“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
I have a confession. There is something I’m really good at that I wish I wasn’t. In fact, if it was a college major, I would hold a PhD in it. If it was a sport, I would be the team’s MVP.
What is this “skill,” this quality, this thing I’m confessing to be so good at? I’ll tell you. I could win an Academy Award, the Stanley cup, the World Cup, a Pulitzer, Grammy, and the Nobel Prize in imperfection. My fingers would be weighed down by the Super Bowl rings of inconsistency. I would be the World Series winner of human weakness.
I am, in fact, perfectly imperfect. I’m consistently, reliably and predictably so. You could even set your watch by it.
But here’s the thing: If imperfection was an Olympic sport, each one of us would hold Gold Medals in that particular event.
We are all in the same club, honorary members of that human condition. Paul called us out some 2,000 years ago when he said that we all sin and “come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
A Culture of Perfection
“When comparing one’s personal performance with the supreme standard of the Lord’s expectation, the reality of imperfection can at times be depressing.”
-Russell M. Nelson
And yet in the midst of this messy, clumsy, broken, mortal experience, we can sometimes find ourselves trapped in a culture of perfection.
We look at the lists of Ward, Stake, Area and Church-wide initiatives, a panoply of do’s and don’ts, a smorgasbord of great ideas to make us better, more faithful, kinder, forgiving, repentant, charitable, family-centered, temple-oriented, missionary-minded and less imperfect children of a perfect God.
And we shrink a little.
We compare ourselves to the ideal, recognizing how few of the items on those lists we’re very good or consistent at doing for very long and note how terribly much we fall inexcusably short. Or so we tell ourselves.
“Be ye therefore perfect” is the celestial injunction, after all! Christ said it himself!
So yes, perfection is the endgame, the ultimate target we organize our ultimate efforts around. It’s right to be reminded that there is such a target and that there are inspired steps to it, that there is a final destination at the end of the road we’re on. Your GPS only works when you first identify the place you want to end up, after all.
“If we persevere, then somewhere in eternity our refinement will be finished and complete—which is the New Testament meaning of perfection.”
-Jeffrey R. Holland
But the path to perfection doesn’t end at 78.8 years, or whatever life expectancy is these days. The plan of perfection includes a period of time between when we pass and when the Second Coming occurs. How many years is that? Only God knows! But the Spirit World offers us some extended playtime to work on our game.
We also have overtime play of 1,000 Millennial years to score a few more goals in the game of our personal development.
But wait, that’s not all, as marketers remind us. Turns out that perfection is not even required for the Celestial Kingdom (or it would be a very lonely place indeed), which means we have the whole of eternity to buff out our countless flaws and fix all our broken parts.
And yet so many of us are harshly judgmental of ourselves for not being at the very beginning of the game what we hope to one day be by the very end of it.
What About Jesus?
“We need not be dismayed if our earnest efforts toward perfection now seem so arduous and endless. Perfection is pending. It can come in full only after the Resurrection and only through the Lord.”
-Russell M. Nelson
By the way, think about what we may be unintentionally implying when we condemn ourselves for falling short of perfection in the first place.
What that seems to mean is that we expect ourselves to be at a place where we don’t need Christ anymore, where He’s become superfluous, unnecessary and redundant, where the atonement need not apply because, well, we’ve finally got it all worked out on our own.
That’s probably not the intended message, but if you think about it, that’s kind of what it suggests.
Broken, Flawed, Imperfect
“I would hope we could pursue personal improvement in a way that doesn’t include getting ulcers or anorexia, feeling depressed or demolishing our self-esteem.”
-Jeffrey R. Holland
So please don’t get down on yourself because you’re not now where you will one day eventually be some thousands or millions of years from now! There’s a reason for all that extended play time.
Accept yourself as you are—broken, flawed, imperfect—even as you work on your discipleship. Set a goal and move toward it. And please try to find joy in that process.
In other words (and please forgive the mixed metaphors!), stop beating yourself up for not already being in New York when you have only been on the road a couple hours in west-coast traffic! Enjoy the view along the way.
