Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Reason for the Season

Of course, the title and the timing probably make you think this is a Christmas post. But it isn't really your typical post about a newborn babe, mangers, donkeys, and a virgin mother. The Church's video A Savior is Born covers that with far better artistry than I could.

But I feel the urge to write something very different. When I was searching for a title, this is the one that came to me. And maybe, in some ways, it's more Christmas-appropriate than I intended. It is certainly exposing a huge part of myself, which is a frightening thing, especially given everything. I'm going to talk about sin, and its consequences. I'm going to talk about imperfection, and the desperate hunger to be perfect in order to be loved. I'm going to talk about learning to accept the Atonement in the midst of sin and imperfection. And I'm going to talk about forgiveness.

Many years ago—I can't remember if it was before or after my life took a drastic turn—I prayed for charity. It's kind of a joke that if you pray for an increase in faith, patience, charity, or some other Godly virtue, you are setting yourself up for disaster. But when I finally knelt down and prayed for charity, I knew exactly what I was doing. I had been prompted by the Spirit to learn charity for some time. Even my patriarchal blessing commanded me to overcome selfishness. I had studied, read about Abinadi, Nephi, Abraham, Noah. I had pored over the words of Paul. It had struck deeply into my heart: "[if I] have not charity, I am nothing."

I didn't want to be nothing.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Messy Faith

"Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."
Isaiah 6:10

I'm exhausted. The things going on in my life have me flat-on-my-back emotionally and physically. I don't even have the energy to put up a tree this year (but I'm going to do it anyways.) School, two wards, work, friends, and family all have their demands and/or expectations, and I haven't got anything to give.

I'm not a very good Mormon. I don't make casseroles to take to people. I have no time for crafts. I can't even get my visiting teaching done (but there's always next month to do it right!, my VT Supervisor says.) I feel pretty good even when I make cookies or something to take to my neighbors. My testimony is "complicated," as I put it when trying to explain it in RS yesterday. Unlike the woman on the back row, I DO doubt, I have doubted, and I AM doubting, but I know "by my own experience" that faith and doubt most certainly can occupy the same space at the same time. Because my faith isn't about "feeling good" about something. It is, and always has been, a raw choice for me. I can't explain my turbulence of emotion and how I have come to float on top of it. But I have. I'd be a bad liberal, too, if I were one, for the exact same types of reasons.

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