I love how the Christmas season brings out a little more joy and kindness in each one of us. I love being able to spend time with my family, and not having to spend too much time studying for school. Most importantly, the Christmas season gives me an opportunity to reflect and act on the blessings and opportunities I have in this life, which are only made possible by my Savior Jesus Christ. Because of His birth, perfect life, Atonement, and Resurrection none of God's blessings will be withheld from me. He truly paid the ultimate price of His life for us, the best gift any of us can receive this Christmas. His Light and Spirit radiate the hearts of men throughout the whole year, but it is up to us to listen to His voice, and do as He would have us do, even when the Christmas season ends. As President Monson has taught, "may we not spend Christmas, but keep it. When we keep the spirit of Christmas we keep the Spirit of Chirst, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit."
This past year, I finally graduated from college. With graduation came a host of decisions and new opportunities that came my way. I often times woke up in the middle of the night with anxious thoughts and feelings “what are the best decisions for me to make at this time? Where does the Lord want me to be? How will I know what is right?” Feeling frustrated at times that the answer always seemed to be “it’s up to you” I began to struggle a little with understanding my relationship with my Savior. Did he really care about the things I care about? Is he really involved and invested in my life?
As the year has moved on I have come to learn more about Him and the kind of happiness that he desires for us as His brothers and sisters. Because of the Savior’s supreme act of kindness and selflessness, He has given us a chance to use our agency as we desire and has provided us a chance to make mistakes and still return to him. Navigating this life is not always easy. There are many competing voices and various distractions that can often knock us off course but no matter where we are on that course, He will never turn his back on us. He will continually invite us to come.
My best friend taught me that the Savior will never stop providing us with opportunities to come close to him and to make good opportunities out of the choices we make. He will never look at our current position and say “you have gone too far off course – you are no longer worth my love.” This kind of conditional love is not in Him. He is not capable of it. He is only capable of the unconditional love that is constant and never changing.
I am grateful that my Savior loves me enough to never give up on me – no matter how many times it takes me to be where he wants me to be. He is the only constant in a world that is ever changing. I am grateful that in times of despair, loneliness or helplessness that he is there to wrap his arms around me and envelop me in His love.
As we begin this New Year, may we never give up on ourselves and never give up on Him. His path will bring an everlasting joy that the world is incapable of offering. I know that. I trust in that. I cherish the fact that His love is reality and that there are good things to come for those who trust in Him. I love my Savior with all of my heart and look forward to the day when I can run to His arms and feel his loving embrace. I look forward to the day that He will sit me on his knee and listen to the challenges, heartbreaks, joys and triumphs of my mortal existence. He is our friend, our confidant and our greatest support. He lives to see us overcome the darkness of this world. Change may not come all in one night but trust that consistency will yield great fruit.
May we remember the true gift this Christmas: the gift of our Saviors birth He enables us to leave the past behind and have a new life in Him. That is a gift worth celebrating. Merry Christmas!
Jesus is common ground.
What I mean is not that we all think the same way about everything, but that we think the same way about one very, very important and central idea.
Two millenia ago, Jesus set this example.
People matter. They are worth dying for.
From here on out, all our disagreements about church dogma and proper Christianity pale in comparison to our agreement upon that central tenet.
A lot of time, we see the idea that people matter reduced to the simple platitude “God is Love”, and while 1 John 4:7-8 give us those exact words, the real love he is talking about is a love so enormous and so selfless that we see a more precise definition in John 15:13 - “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Once we accept this idea, we start to realize that our concerns over whether or not we buy Chik-fil-a or whether or not we vote Republican or whether or not we listen to secular music all PALE in comparison to whether or not we treat the lady in the drive through with Christlike love.
Let me give an example.
In the summer, I sell educational books door-to-door. My job is to work from 7:59 AM until 9:31 PM with no breaks, but core to sales (at least, the style of sales I’m willing to do) is the carefree willingness to let your prospects decide whether or not to become customers. Sure, you have to be pleasantly persistent, but if you aren’t genuinely willing to accept a rejection, your day of 90% rejection will feel like an unending series of slaps in the face.
Some of the really Type-A bookpeople knock three times on the door and say out loud, “I’m coming in!” (one word per knock) to establish their confidence.
I found that didn’t work for me. I had to say “I love you” on my three knocks.
In my first summer, and for the first half of my second, I worked for myself. I worked to prove to myself that I wasn’t afraid of hard work, and so when I prayed, I prayed for my own strength. “God, give me the capacity to love Mrs. Jones even though I don’t know her yet.”
