When I was in the MTC I had a day that was extremely hard for me. I wanted to be a different person; a better person. All I saw were my faults and the improvements I needed to make. I was frustrated that I couldn't be the perfect person I had hopes of being. I was talking to one of my really good friends in my district. He asked what was wrong and I started to cry. I told him how I was feeling and that I was a failure. I was facing the reality that I wasn't perfect and I hated it. I wanted to change, but the idea of changing everything about myself was too overwhelming to comprehend. He told me that big changes like that do not happen overnight. Those come slowly, day by day. It was something that would happen over time as I continued to try to live Christ's teachings. He told me that one day I would wake up and see that those changes had happened on their own. His words were very reassuring. It was still hard to swallow that I couldn't change into someone else overnight. I put my faith in the Lord and I pushed on. I would wake up and try everyday to become more like my Savior. I wanted my mission to change me. It was something that I was going to try hard to let it happen. Instead of focusing on myself I tried to focus on studying the life of Christ. I wanted to learn as much about Him as I could. I figured that the more I learned about Christ the more I would realize all He did for me and the more I would want to be like Him. I studied and studied and studied. There is still so much I do not know or understand, but my appreciation for my Savior has grown so much stronger. The atonement has come to be more clear to me in the sense that it covers SOOO much more than we normally think about. Without our Savior there would be NO hope. None. We would be destined to live in complete darkness because there would be no redemption. There would be no point. We wouldn't be able to communicate with Heavenly Father because we would not be worthy to talk to Him. We would be lost and completely alone. We needed the atonement. We needed our Savior. He was the only one who could sacrifice himself. He was the only one worthy to do it. He came to Earth and He showed us how to live. He showed us through example. He taught us all we needed to know to return to live with our Heavenly Father again. He provided the way. He was persecuted, mocked, and ultimately killed for us. He condescended below all so that through Him we could be lifted up again. He suffered all. He knows all pain and frustration; all sickness and despair. He knows the feelings we have of inadequacy and humiliation. He went through all so that He could know how to help us. One of my favorite scriptures explains this:
Alma 7:12 " And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."
A man we were teaching decided he wanted to be baptized. We finished teaching him all the lessons and when the day came that he was baptized, he couldn't stop smiling. We asked him what he felt he said clarity. He said that since he started learning about our church he had a new found clarity. He said that things were all starting to make sense and he felt like he had direction. That wasn't the answer I had expected to hear, but as I thought about his words I realized that clarity is exactly what the Gospel gives us. I looked up the definition of clarity to get a better understanding of what the word means. It said:
clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding;freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.
the state or quality of being clear or transparent to the eye; pellucidity: the clarity of pure water.
1. intelligibility, exactness, simplicity.
I liked the definition of clearness and the example of pure water. When this man was baptized he became completely clean and pure. He was focused on the Savior and through that he developed a new clarity. He was focused on what is truly important and all the other little things in life lost their significance. No longer does the frustrating boss at work seem like such a trial. You start to see things with an eternal perspective. You see what really matters and what doesn't. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings to us the clarity we need to get through all of our challenges and hard times. It brings us joy even when we feel like there is no hope. We find that with our Savior there is ALWAYS HOPE!!!
As I have come home for a transfer to get rid of my kidney stones I have realized that perhaps I have changed more than I had originally thought. Jokes I once thought were funny are not. Priorities I used to have, have weeded themselves off of my list. Topics of conversation I once thought were tolerable I have found are completely inappropriate and I refuse to engage in them. As my friend told me 9 months ago, the day would come and I would realize I had changed without even realizing it. I have a more clear understanding of what is important. I know who I am and I am not willing to jeopardize that to make others feel more comfortable around me. I have much higher standards and I will not lower them for anything. My thoughts are focused on my Savior. That is where they need to be. That is the only safety we have in this world. I have seen too many good people fall away slowly. I have seen people shrivel in adversity because they cared too much about what others thought about them. What they don't realize is that anyone who is a friend at all would NEVER put you in a situation where you felt like you had to lower your standards to fit in. You need to RUN as fast and as far way from them as you can. They will bring you down. We all need to come to the point where we realize what is most important. We need to surround ourselves with people who will encourage us to be the absolute best person we can be. Life is far too short to think we can meddle in mediocrity. We need to hold ourselves to a much higher standard!! We need to rise above that. I have seen since my mission that the line between black and white is becoming much thinner. We all have to choose which side we want to be on. There is no fence sitting. We have to choose to follow the Gospel and our Savior 100% or not to. We can't pick and choose what teachings we want to live. There is no middle ground. If we keep an eternal perspective of why we are here and where we want to go, then the choice is not hard. We know that this life is short. We agreed to follow the Lord and we promised him we would. Now is the time for us to prove true to our word. He will be there with us every step of the way. If life was easy we wouldn't learn the things necessary to return to live with God and become more like him. There are things we have to learn on earth that are going to be hard. We learn through our trials. That is when we learn to rely on our Savior to get us through. That is when we realize how powerful the atonement is. Always.... ALWAYS look to the Lord for comfort and reassurance.I promise you that as you seek Him you WILL find Him. It is never too late to turn to Christ!!