Sunday, July 17, 2011

New Calling, New Lessons

Well, not that anyone has noticed but I have been quite absent.... This posting thing really went down the drain fast. 

I finally got to cross off "Go on a road trip" from my life goal list this month so that was nice. I spent one glorious saturday in Moab with some of my favorite girls. We left at 4:30 in the morning and started hiking around 8:30 or 9. We got to see Delicate Arch, SandDune Arch, Broken Arch and Balanced Rock. We were too tired to do the Windows but we drove by and saw them for a few minutes before lunch. By the time we had our picnic we were *exhausted*, after an hour nap we were ready to go look at the little shops and head home. 


It was fun spending time with the girls. We stopped at a gas station on the way home and had a blast eating dinner, telling jokes and spewing drinks out of our noses. If only we could make this a yearly trip... Maybe we will :) 

A few weeks before going to Moab I was informed I would be receiving a new calling. At first I was a little nervous just because I had no idea where they were going to call me but Sister R (from the Young Women's) kind of let it slide that they were the ones that put in my name to be considered for the calling. Sure enough, the next Sunday I had an interview with the bishop and I got called as a Mia Maid teacher. Working with the youth of the church has been a dream of mine since I started in the Young Women organization. I was blessed with the most amazing teachers throughout those critical years, it is because of them that I teach and care the way I do. I can only pray to make the difference they did in my life.

My first lesson was lesson 27: Forgiving Ourselves. I had heard many people talk about how lessons usually hit the teacher most but I had never experienced it. This lesson however, taught me how important it is to not only forgive others but ourselves as well. I think it is something that we struggle with the most. I had a couple demonstrations to help get the idea across to the girls, but it was the quotes and scriptures provided that opened up my eyes. Now, if you don't mind I would like to use a couple of quotes and parts of the lesson that hit me the hardest. 

One of the discussion questions read: 
Why would Satan have us believe that we have sinned beyond hope of forgiveness?
The manual gives the answer of:
Then we will not repent, and we will sin more and more.

Simple, yet very true. Satan has HUGE power over us, BUT only if we allow him to. He likes to creep into our thoughts to influence our actions. Once we believe that our sin is too severe to be forgiven we forget about the power of the repentance process. We forget that we all get second and third chances. The Lord will not leave us alone, so long as we are willing to change, of course. 

President Spencer W. Kimball explained this a little more when he said: "Sometimes a guilty consciousness overpowers a person with such a heaviness that when a repentant one looks back and sees the ugliness, the loathsomeness of the transgression, he is almost overwhelmed and wonders, 'Can the Lord ever forgive me? Can I ever forgive myself?' But when one reaches the depths of despondency and feels the hopelessness of his position, and when he cries out to God for mercy in helplessness but in faith, there comes a still, small, but penetrating voice whispering to his soul, 'Thy sins are forgiven thee'." -The Miracle of Forgiveness

(Side note: I dont know if any of you have read The Miracle of Forgiveness, but I definitely recommend it.)

How glorious it is to know that we will be forgiven. How scary it is to know that it depends on if we have  a pure desire to do so...

President Harold B. Lee Taught:

"If the time comes when you have done all that you can to repent of your sins, whoever you are, wherever you are,.... then you will want that confirming answer as to whether or not the Lord has accepted of you. In your soul-searching, if you seek for and you find that peace of conscience, by that token you may know that the Lord has accepted your repentance. Satan would have you think otherwise and sometimes persuade you that now having made on mistake, you might go on and on with no turning back. That is one of the great falsehoods. The miracle of forgiveness is available to all of those who turn from their evil doings and return no more" (Harold B. Lee, in Conference Report, Apr. 1973)

"...available to all of those who turn from their evil doings and return no more." I found this to be the key. True repentance means we turn away COMPLETELY. Not partially, not for a week or so... but "return no more". This has proven to be the hardest part for me. 

The manual provides a story told by Elder Sterling W. Sill that shows us just how important it is to forgive ourselves.

"Sometime ago I talked with a woman 53 years of age who had committed a moral transgression at the age of 18. She understood that her sin was very serious, but because she had repented a thousand times we can depend on the Lord's promise that he had forgiven her. But she had never forgiven herself. Because she felt unclean and inferior, she withdrew from her friends, refused to marry, and became a kind of social and spiritual recluse. For 35 years she downgraded herself with bitter regrets and accusations. her life of looking back upon her sin has turned into something far below the wonderful person that God intended her to be. Her sin at age 18 was very serious. But for 35 years she has been adding to her sin by wasting the most valuable thing in the world, which is a splendid human life"

Why is it so hard to forgive ourselves? Why is it that we focus so much on the things we do wrong instead of the things we do right? Much like this woman, we hold on to things for years and years. We have a promise that if we repent we will be forgiven and our sins will be forgotten. Let us remember this promise and start living a righteous life today. 

This is what I whole heartedly believe. I know I am not perfect, I make mistakes just like everyone else does- and probably ten times worse- but I refuse to give up. My testimony has grown because of my experiences. I cannot regret, I simply learn, repent and move on. I pray we can all do the same. 

Well, now that I am off my soap box, I don't think very many of you made it through this whole thing... I still have one more lesson to catch up on but that will have to wait for another day... Maybe tomorrow. 

(A final [random] side note: The Winnie the Pooh movie was very very cute... that is all. Goodnight) 

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