Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Seeking a Savior

The picture at the right is the painting of Jesus that I grew up with. As a rather too introspective and critical child*, I remember looking at it for long periods of time, trying to feel out what in it was truly the Savior, and what was just a painting.

Unlike some, I was never under the illusion that Jesus really looked like that, nor have I ever been that interested in what He did look like. I wanted to know what He felt like. I have never cared whether he was scarred or misshapen, or an attractive, charismatic leader. What matters to me is what He thinks about me. But that's the problem, isn't it? Knowing what He truly thinks.

And it is just as much a problem for me now as ever.

I mentioned in a post some time ago that my mission president once challenged me to find out how the Lord feels about me. I was hesitant at first, but eventually got up the courage to ask. And what I felt was such an onslaught of love and esteem, that even now it makes me tremble in fear. Fear that I can't possibly live up to that much love. Fear that I could lose it. Fear that it wasn't special, that He felt that way about everyone, no matter what they do or how they act.

Some time ago, I realized that what I want more than His love is His trust. I want to be like Nephi, completely and wholly subsumed in His service, and His work. I long to forget myself, and go to work. I crave becoming the kind of person who He can trust to ask nothing of Him which is not His will.

Nephi gained that trust by proclaiming the word of God with unwearyingness, seeking the will of God and to keep His commandments. I have tried with all my heart to know the will of God, and to do it. But I am not unwearying. I am so, so tired. I long for a safe haven, a home in which to rest. And I wonder if my efforts to declare the word of God are what I think they are. Here in Salt Lake City, surrounded by other LDS members, I do not have much opportunity to declare the word in traditional ways. But I have tried to strengthen those around me, declaring what I feel to be the truth whenever it seems valuable.

But what if I'm wrong? What if my understanding of scripture and God is so far off the mark, I have been doing nothing but wasting my time, running in the wrong direction?

Whether this is an accurate picture of myself or not, it seems to me that I am acceptable to most others only when I am doing what they want me to do. When I fulfill the roles expected, I am ignored. When I betray even the smallest sliver of who I really am, the passion for excellence which is always pushing me to look deeper, they run the other way.

Currently surrounded by dozens of daily messages that I am nothing special, good mostly for menial chores and the most basic of tasks, I am beginning to believe it. What I have to offer has no purpose, no real use to others. They don't really want me to be engaged and passionate about what I do, they just want me to sit down, shut up, and do what I'm told. And I have reluctantly decided it is better to be ignored than criticized.

Time and time again, I tried to be passionate at what I do, tried to truly care in the hopes that it would do some good in the service of God. And I failed. I fail at being a good mom, a good teacher, a good employee, a good girlfriend, a good sibling, a good disciple. I can't improve my job, truly connect to someone as a friend, or nurture and succor people around me who are hurting. Everything I truly care about which I put my hand to fails.

But that is exactly where I must find my Savior again. That is where I must trust that HE, of all people, wants my passion, my intensity, my drive to do better. Even if I live my life unable to connect to others, to find happiness, I must learn to connect to Him in my failures. He is not in the picture hanging on the wall, two dimensional and easily manipulated to what I believe Him to be, but next to me, holding my hand, a living, breathing, real person.

When I feel how much of a burden, how much of a failure I really am, He stands there, telling me to forget about it. Most of the time, I have a hard time hearing Him. The voices in my mind telling me that I'll never be worth anything seem far more immediate than He is. I can't look in His eyes, feel His arms around me. I can't weep on His shoulder or see His love reflected back at me in the eyes of the people I care about. But I know He is there. I know that even if I live the rest of my days as a socially awkward failure, somehow, SOMEHOW, it won't matter to Him.

As a woman who has no trust left for herself, I find the trust in Him which I need to get up every morning, face my failures and keep walking forward. That is how He is my Savior, my King, my friend. In every sense of the words.

Walking forward is my offering to Him. I can't be cheerful all the time. I can't always see the positive in my life. I can't always deal with the disappointments I continually face with grace and poise. But in the middle of feeling like I am nothing, to keep going with little encouragement, to act on any small scrap of Spirit I can tease out of my frustrations with myself, to let go of my failures to Him, and let Him worry about them, is what I can do. And through it all, to keep trying to love and to serve whether or not my efforts are worth anything.

Because that is all I have to offer Him. And I fully intend to offer Him all I have.

* Isn't good to know that people can change. . . .


  1. I've been struggling with this a bit myself, lately. I mean, when I ask, I get the outpouring of love and approval, but some some reason, part of me doesn't believe it. Part of me also wishes for something more tangible, even though I know firely letters across the sky still wouldn't chase away the doubts I have in myself. If we know it, why can't we accept it?

    I suppose the least we can do is like in the movie Sleepless in Seattle - "I get out of bed every morning, I breathe in and out" etc.

    Anyway, I hope you continue to find inspirations on what you can do to keep moving forward.

  2. I feel your words, SR. Part of me knows I am doing okay, but another part sometimes shouts louder, saying that I haven't done enough and what I have done, I have done badly.

    It is a real struggle some days and you encapsulate it so well here.

    "Walking forward is my offering to Him."

    Amen and God bless.

  3. You don't know me, and I don't know you and I probably live half a continent away from where you do. But I stop in every once in a while to read your blog because I think it is such an articulate, thoughtful piece of work.

    Which also leads me to understand that it is not true that you are not something special and makes me want to point out that there is at least one person, me, who sincerely hopes that you do not sit down and shut up.

    Best wishes for better days.

  4. Awesome.

    We wait for the bridegroom like fanboys camping out to see the next Star Wars (when that was the big thing) movie. What to do while you're waiting?

    And then he will come, and we'll wonder how in the world we got by back in the day.


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