Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Forgotten Grief, World Without End

"And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; ...

... and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

—D&C 132:19

When I was a young teenager, I realized that because of my impatience and temper I would never make a good mother. Steeped in a culture that rigidly emphasized motherhood as the measure of female worth, tall, gawky, and unattractive, I simply assumed I was not feminine enough to attract a man, nor compliant and sweet enough to mother innocent children. So I decided to focus on work, on the things that I COULD change.

It was in this mindset some years later that I received my Patriarchal Blessing. I won't share the details, but it gave very specific instructions and commandments from God which painted a picture of me as a stay-at-home mom, supporting my husband in his church and public service, raising many children and keeping the doors of my home open to all who needed a safe haven.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Behold Your Little Ones

When I was a young teenager, I sat on the ground at the edge of a large pavilion. It was dark, and I was surrounded by other girls and women. It was Young Women's Camp, and it had been pouring rain for three days.

We had an old, military-issue canvas tent, the type which leaked water if you touched the sides. We were soaked, our food was cold because we could not keep a fire, even under shelter. The wind had blown down some of the tents, and two of the wards had gone home. When the leaders of our ward had asked us, my two best friends and I wanted to stay, and we convinced the two other girls to agree. Which is why, clutching flashlights and huddled together, I was among those who were left under a tent which, for the first time since we had pitched our tents, did not patter with raindrops.

I loved it. The air was scented with Austrian white pine and rain. We had seen enough sunshine to dry out a rainwashed set of clothing. We had carefully started a fire, gathered around the tent, and prayed. One at a time, people got up to bear their testimony of the Savior. One of the younger leaders, a girl who seemed at the time to be so old, had just returned from her mission. There was nothing unique about her testimony except that, as I sat there, I was suddenly overcome with the knowledge that I, too, wanted to serve a mission.

Years of change followed. I decided I wanted to change my life around, clean up my language and my thoughts, be a better person. I went to college and prepared to serve a mission. Many things happened in those years, but eight years later, I opened up my mission papers. Six weeks after that, I stepped off a plane onto German soil.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Power to Change

"For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved." —1 Nephi 6:4

I've been thinking a great deal of conversion, of what it really means to change a life around, purify yourself, and come to the God of sacrifice. Many times in my life, I've had reason to doubt myself, my conviction, and most especially my capacity to be saved.

So often, we think about missionary work, conversion, baptisms in terms of trackable numbers. Goals. I spent most of my mission wearing myself out against this perception of what it means to proclaim the gospel. And I get it. Numbers can be measured, goals can be set, failure or success can be determined. But the older I get, the more I live through, and the more I come to terms with having to live with my own imperfections, the more I realize that numbers can never measure the capacity of a human heart to change. And none of us have a right to decide whether or not a heart can change—not even when that heart is our own.

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