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We tracted into a home filled with Catholic nuns and they invited us to their youth event. I must look like I’m 17. #stillgotit?
My favorite part of this week however, was meeting Christopher.
A member in our ward asked us to visit this boy named Christopher and his mom. She told us beforehand that we would have an amazing and spiritual experience being in his presence. I thought that was quite interesting and wondered how so?
I learned that Christopher is eight years old and he has cerebral palsy. He doesn't have much control over his body which results in many physical limitations. He was adopted from another country by this lovely woman and her husband but soon after his adoption, her husband passed away. So it's just Christopher and his mom.
As we walked towards their home I didn't know what to expect.
We knocked on their door and his mom answered the door and said quietly, “Christopher is so excited to see you two sisters, he has been waiting all day.” We walked in the door and sat across from him at the kitchen table. He was in a wheelchair. His physical limitations were evident. But what was even more evident is the feeling he brought into the room. When he saw us his smile was ear to ear and he announced with excitement "I was waiting and waiting for you." Then he said "I was so excited for you to come see me, I couldn't even sleep!"
I was surprised at such a reaction, never have I gotten that as a missionary. Or even as a person back at home. He didn't even know me!
We sat down at the table and began talking with him. From the minute I looked into his eyes I was completely blown away with the life he presented. His physical limitations did NOT define him.
The very first thing I learned about Christopher is that he is the happiest person I have ever met in my entire life.
I was completely humbled as we sat there that day playing Uno with him. He couldn't hold the cards up by himself so he asked for help. But he still enjoyed it. He was still happy, despite his difficulty. And he still won every game. He couldn't get out of his wheel chair and run to grab us water, but he still offered. He was such a sweet spirit. And was so happy to be alive. Amidst the trials or setbacks their family had encountered... He loved us, he loved himself and he loved life.
I only wish to be half the kind of person Christopher is!
I think when Christ asked us to become even as a child this is precisely what he was referring to. I feel like such an ignorant person. So ungrateful compared to Christopher. I only wish to one day be able to be that happy and humble and full of love and genuine care for others. No matter the circumstance. No matter my limitations, trials or setbacks.
I thought back on all the complaints, and dissatisfaction I've claimed to have had in my life. All the things I thought were important. All the ignorant people I hung around. All the obnoxious things I've said and done. All the people I may have offended, or that have offended me. I thought of a lot of things that have been a complete and utter waste of time. I sat there staring at someone who brought a whole new perspective of a higher plane of living into my eyes.
Why can't we all be this happy? Humble? Loving? Forgiving?
Today we are all so easily angered, frustrated, bitter and point fingers and blame. We are prideful and vain and greedy and mean. We always seem to find flaws and faults in others. We seek offense and reasons to be upset.
What reason do we have to be upset or offended about?
When there are others in the world struggling just as much or more than we are. AND yet They are so full of love!
I was reminded countless times this week of the need to love. To forgive, to move on and to find joy. Specifically I was reminded of each of our biggest setbacks and sometimes our most difficult task.
…the need to forgive.
I think the first time I ever had to learn to forgive somebody is when my brother Dylan was born. He was my first brother, first sibling, and first best friend. We tormented each other day and night from the first day he was born. Granted, by forgiving him… I mean my mom would make us give each other a hug and say we were sorry after we tackled each other on the living room floor for half an hour. I think we both got better at it as four more wonderful humans were born into the family.
(Good at tackling, that is. ;)
Throughout my life forgiving people has seemed to be very repetitive. Whether it is my brothers, my friends, or my not so much friends. I mean let's be honest high school? College? Work? Relationships? Life? It doesn't always go exactly how you want it. And sometimes people hurt you, or offend you or get on your nerves.
Sometimes you simply have to be the bigger person. Let things go. It happens all too often… I think. People are not perfect. We are all different. We are not all bound to get along and agree with each other. However there has been one distinct moment in my life where I remember forgiving and forgetting did not come easy. Because it wasn't a little thing I could just let go. It was a big deal… to me. It involved someone I really loved.
And I think that's the hardest part. I heard a saying once about how you can't hate someone without truly loving them first. Because let's face it if you weren't truly interested in this person you would let it go. But if you love them or admire them or have a strong tie to them and they hurt you...It hurts.
And it's not easy to forgive them.
I've felt that.
Looking back now on that experience, that hurt or offense or pain. I can see the bigger picture. Yes, this person hurt me. I felt I had a reason to be upset. And so I was! I was rude. I was ignorant. I was mean. and frankly I was miserable.
Until… I learned to look outside of myself.
I put myself in that persons shoes and saw their side of the story. In which I realized they were not the only one at fault in this situation. Rather I had a part to play in this game of offense. Who was most at fault? Well that's for The Lord to judge.
You see as I saw the whole play of things I wasn't exactly clear of offense either. Neither of us were guiltless. None of us ever are. Think about it. Does every action you do please people? Are you free from offense? Does everybody agree and applaud at what you say? Have you lived a life free from negative or derogatory comments? Does your social media promote happiness, joy, and positivity? Do you go out of your way every moment of your life to serve those around you and lift others up? Have you 100% refrained from speaking ill of another? Do you avoid all gossip? Have you ever told a lie?