By the second half of my second summer, that wasn’t working anymore. I needed something different, and I found it following a bookwoman of immense spiritual strength. She prayed at the beginning of the day for God to give her three people to pray for, and by the end of the day, God had.
I spent the last four weeks of the summer starting each day with that same prayer, and what amazed me most was that over the course of each day, no one ever rejected my offer to pray for him or her. I never offered until I had packed up all my stuff to leave (I didn’t want anyone to think I was namedropping Jesus to make a sale), but I also didn’t lead with a screening question like “are you a believer?” yet still no one ever said no. I never even got an obligation yes. (Trust me, after a few months of sales, you learn what an obligation yes sounds like). Many seemed to be genuinely relieved that I offered.
I prayed over a woman who was diagnosed with cancer that very morning and didn’t realize the coincidence of diagnosis and prayer until a week later.
That sort of divine timing worked out at least twice a week.
I think the reason they all agreed to pray with me because Jesus’s most deeply held conviction served as our common ground. He taught us that people matter. He taught us that they are worth dying for.
And when you believe that at the very core of your being, others can feel your conviction that they do truly matter.
I don’t think this means that you never experience rejection when sharing the gospel; many of you LDS readers know that firsthand. I just think that Jesus was guiding my steps with kid gloves because He knew the fragile state I was in. He knew that I needed to be reminded that I have treasures far more valuable than educational books to share.
In my summers on the bookfield, Jesus taught me that people matter enough to risk getting a door slammed in your face in order to remind them that they are unconditionally loved.
Jesus taught me that whether or not I believe in global warming and marriage equality and affirmative action matters far less than whether or not I approach those dialogues with humility and with the assumption that my opponent’s motives are pure - that he isn’t really my opponent at all when we both seek to promote human flourishing and the protection of God’s created beings.
Jesus taught me that the way we treat our cashiers matters far more than whether we are shopping at Chik-fil-a or Home Depot.
People matter. He staked his life on that.
I’ve been told that the best way to get love is to give love. If that is the case, Jesus Christ should be the most loved person in existence! Why? Because he loves each of us with a perfect love. I know that his love is freely given, and that nothing can or will “separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Romans 8:39).
As I have tried to think about the Savior during this month, a children’s hymn keeps coming to mind.
I feel my Savior’s love,
In all the world around me.
His Spirit warms my soul,
Through everything I see.
He knows I will follow Him,
Give all my life to Him.
I feel my Savior’s love,
The love He freely gives me.
I feel the love of my Savior in moments when I am truly happy. When I am running in view of the beautiful Cascade mountains, when I hear babies giggle, when I sing songs with my sister and a whole host of other things. Perhaps more importantly, I feel His love when I am sad or lonely. I know that I can speak to Him in prayer and that communication with Him will bring me true comfort and peace. He knows me, and He will always be there to listen. Not only does He listen, He is ever present in every facet of my life.
I know that all things testify of Christ (Moses 6:63). Life has the potential to make us so happy because all that we experience, all that we can see, hear, feel, reminds us of a Savior who loves us. Maybe it is easier for us to recognize that love in our lives during the Christmas season, but nothing ever said by Christ put limits on His love. It is always unconditional. It is always never ending. It is always perfect.
I would hope and wish and pray that we each allow the love of the Savior to permeate our lives. And not just recognize it when “all is well”, but know that it is constantly surrounding us in good times and in bad. Words could never begin to adequately express how grateful I am for my Jesus. I glory in Him, for He has redeemed my soul (2 Nephi 33:6). There is a beauty in all of life, because it all testifies of Him. May we always see that for the exquisite privilege it is.
As Christ taught in the temple, he asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ?”(Matthew 22:42). Although this question is fitting for all seasons and times of the year, it is one that is emphasized more in this CHRISTmas season. Five years ago I was able to spend a semester in the Holy Land and think perhaps more intensely of Christ and what I thought of Him as I studied in the same place he was born, taught, healed and performed miracles. As students at the BYU-Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies, we were not allowed to share our testimony or proselyte in any way as part of the terms of BYU maintaining the center in the Jerusalem. While I was there, my testimony of Christ was strengthened in many ways, and as the Christmas approached that semester in a few vivid ways that I will cherish throughout my life.
