Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Forgiveness and Redemption

OK, I've come down from my high horse a bit today.

My purpose for publicly posting my rant was threefold:
  1. To speak out in behalf of children
  2. To hopefully startle some people into facing their reality before it's too late
  3. To stand up for what I believe in

It was not to be sanctimonious (though it probably came across that way). I debated for several weeks whether or not to post my feelings on my blog. I knew there would be fallout and that I would seriously offend some people I love. But I just kept feeling very strongly about voicing my opinion.

Today my visiting teachers came and the lesson was entitled "Uphold, Nourish, and Protect the Family". It talked about defending the family and how it is our duty to speak out for traditional family values. I especially liked this quote by Elder Ballard:

"I call upon members of the Church and on committed parents, grandparents, and extended family members everywhere to hold fast to [the family] proclamation, to make it a banner not unlike General Moroni’s ‘title of liberty,’ and to commit ourselves to live by its precepts. …In today’s world, where Satan’s aggression against the family is so prevalent, parents must do all they can to fortify and defend their families. But their efforts may not be enough. Our most basic institution of family desperately needs help and support from the extended family and the public institutions that surround us”.

I spoke out because I know there is no other place where a person can reach their full potential and embrace all of God's blessings than within the walls of their own home. And the presumably mature adults are responsible for making that happen.

Is this easy? No, especially if there's not a solid foundation to begin with. Half of marriages don't end in divorce because it's easy. Marriage is not a cake walk. It takes a tremendous amount of self-control as well as a healthy dose of courage. Our tenderest feelings and greatest insecurities are exposed to potential misunderstanding and rejection. It's hard to lay yourself out there emotionally and not get what you need. But there is danger in not communicating openly. Your spouse is not a mind reader, so you set yourself up for disappointment daily if you're not brave enough to communicate what you want or need. Disappointment can grow and grow into a harsh companion, making you weary and resentful until you become desperate and seek solace outside of your marriage.

You have to be willing to put down your defenses to have any success in your marriage. And you have to be willing to accept that you won't agree on some things. That's simply just the way it is. But just because you don't agree doesn't mean you can't respect one another. It takes a lot of discipline not to fly off at the mouth (which I suck at sometimes) and to choose your words carefully so as to not create deep rifts between you and your spouse. It is possible to assert your point without getting ugly. And if you do lose it and get ugly, you have to be humble enough to apologize before resentment starts to build. I really feel that self-control is the formula for success in all areas of life.

We make mistakes, sometimes huge, sometimes minor. But there is a way to heal from those mistakes. If we were just wandering alone in this life, it seems that it would be nearly impossible for fallible humans to be able to change and forgive. But our Father in Heaven knows us and loves us enough that He provided a way that we can experience the miracle of forgiveness. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered beyond anything we can comprehend so that He would know how to succor us in our most difficult times. Christ's Atonement not only opens the doors of redemption to each of us, but it gives us all one Person who loves us beyond measure and knows firsthand every emotion we feel, because He has felt it. There is nothing that gives God and Jesus Christ greater joy than to have each of us partake of the blessings of the Atonement. They are waiting, pleading for us to accept this gift so freely given.

I am reminded of a scripture in 3 Nephi 10:5-6 (also Matthew 23:37):

"How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen;... yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not... O how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart."

The path to forgiveness is not easy. It requires great humility. And it's universally true that people have to fix their own problems. But God has not left us to do it alone. We have One with perfect love to guide us through the difficult journey.

"What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost." (Luke 15:4-6)

Likewise, I wish to rejoice with people I love who have found their way back to righteousness and happiness. And to support them along the journey.

(The painting above is by Minerva Teichert and is one of my all-time favorite images of the Savior. I hope to have it in my home someday. Did you know that Minerva Teichert spent the majority of her life raising a family and painting in little ol' Cokeville, Wyoming? It's true! Read about it here. Cokeville is full of Teicherts, many with large prints of their grandmother's work displayed in their home. My friend Vonda and her husband Ron live in the house with the large front room wall spoken of in the article. They have a huge print of Lehi and his family departing into the wilderness hanging in the living room. Vonda told me that the original canvas stretched from floor to ceiling!)


Spymommy said...

Love that painting - it hangs above my mantel. Love you - wisdom and humility combined with life experience. Thanks for sharing your opnions.

Becky in Wyo said...

Good, sis, good.