Life is a journey, not a finish line.
So don’t hate on yourself for not running a 4-minute mile as a toddler in the gospel. We’re all still on page one of our eternal journey. We’ve really only barely started!
So let’s all give ourselves some slack since no one can really do more than they can do. “Enough” for God is a very different number than “enough” for you or me because our capacities are so immeasurably different.
And, by the way, since obviously none of us are God or Christ, maybe we can content ourselves at just being their imperfect disciples, stumbling down the road after them, offering them our hearts and letting Christ heal our wounds.
“[E]very one of us aspires to a more Christlike life than we often succeed in living. If we admit that honestly and are trying to improve, we are not hypocrites; we are human.”
-Jeffrey R. Holland
The bottom line is that God does perfect perfectly. But for you and me, perfect is just a spot on the horizon Heavenly Father wants us oriented toward.
It’s the address we enter into our spiritual GPS so most of our driving is generally headed in the right direction and so we know how to re-orient ourselves when we climb out of the ditches we will sometimes drive into.
Remember that just as my children don’t have to reach some minimal level of righteousness to qualify for my love or sufficiently repent of some prescribed number of weaknesses for me to accept them, neither does the Lord require that of you.
Free yourself of the anxiety of perfection while looking in the mirror to see what Christ-like qualities can use some attention. Accept yourself as a spiritual toddler even as you aim at becoming spiritually mature.
These are not mutually exclusive propositions. One does not cancel out the other. At least not as our own personal progress becomes a joyful endeavor, a richly meaningful adventure rather than a shame-ridden path of self-abuse.
So when the Guinness people come by once again to record yet another world record in imperfection, smile, get your imperfect self back up, brush off your imperfect spiritual knees, and try (however imperfectly) once again.
Life is not measured by the times we stumble and fall, but by the times we get back up, repent, and take the next step forward.
That, I think, is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments…
Before you go, follow the link to sign up for daily inspiration from our FB page called A Prophet’s Voice.
Free photo from Pixaby
Life is a journey that presents us with an array of positive and negative experiences along the way. Every experience holds the potential for personal growth and self-awareness. By examining each experience, our reaction to it, and how it impacts ourselves and others, we become more enlightened and emotionally intelligent people. This awareness is especially …
The post 67 Must-Read Quotes On Valuable And Significant Lessons To Learn In Life appeared first on Live Bold and Bloom.
I’ve enjoyed reading Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and thought I’d honour his recent passing by sharing what I’ve learnt about applying mindfulness for healing the inner child.
Connecting with The Energy of Mindfulness
“The energy of mindfulness is the salve that will recognize and heal the child within.” Thich Nhat Hanh
In Buddhist psychology, there are two parts to consciousness, the mind consciousness and the store consciousness. Mind consciousness is our active awareness for everyday living while store consciousness is often referred to as the “unconscious mind” where our past experiences are stored. In some situations, we go through life without engaging our mind consciousness. For example, when we drive without actively thinking, we are using our store consciousness.
What I found insightful is when Thich Naht Hanh describes consciousness as a house in which the living room is our mind consciousness and the basement is our store consciousness. We store anger, sorrow and joy as seeds in our basement. These seeds stay there until we call them into the living room of mind consciousness.
So when a seed, such as anger, comes up, it serves us to invite in mindfulness too. Mindfulness is another mental formation in the living room. In this case, mindfulness is mindfulness of anger. It helps to know that anger is not an enemy because both mental formations are part of ourselves. Mindfulness does not fight the anger but embraces it.
Our blocks of sadness, anger and sorrow stay in the basement but they want our attention. But what happens is that we would often try to block their way. We want them to stay inside the basement. In fact, we prefer other guests in our living room such as our TV or drugs, so that we can keep ourselves occupied. However, there is no way that we can avoid fear and anger for too long.
If we don’t cultivate mindfulness, things can get ugly when these seeds come up. However, if we bring in the energy of mindfulness, we can invite these seeds up and embrace them every day. Once they are embraced, they are not as strong as before and they go back to the basement. The blocks of pain become lighter when we do this on a daily basis.