In late November, we visited Galilee for two weeks. We enjoyed a red, white and blue themed Thanksgiving with sparklers in the turkeys and then spend some time in classes and visiting around the beautiful area of Galilee. Probably the most meaningful visit I had in Galilee was when we visited Capernaum, when Jesus often taught. In John chapter 6, Christ feeds the five thousand, and they seek to take him by force to make him king. He travels to Capernaum, and there in the synagogue offers an incredible sermon on the Bread of Life. He teaches of the sacrament and testifies of Himself as the Bread of Life. Many of His followers that had been miraculously fed murmur and say “this is an hard saying,” and cannot accept it and many “went back, and walked no more with him.” I can picture Christ being disheartened because these people He loves choose not to follow Him when they have seen miracles. Perhaps feeling this rejection and with His pure love, He asks the twelve, “will ye also go away?” in John 6:67. Simon Peter answers Him and his response is what had maybe the greatest effect on me that semester. “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” As I read and focused on Peter’s response that day in the synagogue in Capernaum, I had the great desire to NEVER EVER ‘go away’ from the Savior. I want to stand STRONG, STEADFAST and IMMOVABLE in my testimony of the Messiah and His Atonement. Indeed, I know that ‘all that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.’
Jerusalem is a fascinating place. As a Holy City to Islam, Judaism and Christianity, there are what seems to be millions of people and hundreds of churches, cultures and languages spoken. Those who know me can attest I LOVE meeting other people and getting to know them and aspects of their culture. It was hard for me to not share my testimony or aspects of the gospel of Jesus Christ with people that realistically may not have the chance to hear or know principles and doctrine that have brought me such peace and direction in life. Even though I could not share in word, I felt an overwhelming love for these people as children of God and my brothers and sisters. One time that we were able to bear our testimony in a sense was during our Christmas concert that we presented as students for the community. As we sang traditional Christmas songs and hymns, we were able to bear our testimony of Christ and as we meaningfully sang and thought of the meaning of the words this experience was one of the most powerful for many of the students, including myself.
Give. With this one word, Christ describes to me the essence of the gospel and of the Christmas season. He is the reason for the season and gave all that we might live, and live abundantly. “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over shall men give into your bosom.”(Luke 6:38) As we give to others this season or throughout the year, whether physically, spiritually, or in any way, we will be blessed beyond measure. The giving of oneself is at the center of becoming more like Christ. I love the quote by Neal A. Maxwell about giving or submitting our will to God’s. He says “the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing that we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!” As we give the Lord our will it will undoubtedly lead to service as we strive to be instruments in His hands for the benefit of others; “for how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?”(Mosiah 5:13) At this time of year and always, we should give of ourselves and give ourselves to Christ.
I think the world of Christ. He is the Creator of the world! He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the Bread of Life, the Living Water, and First and the Last, the great I AM. He is the Messiah, the Savior, the Light of the World, and I love Him! My gratitude and testimony of His divine and infinite atonement have grown from my life’s experiences to those I experienced in the Holy Land, and like Peter, I BELIEVE AND AM SURE that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
I guess I’m getting so old I’m starting to quote myself. These are some observations I made in a book called, The Cost of Winning: Coming in First Across the Wrong Finish line.” The book is about the mistake we make when we turn life into a contest, which to the Savior it is clearly not. This is what I said:
So why is it, during the holidays, we suddenly feel uneasy about businesses trying so hard to get their share of the money that’s going to be spent on Christmas presents? What I suspect is that under the surface we all know that we, not the system, have made Christmas too materialistic. We know we spend too much money and that we’ve turned something sacred into, “What do you want for Christmas?”
What we believe is that Christmas ought to be simple, family-oriented, and peaceful. Instead it’s often hectic and worldly. But we keep doing it the same way each year. Many of us spend way too much money on gifts, go into debt, and realize every January—when the credit card bills come in—that we’ve gotten carried away.
But there’s more to it than that. We say we like to give more than receive, and maybe we’re somewhat disingenuous about that, but I do think we enjoy the giving. And in a materialistic society, maybe it’s only natural that we would think that when it comes to giving, more is more—that we prove our love with the price of the present.
But we also give to the poor at that time of year—more than any other time. That’s good, isn’t it? The Christmas music, the stories, the “spirit of Christmas” does cause us to donate to “Sub for Santa” and other such programs. We don’t want any child to go without “a Christmas,” as we call it. That’s certainly a good impulse. Maybe we try to manifest love with material gifts, but at least we include people in need.
But let’s think about that, too. I once heard a United Way executive say that during the holidays Americans love to give a turkey to a poor family--whether the family has an oven or not. Sometimes, he said, it would be so much better to give that family a case of peanut butter—say, in August, when kids go back to school. But in August many of us don’t think much about the poor. In August, we tend to get awfully worried about “the dole.” A kind of “every man for himself” mentality prevails. But Christmas is different. Everyone should have a Christmas—and that means everyone should get presents.
