Friday night, we had a bon fire out in Goochland.
It was a lot of fun. People made smores and roasted Starbursts and struggled to find some kind of balance between freezing cold and burning hot.
Chris, Ben, Jessie G. and I left early and went downtown to see Richmond In Light. This is basically an art show spread through several streets. All the pieces have something to do with light. I went to this two years ago with Bryant and neither of us really knew how to take it. There were a few pieces that we liked - and we liked them because we gave them interpretations. This year wasn't much different. There was one piece that was a two quarter pieces of a globe, one piece solid and one clear, then there were some faint lights flashing images on it. I offered my interpretation - the world through the ages as they develop their relationship with God. There was once piece that gave the appearance of being interactive - but it was not - and the people in charge of the exhibit had a good laugh. That was kind of funny.
Saturday we had our evening session of Stake Conference. I love the Saturday evening - I don't know if it's the speakers or lack of children distracting me or what - but Saturday is my favorite. If you would indulge me for a bit I’d like to share some things from it.
Lately I have been struggling with several things – being a good disciple of Christ, forgiving others and forgiving myself. I’ve also been fighting thoughts and feelings that I am not good enough, that I don’t deserve certain things, that I am going to miss the opportunity for some things, and that I have forfeited others. Call it what you may, I called it a spiritual rut.
All of the talks were good Saturday night, but here are the highlights that helped me to start off my week in a good mood with more hope for my future.
Brother Palmese shared his favorite scripture with us (Moroni 10:32-33) which talks about being perfected in Christ and how this is open to all men, if they will apply the Atonement to their lives. He said (and I’ll paraphrase) – Sometimes we hang on to the things of the past and think that the Atonement will apply to others but not to ourselves.
I think there are times in my life when I believe the Atonement will work for others, but that for whatever reason, it is not applicable to me. But it IS applicable to all those who seek it.
Then there was a talk from a sister I didn’t know, her entire talk was about forgiveness – and as I said, that is something I have been struggling with. She said that to forgive is to turn over to God the ultimate right to judge. We can remember the offense but we are not obsessed with it. She talked about transforming our hearts into forgiving hearts and how that is a gift we give ourselves. I have long known that holding on to anger or a grudge or what have you, does not affect the offender the way it affects you. Something I have strived for is to be a forgiving person, and to be quick to forgive (because this is NOT how I was growing up). So lately, when I felt the offense was too great, I found that I couldn’t let it go. Not that I wanted to punish the offender, I certainly did not, but the pain and offense sank into my heart and at some point the anger took over so the pain could not. Something else she said stuck with me, she said, “The Atonement can make whole what once was broken.” I love this statement because I can see it on so many different levels; our hearts, our relationships, our covenants, etc.
I kept waiting for some magic seven step program that she was going to unfold and teach me how to let this one go – but instead, she read 3 Nephi 12:44, “I behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.”
These words were hard to swallow – but very necessary in helping me with the things I am struggling with. Added to Saturday evening were the Sunday session and a CES Devotional Sunday evening.
To kick off Sunday Conference, a young man I have met once or twice bore his testimony. I’m not sure what the issue this young man has, but if I had to guess, I would say that he is high functioning Autistic – but I’m in no position to diagnose people. He is a sweet and very honest young man (at least from my interactions). When they asked him to bear his testimony, they mentioned that he is an exceptional young man and a good example, I agree with this statement. His testimony was simple but very powerful and an excellent start to the session.
President Waters talked about Faith being an action. Something he said that really stood out to me was “Don’t make perfection the enemy of excellence.” He also said (paraphrasing) don’t let Satan tell you that your striving isn’t good enough.
Then (I promise I’m almost done), from Brother Gerald Causse’s CES Devotional last night, he gave us three things to help us find happiness.
1) Recognize your personal worth – He said that you are known and remembered by the most majestic being (paraphrasing again because I don’t write fast enough sometimes). Then he told us to imagine if we could view ourselves through Heavenly Father’s eyes. This really struck me, and I took a few moments to consider how the Lord saw me. I threw up in front of my mind, all the things I don’t like about myself and wiped them away as tried to imagine how the Lord saw my imperfections, my meager offerings, my failed attempts. I didn’t have much time to dwell on it, but the brief time I took filled me with an indescribably-positive feeling.
2) Become who you are – Remember who you want to become. If you were to receive a letter from your younger self stating all the things you want to become – would you be on track? Or better yet, what if you were able to receive a letter from yourself as you were and with the knowledge you had in the pre-mortal existence?
3) Trust in God’s Promises – “God is watching over you, and has made promises to you” We need to believe in those promises and to not give in to the “Eat, drink, and be merry” philosophy that is the opposite of hope.
I apologize if I was not able to convey even half of what I felt this weekend or be able to connect these highlights for you the way I connected them for myself. But I came away from this weekend feeling more determined to do those things that are of most worth to me. To pray more diligently, study my scriptures better, to allow myself to hope for the future, and to forgive others and myself. Last night, and again this morning, I prayed for those I felt despitefully used by and found that I am not as angry as I had thought, I do hope the best for those people – I just don’t want them in my life anymore. I’m not sure exactly what qualifies as forgiveness – but I know this is a step in the right direction and it is a gift I am trying to give myself.