“Every time we need the energy of mindfulness, we just touch the seed within our mindful breathing, mindful walking, smiling and then we have the energy ready to do the work of recognising, embracing, and later on looking deeply and transforming.” Thich Nhat Hanh
If we’ve not realised, our inner child is lying in our basement too. She is holding on to fear and anger, causing us to feel sick and unwell. Instead of avoidance, we need to invite her and the energy of mindfulness into the living room. However, before doing so, we need to ensure that we are ready. Otherwise, it will be disastrous. We are ready when the lamp of mindfulness is lit and its light is steady and strong.
“The energy of mindfulness enables us to look deeply and gain the insight we need so that transformation is possible.” Thich Nhat Hanh
The Path to Reconciliation with Mindfulness
To get ready is to cultivate a practice of mindfulness.
Thich Nhat Hanh prompts us to look at how interconnected we all are. No one can be by himself or herself alone. Unfortunately, when we see ourselves as separate from others, we build resentment and anger. For transcendence, we have to inter-be—in connection with everyone and everything else.
Thich Naht Hanh defines reconciliation as follows…
“Reconciliation means leaving behind our dualistic view and our tendency to want to punish the other person. Reconciliation opposes all forms of ambition, but reconciliation doesn’t take sides. Most of us want to take sides in a conflict. We distinguish right from wrong based on partial evidence or hearsay. We think we need indignation in order to act. But even legitimate, righteous indignation isn’t enough. Our world doesn’t lack people who are willing to throw themselves into action! What we need are people who are capable of loving and not taking sides so that they can embrace the whole of reality.”
One way to practice mindfulness is to do it through our breath. Mindful breathing helps us to cultivate a sense of connectedness and find reconciliation. With each breath, we start by reminding ourselves that we are alive. We also practice being in touch with our bodies.
As we look at ourselves deeply, we are reminded that all past and future generations are in us. We breathe in a way that all generations of ancestors and descendants are breathing with us. Not forgetting, there is a child in us who is breathing together at the same time.
Reconciliation with Our Inner Child
Thich Nhat Hanh outlines how we can connect with our inner child through meditation.
Say, you are seeing your 5-year old. As you breathe in, say the following…
“Breathing in, I see myself as a five year-old child.
Breathing out, I smile with compassion to the five year-old child in me.”
You’ve already learnt that child within you is not just you. So there is your dad’s and mum’s 5-year old in you too. You can go on to say…
“Breathing in, I see my father as a five year-old child.
Breathing out, I smile to my father as a five year-old child.”
You do the same for your mother too.
If we experience old wounding, he advises us to speak to the child within and say,
“Darling, I am here for you. I will take good care of you. I know that you suffer so much. I have been so busy. I have neglected you, and now I have learned a way to come back to you.”
In terms of reaching out, Thich Nhat Hanh offers four ways on how we can connect with our inner child: talk, walk, write, and invite.
- We get into a conversation with our inner child. This is done by talking to her out aloud.
- We practice walking meditation with the child within. With each step, we walk with our five-year old for instance.
- We listen and write down what our inner child has to say. We may even choose to write a letter to our inner five-year-old.
- We invite our inner child into the present moment, so that she can experience the here and now where it is safe.
Thich Naht Hanh encourages us to speak to our inner child several times a day. It’s how we can get to know what her old fears are by listening. Through having a conversation, we are able to make peace with the traumas of our past. Just as we know that a lotus cannot grow without mud, we learn to embrace pain and suffering. We are able to tell our five-year old that things have changed in the present.
Reconciliation is possible when we do it with understanding, compassion and love. Mindfulness helps us not to run away but to hold our pain, sorrow and fear. Applying mindfulness, we are to realise that we are safe now and we have the capacity to enjoy the wonders of life in the present moment.
The Powerful Message of Reconciliation
All in, Thich Nhat Hanh encourages us to find the reconciliation from within. Once we are able to do so, we are better able to reconcile with others. Mindfulness is the path towards reconciliation.