Is it materialism in the name of religion?
I think it is, but it’s certainly not all bad. Some of our most noble emotions are inspired by the season, and maybe, instead of complaining so much about the commercialism, we should accept the two parts of ourselves represented by the frenzy we create.
When my beautiful, talented, intelligent friend Sara asked me to write a blog post during the month of December about Jesus Christ, this was my train of thought, "I still have so many presents to buy and wrap... what is a cookie exchange and how on earth did I end up getting invited to TWO?!?... I bet I'm going to have to hang the Christmas lights myself because my husband just had to go and have surgery on his foot... I wonder how my old decorations will look in my new house... I don't have time to think about Jesus!!!" End scene.
This isn't going to be another blog post about making room for Jesus this Christmas. This is about how, even when I'm too busy to think about Him (during the celebration of His birth, I might add), or when I make the same mistakes over and over again, or when I fail yet again to say my prayers that morning, or when I'm criticizing, envying, or judging others, my Savior still loves me. I get so frustrated when I ask my kids what feels like five million times to put away their backpacks and shoes (the "after school vomit," my friend's term for the dump that takes place by the front door each afternoon). Why can't they learn?!? My Savior could say the same thing of me-- I've told Susanna time and time again to read her scriptures regularly. She never learns! Instead, He accepts me for what minuscule offerings I do give and waits patiently for me to give a little more.
I love my Savior for lots of reasons. But probably my favorite thing about Him is that I know He loves me exactly how I am. (I didn't always know that.) He wants more for me, for sure, but He's waiting, patiently. With eternal, unending, forever and ever, infinity patience. With arms so wide spread He could hug everyone who ever lived and will ever live in a single enormous embrace. He is just waiting for me to come to Him with my weaknesses so, through Him, they can become strengths. I take a few baby steps in His direction here and there but almost as often, I take some back. In the spiritual sense, I'm probably a 2-year-old. Who still has to make her second set of six dozen snicker doodles to take to the next cookie exchange. That's 72 cookies, people.
So I will keep trying. And my Savior will keep loving me and waiting for me. With open arms. Based on my track record, my pathway of discipleship is going to be bumpy and windy; there will probably be a little off-roading. But Jesus Christ will never leave me or you and His love will never cease. Now that is a reason to celebrate.
Excitement and anticipation fill the air this time of year, waiting for Christmas to finally arrive with visions of sugar plums dancing and swirling in our heads. But this year holds a different kind of anticipation for me, one that has been less celebratory and more anxiety filled. This will be the first Christmas since my husband passed away.
It's difficult to explain the kind of emotions that arise knowing he won't be here to see our daughter open her gifts, even if she is still mostly interested in just the box. There will be no looking forward to him having days off work to spend at home, no cuddling under a warm blanket on those cold wintery nights, and no scolding him for accidentally breaking another figurine in the nativity set. As I've contemplated the season, while marking another of difficult firsts, it has made me think more of all our lasts. Christmastime 2013 was the last time my husband was healthy, and just one month into the new year he passed away. That last Christmas holds treasured and sacred memories now.
Knowing this season of frosted window panes was coming and would be difficult, I recently attended an evening dedicated to those grieving the loss of a loved one during the holidays. The keynote speaker was author Richard Paul Evans. I wasn't really sure what to expect but actually felt rather relaxed while meeting with 5 other widows for dinner before hand. As we reached the parking at the U of U, I still felt good and just curious to see what the night would hold. But as soon as we entered the building, the air seemed to thicken as I breathed in and my heart rate quickened. I was full of emotions realizing I was about to walk into a room where the topic was all about not having your loved one here for the holidays. The fact that I even qualified for attending the event was overwhelming. As I walked in and joined a full house, there came a comforting feeling from being among others also grieving the loss of a loved one.
Richard Paul Evans, probably most famed for writing The Christmas Box, shared his story of how that book came into being and the inspiration and miracles that accompanied it. He told story after story about how people had been drawn to the book and received comfort from its few short chapters. While touched by the experiences he shared, I have to admit I had never read the book before and didn't really understand the comfort he was referring to. RPE then also shared how several readers had even found the book, as if they were drawn to it. As if the book wanted to be read. As I sat there, an overwhelming realization hit me. THAT was the book that was sitting on my desk at home! I had been moving it around from table to shelf to desk, never really putting it away after pulling it out of a box in the garage a week prior.
