Thursday, January 10, 2013

Praying for Charity

I remember how it felt one night several years ago when I pled with God to grant me charity. I was naturally a very selfish, self-centered teenager. But when I read Moroni's words it struck me what my next step of discipleship should be. Gradually, over many days and months of pondering the concept of charity, the urgent desire to carry this "pure love of Christ" grew stronger and stronger. It was a frightening thing, to pray for charity. This charity is what led the Savior to perform the Atonement. It caused the apostles of old to give their lives in service to fellow man, in service that is no more appreciated now than it was then. It is this charity which causes those disciples who tarried to feel the full burden of the sorrows of the world. And I, with my acute sensitivity, feel plenty of sorrow of others as is, enough that I built layers of emotional defense against it. I didn't know if I could handle more compassion. And it does hurt. Now, when I see people angry over various actions of those in the Church, or hurting because of the way they have been treated or because of their understanding of certain doctrines, my soul aches with theirs. It burns so strongly, it often makes it hard to not try to reach out to them, even though it usually just makes them lash out at me as a more physical representation of all they hate. I have developed the ability to weep over things that seem so distant to me. It seems strange, even to me, that I could be devastated over such things. Charity is painful. But fortunately it comes with enough joy to balance the pain and sorrow. There is no real way I can describe the process, especially since I'm barely on the path myself. But I am truly loving the gift of love which the Spirit has given me along with the agony. Even though it hurts, it has given me the strength I need to rise above my own hardships and trials. It has given me the capacity to rejoice fully in others' achievements, even while I sorrow at my own lack. Through all this changing and growing, I am getting my first glimpses into the personalities of scripture. Now I understand the prophets in ways that weren't quite real to me before. When Moroni weeps, I am right there with him. When Nephi sorrows over the destruction of his people, my heart cries understanding. I know many people doubt the reality of the BoM, believing it to be pure allegory and fiction. But I know the prophets of the BoM and Bible are real, because I can feel them. These are not men invented to tell a story, they really felt the sorrows of the world, they really rejoiced over the glory of God. As I have worked my way there, I can hear their words calling to me and telling me I am not alone. The gospel is truly beautiful.

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