for me. It is perhaps the hardest thing the Lord has asked of me: to not do. To stand by while I watch much of my efforts to fulfill other commandments He has given me crumble around me.

But He goes on to reassure me and Joseph, "if thou art faithful in keeping my commandments, [including the commandment to be still,] thou shalt be lifted up at the last day. Amen."

Faith is a hard thing, indeed.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I Believe in Exaltation

Articles of Faith #10
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

There is a great deal in this small verse. Most of it seems rather scholarly in nature. The point of these posts, however, is not scholarly but is testimonial. I could get into talking about the lost ten tribes of Israel and the Millennium, but so much information is strictly hypothetical. There is a great deal that is not hypothetical, revealed in visions of the Millennium and in prophecies about the ten tribes, but most of that is highly symbolic. I feel there is a reason for that, and don't really want to touch on that more than briefly.

My understanding of the Father's Plan for His children is twofold: that there must be a Fall, and there must be a redemption from that Fall. Most of the covenants and meaning found in Israel and the tribes is wrapped up in that great and First covenant that God made before the world was created, appointing a Savior and appointing one to Fall. After his choice, Adam received the Atoning Covenant on behalf of all His children, appointed to the Priesthood which he could pass to his righteous sons. That birthright is tied up in the Priesthood, as priesthood wielders stand as proxy for Christ himself in ministering to His children. That Priesthood was given to Abraham and down to Israel, making the family of Israel a symbol for priesthood power and the promise of atonement. Only those who become righteous have this priesthood and are counted as part of this family. Zion, the inhabitants of which were fully righteous, being complete beneficiaries of the Priesthood promise, is a symbol of the fulfillment of this promise: exaltation.

As a symbol, the Priesthood, Zion and Israel represent very real power granted through the Atonement from Christ himself. Every time we participate in priesthood ordinances ranging from the Sacrament to temple ordinances, we are reenacting a part of this wonderful Plan, strengthening our dedication to it. The promise that we can go home someday cannot be paralleled by any other promise. Nothing else matters before that great covenant.

We will not go home unchanged. We will, in this life, make some necessary steps towards exaltation, towards realizing our full potential as children of the Most High. I think if we really understood what this meant, the merest urge to sin would nauseate us. The Law and the Atonement are not about fitting a mold, it is about blossoming. Anything we do to fight against that hurts only us in the long run.

Whatever my judgment shall be, I look forward to meeting the Savior. I hope I will be enfolded in His arms, allowed to plead with Him directly for forgiveness and thank Him for His amazing gift. I love Him, and I long for the day when the earth itself shall be exalted and I will see the Plan of God fulfilled.

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