With the insight of inter-being, we know that just as a kernel of corn is in a corn stalk, our mother is alive in us. Hence, when we reconcile with our inner child, we are also healing our ancestors. If we are already parents, he suggests that it is not too late to do healing even if we may have passed down past wounds to our kids. In fact, it would be imperative that we heal the little child in us and to also help our son and daughter heal the wounded part that we have transmitted to them.
We are a continuum of the stream in life. By becoming aware of who we are and where we come from, we are able to send love to the parts of our bodies that hurt, to the people around us and also, to the wounded child inside of us. Fortunately, we are capable of healing ourselves and transform all pain and suffering into love.
Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a wonderful guide to embracing our inner child and on how we can find reconciliation with our parents and ancestors. If we are to transmute pain and suffering at its root, lighting the lamp of mindfulness and inviting our inner child safely into our living rooms is the way to go.
To your wellness,
Self-Love Healing Specialist
Apply for a Discovery Call to Find Out More About Inner Child Healing
The post Mindfulness Teachings from Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child appeared first on Abundance Coach for Women in Business | Evelyn Lim.
“A Goal Without a Plan is Only a Dream.” ~ Brian Tracy A few days ago, I was at my dining room table, doing what I do every year in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Day – writing down goals I want to accomplish in the coming year. When I got to number…
The post A Goal Without a Plan is Only a Dream (Harsh but True!) first appeared on Self Help Daily.
The 3Ps of Shame can be found in People-pleasing, Perfectionism and Procrastination.
People-pleasing – refers to seeking approval from others and pleasing others in their needs and wants and often at the sacrifice of our own.
Perfectionism – the need to be perfect in the way we are, do or have and the refusal to accept flaws, imperfection or mistakes.
Procrastination – refers to the continual delay and postponing of things so that we keep ourselves from doing what matters.Many of us show up with one or more of the 3Ps. What drives people-pleasing, perfectionism or procrastination could be the belief of “not good enough”. We create shame stories about ourselves. Our stories are about our failures, inadequacies, faults, mistakes and imperfections and we try to cover them up with people-pleasing, perfectionism or procrastination.
Refer to the infographic below on how we could be shaming ourselves on the inside…
No one like to openly talk about their shame. Nor may we be entirely aware of them unless we are willing to sit quietly with ourselves and be brutally honest. Shame is often shrouded in secrecy. It requires us to be vulnerable when we share from a heart-space and no one likes the idea of being perceived as weak. Yet, if we are to leave shame unaddressed, we are only passing it on to the people around us and our children too. We manifest it through shaming not just ourselves, but others too.
Thankfully these can be addressed.
How You can Let Go of Shame
With mindfulness, we become aware whenever…
- [People-pleasing] we put our needs second or last and we get into our burnout.
- [Perfectionism] we become self-critical when things do not live up to expectations.
- [Procrastination] we are in resistance to doing what truly matters.
Inner work with letting go of the 3Ps of shame can help a lot! Sharing it with a trusted friend or working with a practitioner helps too. It’s when we give ourselves the permission to be vulnerable and to reveal how we have been shaming ourselves. The opportunity to process our feelings and the roots of shame arise.
Brene Brown, researcher on shame and best-selling author, shares that shame is “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
Shame is to be distinguished from guilt. Shame is “I am a mistake” rather than “I made a mistake.” To let go of shame, we need to be vulnerable and own our stories.
When we feel shame, our energy is in contraction. Shame has the lowest vibration, according to the Map of Consciousness by David Hawkins. Compared to Enlightenment of 700+, shame is only vibrating 20. Releasing shame helps us to shift into a more expansive energy and the only way is up, since shame is already at the lowest.
If Your 3Ps of Shame Are Deep Rooted
If we are experiencing deep shame, it is imperative that we let it go using a somatic approach like EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). Shame is often embodied in the body. It can manifest in conditions such as eating disorders, mental illness and so on. It’s why a body-based approach for healing is most helpful.
Shame often arises from something that we’ve learned in the past especially in childhood. Releasing deep shame will involve courageously facing up to our fears of “not good enough”. We may need to reconnect with our wounded inner child in order to help her release shame.
