Saturday, February 9, 2008

“The Gift”

PREFACE: I have been working on this blog for a week. It has taken some time to try and say what I have been feeling without it sounding like a pity party or that I can’t deal with what the Lord has given me at this time in my life. Be prepared to spend a minute or two…

I've been doing some reading and studying and pondering and praying and thinking.... All of those combined are quite dangerous! --At least for me. OK, not dangerous, but they make me grow and sometimes that is painful, and I don’t like what I have to learn.

A few months ago I picked up a book entitled: "Gifts of Self-Esteem: Obtaining Spiritual Gifts and Strengthening Self-Perception,” by Mary Jane Woodger. Mary Jane Woodger is a religion professor at BYU. Anyway, the book stayed on my nightstand for about six months and then last week I was looking for something to read and....well, I picked it up.

So, what have I learned? Some amazing things. It shouldn't surprise me at this point in my life but it always does that the Lord knows me so well. I have been really struggling with two women in my ward. Old Story—New Chapter. The history there is soooooooo long. It has made it very difficult to live in the ward. These two women verbally attacked me a few years ago and their track record with others in the ward is about the same. --They didn't just single me out in the games they play. A few weeks ago the husband of one of these woman and I had about a 45 minute heated discussion. He is now a member of the bishopric. This is all beside the point. --Maybe it's not, but it should be. So, because I know what the Lord expects of me, and I KNOW what I expect of me, I have been really digging deeply into the scriptures and into anything else that might be able to give me hope and answers in this situation. I would move tomorrow if I could...again, the Lord has placed me and my family here in the middle of no-where for a very divine purpose. I know that. Of that I am quite sure. So, instead of running, I want to show the Lord and myself that I can do what he has asked me to do. It's important.

So this is what I have learned. I call this post "the gift" because I feel like the knowledge I have been given has been just that, "A Gift." Sister Woodger shares these thoughts:

"One of the other misconceptions written by my students is that if you just do this or that then you can develop charity. I will write in green, "This is not true." I then will explain, "I can no more get up in the morning and say, 'I am going to get up and work on getting prophecy today' anymore than I can say, 'I am going to get up and work on charity today." We cannot give charity to ourselves; it is always a gift. The word "gift" is a synonym for charity. What I write in green all over those student's papers on the Gospel topic of charity is, "Charity is a gift not an achievement. " You can achieve an MBA, work for a commission, or have a nicer yard by your efforts, but you cannot achieve charity on your own. "

Elder Holland reminds us: "Mormon explicitly taught, that this love, this ability, capacity, and reciprocation we all so want, is a gift. It is "bestowed"--that is Mormon's word. It doesn't come without effort and it doesn't come without patience but, like salvation itself, in the end it is a gift, given by God to the "true followers of his Son Jesus, Christ." The solutions to life's problems are always Gospel solutions. Not only are answers found in Christ, but so is the power, the gift, the bestowal, the miracle of giving and receiving those answers."

Moroni, who recorded his father's message, was a great man who not only ran out of ore at the end of his life but also ran out of family, friends, society, civilization, and, for most part, the love of others. Gratefully, it is Moroni who teaches us how to get through any running-out-of process. Many of us will experience a diminishing of love in this dispensation of both the fullness of the gospel and the fullness of evil. Mormon teaches his son how one can love in a very frightening place where love is a rare commodity:

"Wherefore my beloved brethren if ye have not charity ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest gift of all, for all things must fail--

"But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and who is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. "

"Wherefore, by beloved brethren, pray unto the father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. (Moroni 7:46-48)

As Mormon teaches, the Lord bestows charity on us according to our desires. Charity is not something we develop. Rather, charity is a gift that comes through earnest supplication.

And I think this is the key: "When this gift is bestowed and accepted, all of our natural human tendencies are transformed, and we begin to relate to others in new ways. Charity is truly the gift that keeps giving, growing, and building over time. Mormon tells us that when we possess charity, it is a starting point to come even as the Savior. "When he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (Moroni 7:48). With charity, we will have an eternal personality and a celestial self-esteem, because when charity is received, it energizes, empowers, and eliminates the natural man. Approaches to love other than charity are flawed. Charity never fails. We can fail charity, but charity never fails us. Many gifts will be obsolete in the celestial kingdom, but charity, love, and loving, sealed relationships will not fail (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Just as there are those we enjoy giving gifts to, we can assume there may be some of our Father in Heaven’s children that HE is more anxious to give the gift of charity to than others. I have some friends whom I like to give gifts to and others whom I find it difficult to give to. For instance, I have one friend who, when I give her something, goes on and on about it. If I give her clothing she will tell me it is just what she wanted and she will purposely wear it when I am with her. For weeks, she will tell me know much she enjoyed whatever I gave her. She often tells me, "You are the best gift giver and give the best things. Your presents are perfect." I love to buy things for her. Likewise, I have a little niece named Jessica who is immediately on the phone telling me know much she loves it when I mail something to her. She learned this behavior from her parents who do the same thing. I love to give to those who are appreciative.

Sister Woodger goes on to make the point that if one synonym for charity is gift, then to completely understand charity, we must also identify the antonym, or the emotion that cannot coexist with charity. Much to my surprise I discovered that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is jealousy. WOW! That thought hit me like a ton of bricks. I like to think of myself as one who takes great joy in the accomplishments of others. I really do! So read on…Here are some more of what Sister Woodger thinks and understands about jealousy and its comparison to charity or love.

The Hebrew word for jealousy “denotes an inordinate, consuming selfish desire, arising from improper or evil motives.” Jealousy rears its head in a number of ways. Jealousy prevents us from sharing the good fortune of others. If we are jealous when we discover someone is happy or having a good time, we suddenly feel irritated or annoyed. Our annoyance comes from jealousy. When something good is said about someone else, we may begin to feel uncomfortable. We imagine someone else enjoying success and we feel excluded and hurt. Jealousy has many ways of expressing itself and ways to make our lives miserable. Envy arises when we tell ourselves that we are happy when, in reality, we are not and we ant more. If I am envious of another’s success, then I am wanting more success. Envy is a clear sign that we are denying our potential. It is one of the most agonizing of emotional states. Then we feel it, the more painful and agonizing it becomes. Unlike the healing emotions jealousy rears its head in guilt and anger. It says you have what I want, and I am in pain because I do not have it.

When we harbor jealousy, we are hard to live with because we are always uptight. Jealousy is riddled with judgment and criticism. Those dwelling in jealousy, dwell in problems instead of looking for solutions. Jealousy is based not on another’s actions but on our reactions to their actions.

Looking at this antonym of charity helps us to understand charity. Likewise, looking at synonyms to define charity also broadens our understanding. We have already discussed that one synonym of charity is gift, a second synonym is gratitude and a third is love. The pure love of Christ is the scriptural definition. Enmeshed inside that pure love of Christ will also be a pure love of self, or self-esteem.

So that’s where I am. Tomorrow I hope to share some of my notes from today’s Worldwide Broadcast. It was awesome. Two hours of training about “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Very good.


texastwo said...

This was a great post! You are so amazing...want me to come beat the crap out of those chicks? You know I will! ;)
Love ya!


Cornfields, children and waterballet said...

Yeah! I would love it!

You know, I was with my students at UNK last night and I told Daren I wish that I could feel the same love I have for my students for "a few people" in the ward. When I am with my students and others from the University you get to see the real me. I give so much love and am so happy. When I go to church, I have to be on guard. I know I can let my hair down in Primary and that is probably why the Lord has so kindly and mercifully put me there. I love the children. They know I do, and they give me so much love back.

We need to chat! :)