Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Perfection"

So today's Realization has much to do with feelings common among the people around me. And I want to share my opinion. No better place to do that then in a blog post on a blog that has 5 followers (and I think a few have actually discontinued their accounts) but I will not be discouraged! Not that this is a particularly discouraging situation but there's something empowering in the phase "I will not be discouraged!" And while that has nothing to do with having a blog it has everything to do with today's post:

I just read part of this article:

http://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/08/i-have-a-question/i-have-a-question?lang=eng&query=broderick

While the entire thing is probably great I was really lured in by the question:

The Savior said that we should be perfect, even as he and our Father in Heaven are perfect. (See 3 Ne. 12:48.) Are we expected to achieve perfection in this life? If so, how can I avoid becoming discouraged with myself as I try to achieve it?

This is something I've mulled over in my mind over and over again and here are some things that I have come across in my casual studies:

1) To be perfect means to be "whole," not necessarily "without flaw".
2) God does not expect us to be perfect in this life.
3) Being on the correct path to perfection brings affirmation from people you trust.
4) "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" is an inspiring scripture.

But here is how I interpreted it whether I knew it or not:

1) To be on the right path to perfection is to feel whole as you are achieving perfection.
2) God expects you to be making pretty good head-way in this life on being perfect.
3) If I make my church leaders and parents proud of me then I'm achieving perfection.
4) In God's eyes I'm a project that is trying to deserve His patience.

As you can see there is often a disparity (you know you liked that Caitlan) between what I take in and what I process. But I am not at all under the impression that I am alone in this misunderstanding nor am I under the impression that this is a comprehensive list of common misconceptions.

Now I want to share some things from this article that opened my eyes just a little wider today and reminded me why the end goal of perfection is not a punishment for the imperfect but instead a feasible goal for those who are willing to follow the footsteps of those who have 1) commanded it and 2) done it before:

Perfect can also mean “having all flaws and errors removed.”

While I knew this, I didn't really know it because I know that repentance is a true principle that Jesus Christ taught, I didn't realize that the very definition of perfection was to repent. I knew that if we repent we can become perfect and that God has commanded us to repent... I just never realized that when He commanded us to be perfect it was nearly synonymous with the commandment to repent. Which for some reason seems much more possible.

 The Lord himself has warned us about being unrealistic in our expectations. To a young prophet, deeply contrite over losing 116 pages of sacred manuscript, the Lord said: “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength.” (D&C 10:4.) 

Provided that you believe that Joseph Smith was a man of God (and the one person who reads this does) then it's a little easier to understand why this moment in Joseph Smith's life (http://mormon.org/restoration/) was particularly discouraging. He had openly disobeyed God and fell short of a much demanded "perfection". But God's counsel to him (although he was chastised) was to calm down and slow down. To breathe! How often do we think once we've realized that we've done wrong and sufficiently realized the weight of our error think "now I will take a moment to breathe and slow my pace a little bit." And how wise would our future actions be if we did?

I think this is long enough for today but there is so much more in that article that I may write more later! Either way I hope that messages like these make it out to more people more often so we can all confidently say "I will not be discouraged!" on our own personal and transcendental quest for perfection.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

From Salt Lake to Dunauj

So this post is to explain the reference in my last post to Viki.


The story starts in February of 2010. I have a mission call but am still all nervous about actually going and if it's the thing that God wants me to do. After so many unanswered prayers about whether or not I should go, I'm about at my wits end! A few friends and I went to Salt Lake and after finding out that the Salt Lake temple is closed we decide to go see The Joseph Smith movie. We'd each seen the movie at least 3 times but there was nothing else to do so we went!


Like I said I had seen it several times but this time something different happened. There's a part where the prophet, Joseph Smith, stands in chains and rebukes his guards for their disgusting language and boasting of horrible crimes they had committed, including the murdering of several Latter-day Saints on several occasions. He stands and tells them pretty clearly that they should stop talking or either they or he "will die that instant." That part is pretty dramatic and at that moment your a little caught up in his bravery but it's what he says next that caught my attention as well as my heart. It was something to the effect of:

The worth of every soul 
is great in the eyes of God.

At that moment I suddenly had the strongest experience with emotion I can remember having. Suddenly I could only think of Hungary and had a very distinct impression that the decision to go on a mission was mine but if I needed a reason, this was it. I could go tell people that they were worth an indescribable amount to their Father in Heaven.

Fast forward almost 2 years. I come to the end of my mission and honestly I feel like I've had a pretty great mission but as if I haven't really had an experience where I really helped someone understand that God loves them. I mean you have many experiences where that naturally comes and it's a great experience but I hadn't had a moment where it was very obvious that I was there to deliver this message. And that was fine, I just accepted that it had naturally been woven into my work, until I met Viki.

As I said before, Viki is an absolute sweetheart who's had her fair share of hardships. The Relief Society President asked us to meet with her and actually came herself. So the 4 of us sat down at a table and started to just chat. The RS president is really good with people and of course speaks Hungarian perfectly so she kind of led the lesson until a maintenance man wandered into the church building. She went to help him and my companion also went to help. This left me and Viki at the table.

As we started to talk she expressed feelings of distress at the idea that she was trying so hard but struggled so much. Eventually she told me that she was afraid that God wasn't happy with her. With all the missionary authority I had in me I told her that "[her] worth is great in the sight of God" (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10). I then explained a few thoughts that I had developed over the past two years from the time this idea first struck me. The feelings in the room were of confirmation that Viki was truly precious in the eyes of God. 

There is no soul that is not priceless to God. I know that because by all logic I shouldn't have even been in the area I was in when I talked to Viki, through a strange series of events we found ourselves together in a little room/ kitchen in a branch house in an obscure part of Europe helping each other understand that God was on our side and rooting for us. And if God is with us, who could be against us!