Letting go of the 3Ps of Shame leads to Greater Self-worth! Alchemy happens when we make the shift from shame into our authentic selves. We are no longer held back by the need for people-pleasing, perfectionism and procrastination. Instead, we show up courageously, ever-present and embodying enoughness.
Love and Abundance Always,
Self-Love Healing Specialist
Apply for a Discovery Call to find out more about working together.
The post The 3Ps of Shame and How You Can Let Them Go appeared first on Abundance Coach for Women in Business | Evelyn Lim.
“We will never make a journey of a thousand miles by fretting about how long it will take or how hard it will be. We make the journey by taking each day step by step and then repeating it again and again until we reach our destination.” -Joseph B. Wirthlin
Life passes one day at a time. The sun rises by the hour. An hour passes by the minute. Minutes fly by in seconds. Walls are built by the brick and distances are travelled by the mile and miles by the step.
Life, in fact, is all about taking next steps.
Progress and improvement, goals, repentance and our very discipleship are about the nature and direction of those steps. We talk about the covenant path. Christ reminds us that He is the Way. He invites us to come, follow Him. We enter in at the gate and travel the straight and narrow on our metaphorical Road to Damascus.
All such phrases imply steps, incremental progress, a gradual process of growth and improvement. Where you or I find ourselves along the covenant path matters much less than whether we are striving to take the next step from wherever we happen to be at the moment.
The Widow’s Mite
In the lesson of the widow’s mite, Jesus taught that the poor widow offering her two mites (worth only a few cents) put more into the treasury than the much larger donations from the rich who added only from their surplus wealth.
In other words, the absolute amount seems to matter less than the degree. What the poor widow gave was more than the rich by comparison to what each had to give.
Similarly, your stride along the covenant path may be the equivalent to the widow’s mite in length, but may likewise be a treasury of gold to the Lord who looks on the heart and knows the reality of our lives, the limits of our abilities and the histories and circumstances no one else but He and you know about.
So if you find yourself on a spiritual plateau, flat-lined, empty and stuck, my call to you today is not to revolutionize your life. It’s not to start all over again or leap forward in a giant Saul-like change, doing everything that can be done. It’s to simply choose a single area of your life that needs improvement (every one of us has many such areas), and just take one step in that direction.
What Doesn’t Really Matter…
It doesn’t matter how many different steps could be taken. It doesn’t matter how far behind you are from where you think you should have already been or where you perceive others are. All that really matters is that you identify the needed step and that you take it, no matter how small that step needs to be to get yourself moving. Baby steps are still steps forward, after all!
Ultimately, it doesn’t even matter how many times you’ve tripped and fallen, wandered off course, rejected the path itself, pretended it wasn’t there, disbelieved in its reality or intentionally ran straight into the mists of darkness in a rebellious spit in the eye.
None of that matters in the end. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow hasn’t come. Today awaits. The only thing that matters is that you are here today, looking down the road, figuring out where to place your next step, wanting to follow Christ.
Our incremental improvement isn’t about becoming acceptable to the Lord (He already accepts you) or qualifying for blessings (you can’t anyway) or averting celestial punishment. It’s about loving Christ and Heavenly Father and wanting to show that love by taking steps toward them.
Just Take the Step
So from wherever you are today, take a step. Just one. Even if just nudging your little toe forward along the covenant path is all you can muster for now in your discipleship. Even if no one else can see your improvement or growth, your repentance, the lessons learned or your spiritual stretch, the very act of leaning in the right direction is a success nonetheless.
Perhaps it is finally confessing a secret sin, or apologizing for an offense, enrolling in an anger management course, forgiving a grudge you’ve held onto, praying if you normally don’t, or reading scripture if you haven’t for a while. Whatever your next step is, now is the time to take it.
So don’t worry where you’ve been, how long you’ve been there, how far off-road you’ve gone or how hard it is to be consistently moving in the right direction all the time. Just take the step.
Then, when you trip, stumble and fall, move back three spaces or face plant on the sidewalk of your life, just know that it’s all fairly irrelevant to the greater concern knowing that if you fall back three spaces this week, but get up and step forward 4, that’s still progress worthy of celebration.