I can bet that nobody reading this is perfect in each and every one of those categories. The only perfect person who has never needed forgiveness from each of these is our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The first step to forgiving others is to first look inside and understand that we ourselves are not free of fault. We ourselves are imperfect. And we ourselves need forgiveness. Don't point fingers. Don't find offense. Don't find someone to blame.
"It was our beloved Savior’s final night in mortality, the evening before He would offer Himself a ransom for all mankind. As He broke bread with His disciples, He said something that must have filled their hearts with great alarm and deep sadness. “One of you shall betray me,” He told them.
The disciples didn’t question the truth of what He said. Nor did they look around, point to someone else, and ask, “Is it him?”
Instead, “they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them
to say unto him, Lord, is it I?”
I wonder what each of us would do if we were asked that question by the Savior. Would we look at those around us and say in our hearts, “He’s probably talking about Brother Johnson. I’ve always wondered about him,” or “I’m glad Brother Brown is here. He really needs to hear this message”? Or would we, like those disciples of old, look inward and ask that penetrating question: “Is it I?”
In these simple words, “Lord, is it I?” lies the beginning of wisdom and the pathway to lasting change."
We seem to have this innate ability to see other peoples ills incredibly well. While forgetting or being unable to see our own.
Why is it that we so easily see others shortcomings and not our own? Or maybe it's because we are well aware of our shortcomings that we reason to point out the weaknesses in others? Why do we first point fingers and find somebody to blame? How does it make you feel when you've been the one whose been pointed at and blamed on?
We ALL have shortcomings.
None of us are perfect.
We are all in desperate need of help.
So why do we make it harder on others to receive forgiveness and understanding when we are in the same boat they are in?
Our individual circumstances may differ but each one of us is fighting our own independent battle, seeking for strength and guidance and truth and light. Welcoming warmth and redemption and salvation. We are each striving to find that eternal joy.
“Are we not all beggars? Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case? Little wonder that King Benjamin says we obtain a remission of our sins by pleading to God, who compassionately responds, but we retain a remission of our sins by compassionately responding to the 'poor' who plead to us."
How do we expect to receive forgiveness, mercy, help or remission for sins... from Christ, or anyone else, if we are not willing to do the same thing for those who have wronged us?
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
It is little wonder, after the Savior of the world suffered every pain, heartache, and devastation in the garden and on the cross, some of his last words were…
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"
"It is finished."
Our Savior again set forth an example of what manner of men (or women) we ought to be. One of forgiveness, humility, charity and love. Because after all, Jesus Christ suffered what everyone of us have suffered put together.
I think it is safe to say that at some point in your life you may have been upset with another because they offended you. They lied to you. They may have flat out humiliated you! Maybe that someone gossiped about you, looked down on you, was unsupportive, or left you alone. Called you out, put you down, lied to your face.
And you feel you have every reason in the world to grudgingly despise them for the rest of your days.
Now take all of that,
And everything else this person may have done to you,
To offend you, hurt you, or bring you down.
Whether purposefully or not.
And add the following..
And yet, while hanging on a cross full of pain and anguish, in the very moment of all this hurt Jesus Christ felt everything and said,
"Father, forgive them."
So. After that...
How can we forgive them not, that hurt us?
And even more, when you are just as much a beggar for forgiveness and
mercy as those who may have wronged you.
We can't control how people act, what they say, who they are.
But We can control our part.
We can't control if people choose to be upset, bitter, hard hearted or unforgiving.
But We can control our part.
My very wise father said to me this past week via email of course
"I truly believe that when we are full of hate, anger, resentment and hard feelings we stop progressing spiritually. I also believe that Jesus Christ forgave those who hurt him to manifest his complete love. And that's what this life really is all about. Is burning out hatred with love."
Heaven is filled with those who have been forgiven and those who forgive.
Heaven is filled with people like Christopher who love despite their
The world today seems to teach us to cut out our enemies.
To hold grudges against our foes.
To bight back at those who you disagree with.
To get revenge.
To be jealous.
To be vain.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
How about right here and now we each discover a way where we can burn
out hatred with love. After all, isn't that what this life is all about?
"We must put aside our pride, see beyond our vanity, and in humility
ask, “Lord, is it I?”
And if the Lord’s answer happens to be “Yes, there are things you must
improve, things I can help you to overcome,” I pray that we will accept this answer, humbly acknowledge our sins and shortcomings, and then change our ways by becoming better.
As we do so, our bountiful God will lead us by the hand; it starts with our asking the simple question:
Lord, is it I?”
I'm not perfect
None of us are
But I KNOW as we strive to follow our Savior
We will learn to love more fully
To rid our lives of hatred
And fill it with love.
I want to become the kind of person Christ described as he asked us to
become as a child.
I want to become the kind of person that loves and forgives and finds
joy, despite my circumstances.
Like Christopher and his wonderful attitude towards life.
I admire that so much.
I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I love my Savior
And I love this opportunity I have to make a difference,
To share this gospel,
And to change.
P.S. My companion thought I might add (after you've had this spiritual
pause, reflection, and application and are ready to move on...) this
quick note from the genius words of
T. Swift 2014
"Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate, just shake it off."©
No I have not heard this new album. Yes I found it applicable.
Swift is always applicable.
This is how I survive training. Live news feed = Sister Todd
7 more months folks.
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Sent from my iPad
(November 10, 2014)