Let me explain how the book even came to be mine. A few weeks after my husband's passing, I moved with our then 6 month old daughter, back home with to live with my parents. Needless to say, not everything fits in our new place. I brought as many things with me as I could, and the rest went into storage. Just the week before hearing RPE speak, I had been with my dad unpacking and organizing a few of the last boxes that still sat taking up precious space in the garage. One box, marked "Important Document" stood collecting dust. The documents must not have been that important anymore because I hadn't really touched the box from the previous move my husband and I made to our apartment nearly two years ago. So I figured I better browse through it in case there were any sentimental notes or letter from my husband I wanted to keep. Instead, one of the things I found was an old folder with cookie recipes, typed Christmas stories, and memories from a holiday cookie exchange about 5 years earlier. Included was a copy of The Christmas Box. A an old client had given it to everyone at the party. She had been Richard Paul Evan's next door neighbor at the time. Having never read the book before, I pulled it out thinking I better just put it on the bookshelf in the house. So in it went and around it moved. I never really felt like I could put it away, but at the time had no intentions to read it right away.
It was as if the book didn't want to be put away, although I didn't realize this until I sat listening to its author sharing how the book seems to miraculously find its way to those who need to read it. I don't think it any small matter that a book I had in my possession for that many years and never read seemed to find its way back into my home. It was finding me at a time when the story would have real meaning to me, and it was just sitting patiently on my desk to be read; it was waiting for a time when an almost unsurmountable grief would come into my life and I'd be clinging to any small amount of comfort that may come.
Richard's advise for those in attendance that night has left a big impact. He commented that we when we see our loved ones again, which he emphatically shared his belief that we will, what would we say to them as they ask "How did you honor my life?" We need to say we lived for them! And then he read a portion from the book:
Hope of embracing you again... And this because of the great gift of Christmas. Because He came. The first Christmas offering from a parent to His children, because he loved them and wanted them back.
...a parents pure love for child, manifested first by a Father's love for all His children as he sacrificed that which he loved most and sent His son to earth on that Christmas day so long ago. And as long as the earth lives, and longer, that message will never die. Though the cold winds of life may put a frost on the heart of many, that message alone will shelter the heart from life's storms.
Many of the guests were already wiping tears away upon hearing this message when a young man walked to the front with his cello and began to play Silent Night. I couldn't contain my tears and many people began using shirt sleeves to soak up the salty remnants since their tissues had long since ran out. I thought through the lyrics in my head as the notes glided across the strings and bow, floating into the air and around each person. The notes began magically filling the room with the blessed truth that the Christ Child was born. I thought of Mary, holding her holy infant so tender, so mild. I thought of that first Christmas gift, the Savior of the World and felt comfort, peace, and above all love.
The heavenly peace that comes through my own faith in Jesus Christ has carried me through the season of turkey drumsticks and stockings being hung with care. It's allowed me to continue some traditions and plan for new ones, knowing keeping things the same would be a blatant cry that they aren't and never will be again. One tradition I kept was to visit Temple Square in Salt Lake City with my daughter. This was one of the last things we did with my husband before he began a month long struggle being ill before passing away. Since it was unseasonably warm out, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take my 16 mo daughter Liberty to see the millions of lights sparkle and gleam.
As we made our way along with the throngs of thousands towards the life size nativity, I was grateful for a friend and her new beau for letting us join them so I didn't feel quite so alone. We gathered along the garland strung parameter and waited for the narration to begin again. Pointing to the shepherds and sheep we all made baaa-ing sounds to amuse Liberty. Then we watched the lights grow on the stable scene. From the scriptures the words sounded,
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
As soon as I heard the words "heavenly host" I began to cry. The emotions just poured over me without warning and escaped through my tears. My friend glancing back noticed that I was overcome and reached her arms around me. Thinking of the angels who heralded the birth of Jesus Christ, I thought of my own angel in heaven this Christmas. And then just as quickly as the emotions sprang, the feeling of peace and love that comes from the message Christmas brings once again filled my heart and my mind. The small babe that lay in a humble manger born in the meridian if time, brought the most extraordinary gift of love and hope.