The Prominent Sound in Heaven
Remember the parable of the prodigal son. What did his father do when his wayward son came back after riotously losing all his inheritance in his prodigal life of sin? He threw his arms around his neck and then threw him a party. He celebrated his return, his new direction and the steps he took to come back.
Note what is glaringly not part of that parable. The father did not question him about motives or sincerity, about how much he squandered or the degrees of sin he committed or levels of true repentance he displayed over what duration of time. He just loved and celebrated his son.
That, I’m convinced, is what our Heavenly Father does too. I believe the prominent sounds in Heaven are not tearful groans for the sins of the world; they are shouts of joy for every time someone takes a better step today than yesterday.
No Straight Lines
The truth is that life is not a straight line from birth through all the covenantal markers along the straight and narrow path to exaltation and eternal life for anyone.
No, life looks a lot more like a stock market line graph with zigs and zags, peaks and toughs, surges and crashes, ups and downs. But if you look at any 10-30 year period of time, the general direction, the trend-line, the trajectory is up, even though interrupted by periods of recession and depression.
The stock market is not the only place of volatility. Life and our progress through it has its fair share as well. That’s why Heavenly Father sent us His Son to lend His stability to our volatility, His immortality to our mortality and His perfection to our imperfection.
Next Time you Fall
So look down the road of your life and ask yourself these questions: Am I on the right path? Am I moving forward? Am I learning? Am I growing? What, then, is my next best step? How can I best take that step?
Once the answers to those questions have been identified, shift your weight forward to your lead leg and lean into your personal growth, not as an expression of shame driven by self-contempt, but as an expression of gratitude and love for God, Christ, their gospel and yourself.
And just remember that your Heavenly Father is there to guide you and your Savior Jesus Christ is there to pick you back up the next time you misstep and stumble along the way.
Photo from Pixaby
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, that’s also true of body language. Some people don’t have the confidence to convey their feelings with words and instead use their bodies to “speak.” They might use facial expressions, body position, or wordless sounds like laughing or snorting to let you know how they …
The post Is She Attracted To You? Know These 21 Female Body Language Signs Of Attraction appeared first on Live Bold and Bloom.
“Love is the greatest of all the commandments—all others hang upon it. It is our focus as followers of the living Christ. It is the one trait that, if developed, will most improve our lives.” —Joseph B. Wirthlin
Nephi said the righteous love truth. Alma calls us to remember the song of redeeming love. Mosiah asks us to become as a child, patient and full of love. Mormon warns us of loving money more than the poor. Moroni tells us that the Comforter fills us with perfect love and that love never fails and casts out all fear.
Joseph Smith reminds us that love qualifies us for God’s work, that sanctification comes to those who love and serve God, to be not partial in love, that the priesthood is maintained by love, to show an increase of love after a rebuke and that blessings await those who love the Lord. He warns us not to let love wax cold.
Mark tells us that God is love. Christ said that loving God is the greatest commandment. He instructs us to love our enemies, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love Him by keeping His commandments and reminds us that God’s love of the world is why He sent His only begotten Son to it in the first place.
In fact, there are over 200 references of love in the Bible—more than 500 depending on the translation you use.
Love Fills our Emptiness
So what’s all the fuss about love? Well, here’s some random thoughts on the most written and sung about topic by poets and songwriters around the world from any generation:
Love fills our empty places. It motivates change and growth. It softens the impact of childhood trauma and helps steady long-held insecurities. It fixes and repairs and overcomes. It even keeps infant’s hearts beating. It sets the stage for our development and determines the difficulty or ease by which we trust and forgive others.
Love conquers, redeems, reforms, uplifts and inspires. When ours is lacking, we stumble more and fall harder. Its lack hurts marriages and damages children and breaks up friendships. Its failure is the author of hate and the womb that gives birth to enemies.
What Love Is and Isn’t
Love deepens the foundations of our psychology, the connections in our sociology and the kindness in our philosophy. Love sees beyond exteriors. It notices the lonely and the friendless. It exercises courage to stick up for the defenseless and reaches out to those who need more than they currently have. Love beautifies and expands. It reaches outward and invites inward.
