Elder Holland put it perfectly this weekend when he said, "The great thing about the gospel is you get credit for trying, even if you don't always succeed". I love that. Our Savior Jesus Christ blesses us and loves us perfectly no matter what, and even just trying a little bit gives us the opportunity to do what we need to, and become who he wants us to become. It's not about perfection. It's all about progress.
Saturday afternoon, I had some fierce flashbacks to the mission. When people openly and disrespectfully opposed the prophet and the quorum of the 12, I found myself on the verge of tears. Why do you go to the conference center and interrupt and rudely state your opposition to the Lord's servants? We see it in the movement of women and the priesthood, we see it with same sex marriage, we see it in a lot of ways as the times go more and more against the beliefs of the church. We aren't opposed to differing opinions in the church, but they say, "any opposed by the same sign". Be respectful and work through your concerns, and things will work out.
I learned on my mission that a lot of people, even some within the church when they hadn't been members long, have very different ideas of who Christ is, what He did, and our relationship with Him. However, while some people would say He didn't exist, I RARELY had anyone speak poorly of Him or destroy Him and His mission. While it broke my heart when people said they didn't believe in Him, or that He was just an imaginary being, they never directly attacked Him, but shared their beliefs (not always respectfully, but it was just different). A lot of times it was tied to their life experiences and their lack of knowledge about the truth, and they lost hope, happiness, and motivation to continue believing. So we would testify of the truth, seek to bless their lives, and at times just move on.
However, on the daily almost people would attack and destroy Joseph Smith. And while I defended my beliefs of the Savior and His divine mission, I had the hardest time when people attacked Joseph Smith. It often times wasn't a belief that they would even entertain, and openly and rudely opposed and destroyed.
When I first got in the field, I had a lot of repenting to do. I had very hard feelings towards those that fought against the early saints. Those who drove them from city to city, those who tried time and again to kill the prophet, who tarred and feather him, and who persecuted the saints. Serving in an area that was rich in church history was such a blessing. Feeling the spirit of Nauvoo and Carthage, being able to take investigators to the very places that so many things happened was incredible, and to this day, my mission, the places and the people still hold a massive piece of my heart. But I struggled to not be extremely emotional when it came to people outwardly attacking the prophet, and the beliefs that I hold dear.
I had those same feelings on Saturday. How could someone outwardly fight against and oppose the servants of God? Don't they know about they work in which they are engaged? Don't they know the good they are doing in the world? Don't they feel the spirit that accompanies their very presence? My perspective changed on the mission, through nothing short of diligent prayer and fasting and serving. I thought about the people opposing the sustaining of the prophets and apostles the last little bit, and a line came to me from Women's conference. My heart was immediately softened when the words came into my mind:
What if that was MY story?
What if I had had experiences that have hardened my heart towards His servants? What if I had had trials so intense that I lost hope in and my belief of my Savior and His chosen prophet, seer and revelator? What if I had been put in a family where terrible things happened and I just wasn't able to believe anymore? The "what if's" of their stories are infinite? What if I just couldn't hang on anymore? Then what?
Would I yell out in conference? Probably not. But what if I did? I would hope a loving priesthood leader, home and visiting teachers, friends and family would reach out to me and never ever give up on me.
I have had times where my faith has been tested. I have had times where I have questioned, and struggled to do the things I need to do, and my faith has been affected. It has happened more than I'd like to admit.
My heart goes out to those people. Great people getting caught up in the world.
I hope they remember the very things that changed my life on Sunday from Elder Holland:
- The great thing about the gospel is you get credit for trying, even if you don't always succeed.
- That He will be at our right hand saying "fear not! For I will stand by thee!!"
- I hope they know that "His divine love will always be with us, ESPECIALLY when we struggle"
- That the first great truth of eternity is that His loves us with everything He's got.
Elder Holland warned us: "after we are illuminated, we will endure a great fight of affliction"
I hope I can stay strong. I hope we all can. I hope we can put ourselves in other's shoes and be able to love perfectly, have great faith, and to stand strong when the trials come.
Elder Holland said: Give your heart to God. Love the Savior. Do your best. And everyday will be magnificent. Why? because God wants it to be!! Keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on.
This weekend I was humbled. I was softened. I was reminded of so many truths. I'm so glad His love is perfect. That Heaven is cheering me on. Because I need it. And you need it.
Like I was told on my mission from a ward member back home: Hang tough and finish strong. The fight is hard. Satan is tricky. But we can't forget the basic truths, and as fight to the finish, "we are guaranteed the victory through our Savior Jesus Christ" (Paul Johnson).
My heart is full.