We had an excellent lesson on the Atonement. I had heard good things about the lesson the week before which, in preparation for Easter, had been about Christ, the Resurrection and the Atonement. But the lesson was apparently too much for one evening, so this past Monday was the conclusion. As I said, the lesson was excellent. The teacher started out by asking us several semi-personal questions. "What is it like to be alone" for example (I can't remember the others).
It got me thinking about a lot of things. I have had a difficult past couple of weeks. Much of it, if not all, I bring on myself. That's usually how it works with me. Some people just find their lives have curve balls and wonder where those came from...for me it's like I have a clone, with an excellent pitching arm, and she's the source.
Lately, I have felt as though I have stumbled and fallen and that every time I start to pull myself up I get knocked back to the ground. We had General Conference a few weeks ago and I was feeling pretty good after that. Then it was back to the real world for a week. Then I had a good conversation with a friend of mine who kind of reminded me that things are never as bad as we perceive them...so don't give up. I was feeling good again. Today is not a feel good day.
Today I am combating feelings of regret, anger, loneliness, hopelessness, and worst of all, confusion. Regret because it's my own fault I feel this way. Anger, because I'd rather blame someone else. Loneliness because I foolishly am thinking that no one else knows how I feel. Hopelessness because I am beginning to doubt that anyone will ever truly want me. And confusion because words don't fit actions, don't fit feelings, and don't make sense.
I have never been one to be naturally gifted in the art of hoping for things, in believing that there is something better out there than what I already have, or what I have had in the past. Hope is something I have always had to roll up my sleeves and work for. Through the past couple of years I have gained adequate faith in certain areas of my life that it will be okay. Experience has taught me that, heartaches have taught me that, just as turning on a light switch teaches me that the light will come on - and even if that light doesn't come on, there's a way to repair that. The human body can repair itself, leaving scars as reminders, but the pain dissipates over time. I believe that the human soul, the personality, the "heart" can do the same. You just have to endure the pain for a little while.
As I am trying to work through my emotions, I keep thinking about that lesson. The Atonement has come to mean so much more to me than just what someone applies when they've sinned. At many different times in my adult life I have applied the Atonement to an aching heart, a bruised ego, a stumbling block in my personal progression. In addition to Monday's lesson, a million different church talks are running through my mind. The following quotes fit throughout the blog, but I almost felt like just putting them all together...it can be a game, match the quote with the thought...just kidding. I won't award points for that. Sorry.
Elder Neil L. Anderson said in his talk, 'Repent That I May Heal You':
At this very moment, someone is saying, “Brother Andersen, you don’t understand. You can’t feel what I have felt. It is too difficult to change.”
You are correct; I don’t fully understand. But there is One who does. He knows. He has felt your pain. He has declared, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” The Savior is there, reaching out to each of us, bidding us: “Come unto me.”This talk is about repentance (obviously) but when he says, "it is too difficult to change" I feel like it can be applied to any change in our lives, not just changing a habit within ourselves.
Something a little more recent. Elder Holland's talk just a few weeks ago, "The Laborers in the Vineyard":
Whether you are not yet of our faith or were with us once and have not remained, there is nothing in either case that you have done that cannot be undone. There is no problem which you cannot overcome. There is no dream that in the unfolding of time and eternity cannot yet be realized. Even if you feel you are the lost and last laborer of the eleventh hour, the Lord of the vineyard still stands beckoningI love Holland, so here’s another one. From "Remember Lot's Wife" about not dwelling on the past:
I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterday however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future -- faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot's wife is to say she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord's ability to give her something better than she had. Apparently she thought, fatally as it turned out, that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind.
And lastly - a letter by Lildonbro (me) to a dear friend. A way for me to eat my words and practice what I preach (with a quote by Neal A. Maxwell):
There is a talk by Elder Maxwell (But for a Small Moment) and he says, "The cavity which suffering carves into our souls will one day also be the receptacle of joy". Sometimes I feel like there are people who can carve out cavities in our souls and in our hearts, and while "carving" doesn't seem like the most pleasant thing (because it's not) they leave that cavity and that cavity becomes a choice for us. We can choose to board it up as best as we can and keep people out, or we can choose to look for someone who will fill it. Because I believe that those people who started carving had intended to fill it but life doesn't always go the way we plan. We get bumped and bruised and carved even, but in the end, we are to have joy. I hope you find someone to fill your cavity, someone to bring joy where once there was pain."
The point of this entry was simply to post some of my favorite quotes, quotes that I hope will slowly help me to "repair". But I thought I'd give you yet another incredibly vague look into the "real Lildonbro". I hope it wasn't too scary.