It is slow to judge and quick to forgive. It is not selfish or proud or unkind. It does not covet or hate or steal or lie or turn a cold shoulder. Love, despite claims insisting otherwise, does not hurt. It’s the real or perceived loss of love that feels so bad. Jealousy is its enemy, not its proof. It doesn’t demand, it gives. Our immaturity, weaknesses, misunderstanding, insecurities and emotional histories can make it difficult to spot even when it is standing right in front of us. In that blindness, we can inadvertently pour cold water on its still-burning embers.
Love Begets Love
So, how do we develop more of it then? First, we recognize that love doesn’t come easily. It’s not a cheap trinket we pick up at the swap meet for pocket change. It requires something of us, even demands it. We can chase it away by trying to pin it down. We can diminish it by stomping on those we want it from. But we must pay the price of love if we want its benefits.
That price includes letting go of fear and grudges, forgiving and repenting, extending ourselves and seeking opportunities to develop more of it. We must push against the outer edge of comfort zones and come to the realization that the best way to get more of it is to give more of it away. Love, in fact, begets more love.
The most certain path to it is by following Christ and doing as He does. We serve and bless and minister to others. And so we work at it, fail at it, repent and work some more on it. We pray for it and pay the price for it. We study it in scripture and Conference talks.
Practice, Practice, Practice
But most of all, we practice love. Over, and over, and over and over and over again. When we get it wrong, we apologize, make amends the best we can, and try again. We learn from our mistakes and chip away at our hardened exteriors, breaking down walls and healing trauma. Authenticity and vulnerability inspire it, so courage is a necessary precondition for it.
When we open our hearts to Christ and give Him the burden of our pain and let Him lift our sins from us, we make room for more love in its purest form. That allows patience with ourselves and for others going through that process, acknowledging that we all improve gradually, by degree, one step at a time, not in a straight line, but by falling back, then stepping forward, only to fall and step forward again.
We fuel our love by looking for the best in others and ourselves. We spend time in uplifting and inspiring endeavors. We go to the temple as often as we can to serve those on the other side of the veil and to feel God’s love for us in that sacred environment as we absorb it’s light and beauty.
We invite others sitting alone to sit with us at church or in class. Or we go sit next to them. We look for opportunities to be kind and thoughtful, considerate and encouraging. The needs and wellbeing of others fills our hearts and prayers.
We recognize unity in diversity, oneness in difference and togetherness in acceptance. We recognize the importance and urgency of gathering all to Christ, no matter the background or current set of circumstances. We see the person beneath the hurt and the softness beyond the rough walls they erect to shield their pain. We celebrate and encourage all those scattered along the covenant path, no matter where they are in relation to where we are or wish they were. We joyfully welcome those returning and keep loving those who never do.
Love is Not a Tool
Love is not a means to an end. It is not a tool to manipulate a desired outcome from its target. It is an end in itself, perhaps the end. It undergirds God’s work and glory. It permeates Christ’s atoning sacrifice. His mission and His glorious redemptive work is infused and encompassed by it. His grace is extended by, through, and because of it.
It is at the heart of the Plan of Salvation and the reason for our creation. It is the great motivating force for all that is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report.”
Where Love Blooms
If you remove love from the world, we are left in a cold, barren, dark and lonely place. But a world (or a ward or family) where love reigns, life comes alive.
It opens and blooms, endowed with purpose and meaning, where weaknesses and mistakes are accepted as part of life and part of the learning and growing process, where differences are embraced, where enough room is given to falter, and encouragement is extended to try again, where intentions are honored even when execution falls short.
Love certainly doesn’t remove life’s challenges or prevent imperfect fails in its expression, but it does make them a whole lot easier to endure. Love is the glow of kindness, the warmth of acceptance and the encouraging nudge toward next steps.
There is not a single style of love, but there is one necessary expression of it. Remember that Jesus asked Peter three times whether he loved Him. Each time Christ answered Peter’s protestations of love with the injunction to “Go feed my sheep.”