Focusing on the gift of Jesus Christ instead of the ones I won't be giving to my husband this year has kept me from despair. It has softened my grief. There will still be a fair share of tears, longing for Christmases past, a pain in my heart as I watch our daughter experience the sights, smells, and sounds of the season without her daddy. But I am no longer dreading Christmas. Grief is an emotion that takes up a lot of room and if allowed it will push out all the other emotions in your heart. The message of the first gift of Christmas, the true message of the season, is allowing some peace and some wonder, even joy into my heart. My faith in the Holy One is reaffirmed, and I think with fondness that my husband is celebrating Christmas with Christ this year.
This year has been especially challenging for me. It began with what I might list as one of the top five trials of mortality in the next life. After a few weeks of January had passed, I experienced love and loss in an indescribable way. Something happened that was comparable to having my best friend pass away. It was heart-wrenching and devastating. The pain was debilitating for weeks. I had never known that kind of grief before and a day hasn't passed since where I haven’t thought about it. I still do not understand the outcome. But that kind of challenge is often what we are all dealt. We experience setbacks, disappointment, grief, fear, pain, regret, and weakness in this life. There isn't one among us who is stranger to affliction.
But despite the opposing forces, whatever they may be, the means to overcome is the same. During this trying year, I have found again and again the relief that comes from Jesus Christ. What is asked of us in this life can seem like too much, but I know that He is there to help us and to heal us. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we have access to His grace. It is His enabling and strengthening power and it is always available and accessible. The beautiful thing about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that where much is required, much is given. I know the scripture says where much is given, much is required, but it works both ways. (D&C 82:3)
If we are commanded to do something, he shall prepare the way.
What is going on in your life? What do you need help with? What questions do you want to have answered? Who do you need to love more? Who do you need to forgive? What do you need to accomplish? What do you need to change? What weakness do you want to overcome? What do you need to repent of? Where do you need an increase of faith?
He will help you.
Let us not limit ourselves or our abilities. There is no limit to His wisdom, omnipotence, or love, and we have access to that! We can do anything with the help of our Savior Jesus Christ. And we have the ability and the potential to choose to have faith and trust in Him, despite all of the opposition that we face. And the blessings that await us and that are poured out upon us are not only innumerable, but probably often unnoticed. I've realized that I may not even be aware of all the details of my life that the Lord is involved in!
I’m an avid journal writer when I want to be and I wrote often during my setback that started out this year for me. The few times I've read what I wrote about that experience my faith in, and love for Jesus Christ, have increased. I’m also amazed as I go back and read that I was so positive despite the pain I was enduring. I am grateful that I suffered, because it has made me more grateful for the gospel and the love of God. He gave me strength.
So, be patient, carry on, don’t give up, everything will be okay. The Atonement is for you. It is for the individual. It is also infinite, and sufficient, in all of its purposes. And you can do anything through Christ.
“Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.”
Doctrine and Covenants 123:17
At Gavin's one month appointment the doctor said everything looked great, but that we should encourage him to turn his head to the right a little more often; he was favoring the left and was starting to strain those little muscles. Being the overachieving new mom that I was, we practiced ALL the time. I quickly became frustrated when he decided he did not want to play along with my little games. The fact was, he didn't like turning his head to the right and wasn't going to play along!
One afternoon after a feeding, I placed Gavin on the changing table. Miracle of miracles, he turned his head to the right. Not only that, he smiled! I was so pleased that we were finally making progress! At every diaper change my little boy would turn his head to the right. It was the only time he would voluntarily do so. I didn't know why it was happening but I was grateful. One day, Gavin was doing a great job turning his head and gave the biggest smile. It was a full on grin, accompanied by a penetrating stare to the right. I followed his gaze for the first time and was stunned. There, on our wall, was a painting of the Savior. I looked at Gavin, then back at the painting. There was no mistaking the fact that his eyes were locked on the face of Jesus Christ. I scooped my baby boy up in my arms and held him closer to the picture. My eyes filled with tears when my usually squirmy newborn became perfectly still. The spirit filled my heart and I knew I was witnessing a tiny miracle. My son was literally turning to the Savior.
In the days following that quiet moment with my baby, I was comforted. Our sweet experience reminded me of the love I have for Jesus Christ and His love for me. His perfect atonement meant that He knew what I was going through. He knew how I felt when I didn't know how to comfort my screaming baby. He knew how tired I was and how I felt completely inadequate at times. He felt my pain when I looked at my baby and remembered that we would have to go through more rounds of IVF to give him a sibling. He knew me, and He knew my sorrows. And it took my newborn son to remind me to turn to the Savior for comfort and peace. My perfect, sweet, angel son.
Messages of Faith
Our blog contributors will deliver consistent messages of faith to try and help all of us come closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Subscribe and receive an
e-mail update every time we post!