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Monday, October 22, 2012

Living My Religion, Am I Christian?

I have this teacher.

His name is Brent Slife, and he's one of the few teachers that I have that is not LDS here at BYU.

He's a really fabulous example of living his religion, he's Christian, and he knows it.
But even better, I can tell that he believes is Jesus Christ as his Savior because of the way that he lives his life and teaches my class.

On our first day of class I wrote this down, "How do I make my life more Christian? (Daily?)"
I feel like a lot of the time I think that I'm Christian, but I neglect to thank and acknowledge my Heavenly Father in all that I do.

I went on to write in my notes, "Professor Slife mentioned a man today that goes to church  primarily to receive more business. Everyone in the class chuckled. And I did too, but then I thought of all the reasons I go to church that aren't solely based on worshiping Christ."

I go to church to see the guy I like, to talk with my friends, to hear great stories and to be uplifted. I go to church to show off a new outfit, or how I did my hair. I go to church so others will think that I am spiritual.

But are any of those reasons the right reasons?
I believe that worshiping on Sunday is very important, but I wonder what Heavenly Father would have me do? Live my religion daily? Through my thoughts, words, and actions? 
Or to merely go to church?

I guess what I'm getting at is this.

I think it's important to do the right things, but more important to do the right things for the right reasons. It's good to call myself a Christian, but it's better to live a Christ-Centered life. It's important to keep the commandments, but it's the best to follow the guidance of the Spirit. 

It's about living the religion that I believe, not just calling myself a Latter Day Saint.
I'm trying to change the way I think about being Christian so that I will be better able to use the atonement in my daily life.

A line of one of my favorite songs goes like this, "Because I am his daughter, I want my devotion to him to be what they see."

I want the way that I act to help others come to know Christ, and hopefully by continually working on characteristics that will happen.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My First Kiss Went A Little Like This

Every little girl dreams of her first kiss.

(This video is pretty much the cutest)

 I always imagined my first kiss to be pretty neat.  Potentially riding along the beach on a white stallion. Maybe some wind blowing through my hair, that kind of stuff.

(A scene from Romancing the Stone, one of my favorites)

But my first kiss was nothing like that. My first kiss happened in the movie theater and I was trying to watch Pirates of the Caribbean.

Looking back now the most commical part of that experience was that I was really upset. I was trying to watch the movie, and this guy was trying to get in a little smooch.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering what in the world this has to do with a virtue that I've been working on. Well...let me tell you:

I was mad, so much in fact that I held a grudge for a while. I didn't want to forgive him for #1 ruining the movie, and #2 for making my first kiss anything but romantic.

I finally forgave him, but I decided that holding a grudge, especially over something so silly, was absolutely outrageous.

All silliness aside.

I've really been working on forgiving people. I had to ask myself, "Why is it so hard to forgive others, and also to forgive myself?"

This is what I decided:

As human beings we seek for the approval of others. When something goes wrong, when someone hurts us, when they lie, or yell or say a snide remark, we paint ourselves as the victim of their ferociousness. We want to be able to blame our hurt feelings, or insensitivity, and
our tears, on their actions. When the others around us stand on our side and back us up we find that justification of being angry, in being the victim, and in being right.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've really tried to transform the negative emotions of non-forgiveness and build on a stronger foundation. I decided to write a letter to everyone that I have blamed, that I have felt has hurt me, and to those who, whether or not it's justified, I just don't like. At the end of the letter, I wrote down all of their names, and promised that I would never say another mean thing about them, not foster any harmful thoughts in my mind. Instead, I said that I would love them with my heart, like Christ loves me.

I also made a list of things that I would remind myself of:
1) Could this be my fault?
2) Do not play the victim.
3) Forget about holding grudges.
4) Think of others as REAL people.

That last point, number 4, that one has really been making me think lately. When we see each other as people, all of those bad feelings, the unnecessary judging and hating, they go away. We not only forgive, but we have nothing to forgive, because we don't take offense. Some of you might be familiar with this idea, because it's found in my very-favorite-of-all-time book, Bonds that make us free. If you haven't read it. Do! It is fabulous, it will change your world and the way you think of others.

Finally, what are my thoughts without a quote from Elder Holland?

"However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don't have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines.

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 beckoning. "Come boldly [to] the throne of grace," and fall at the feet of the Holy One of Israel. Come and feast "without money and without price" at the table of the Lord."

Jeffrey R. Holland, The Laborers in the Vineyard

Don't you just feel the Love of God? One of my all time favorite quotes, "It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines." Whoa! Right? So great.

There is nothing that anyone can do that you cannot forgive, because He has already paid the price for it. There is NOTHING that you cannot forgive yourself of, because the light of Christ shines far beyond how low we can ever sink. I love forgiveness. I love to forgive and I love to be forgiven, it's one of the most wonderful feelings in this life.

Happy forgiving!