Love, it turns out, is not merely a feeling of the heart. If love stays expressionless, bottled inside, we cripple it and undermine its potential impact on our own and others’ lives. Love was never meant to be hoarded or tucked away in the corner of our lives. Love that’s kept locked in the heart is a neutered, muted, impotent and empty kind of love, a shell of what it could be. Feeding His sheep is at the foundation of its true expression.
For love to reach the impressive heights of its full potential, it must be loosed from the prison of the heart and directed into our feet and hands and mouths. Feelings of love have to translate into words and actions and expressions of love. Love is not so small that it can be reduced to a mere emotion. It is a character trait as well. It’s not simply what we feel. It is fine-tuned in the act of service, nurtured in thoughtful expressions, deepened in warm embraces and sanctified in selfless prayers.
Love His Sheep
So reach out to those around you. Feed His sheep. The visitor. The old timer. The child. The returning member. Everyone!
Accept them. Resist the very human temptation to judge others. See them. Deeply. Charitably. Look beyond the exterior and see them as their Heavenly Father sees them, as His dear beloved children. Nothing more and nothing less.
Then say hello. Get to know them. Love and embrace them in all their glorious imperfection. Invite them. Pray for them. Smile at them. Befriend them. And then watch what happens to our already-loving ward family as love increasingly becomes an even more natural expression of who we are, disciples of Christ in search of His sheep to feed.
What does love mean to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Photo by Pixaby
“There is no obstacle too great, no challenge too difficult, that we cannot meet with faith.” -Gordon B. Hinckley
Faith is not only the substance of things hoped for which are true, and not only a principle of action, but faith is also the engine behind a righteous life and the foundation on which the gospel of Jesus Christ is made the center of our individual lives.
It undergirds repentance and motivates progress and inspires needed change. It is the wall on which the paint of testimony is applied and the nails that hold the structure of our activity together.
Faith is hope for the future, confidence in covenants and promises made, power in the priesthood, fruit of the Atonement, and the step in our discipleship. It is why we open scripture and bend knee and serve and bless and persevere.
It’s the door to baptism, the hand on the iron rod, the gas that propels us to temples and activities, on missions and the magnification of our callings and ministry. It is the cause behind the purpose and meaning of our lives and the belief in our goals and in our God.
Turn to the Source
It sturdies our walk and amplifies our commitment, lights our way and turns us to Christ, the source and substance of our faith.
Faith points us down proper paths and opens us to innumerable blessings. It restores us and improves us and saves us. It is the substance of grace and the context of salvation. It deepens love and encourages kindness and connects us to its object.
Ebb and Flow
Faith is not something you have or have not. It exists on a scale, a range, a continuum. We experience it in degrees. It can ebb and flow, in part depending on the attention we give its ingredients. As we water it, it grows. As we neglect it, it eventually recedes.
If yours is weak, strengthen it. If it is tired or soft and empty, awaken, embolden and fill it. Make it impervious to Babylonian temptation and Rameumptom-like rigidity and the mockery of half-truths and full lies and the drooling foolishness of faithless legions trapped in tall spacious buildings of self-congratulating pride.
The word of God is its handrail. The Spirit is its source. Prayer is the ladder that reaches it. Love is the fuel that propels it. Acceptance of the messiness of life is the undergirding context that allows it.
Now is the Time
Now is the time to commit to exercising more of it. Now is the time to secure it on eternal principles. Now is the time to question our questions and doubt our doubts and firm up our faith and step forward as a disciple of our Lord, dedicated to feasting on His word, saturating our lives with prayer, taking upon us His name, and serving as He serves, thereby refurbishing and polishing the faith that propels us forward.
This is what faith is to me. It is a life-long quest with rich rewards along the way. It is worth the journey and the effort. I invite you to begin or to continue yours.
What does faith mean to you? Please share in the comments below.
Photo by Pixaby
If you’re explore doing studies at home, here are some helpful time management tips for your online program. As recently as a few year back, few people knew about online education – and even fewer were using it. Everyone starting […]