I have spent a majority of my life thinking I am a lot stronger, physically, than I actually am. I have this weird condition where I think I can beat up everyone. In high school, the strength and conditioning coach liked to test to see how much I could lift. As a result, I ended most basketball seasons squatting and cleaning at least as much as many of the guys on the team. I liked the idea of being strong. However, my vision of strength was limited in scope. I felt that strength was legitimized only by how much I could lift. Conversely, the strength I want to talk about today is strength that comes from within.
I remember reading through the Book of Mormon with some of the other missionaries while I was serving in Nauvoo, a mission that only has sisters. We came to the part of the story when Nephi and his family are journeying through the wilderness. In addition to moving their whole lives across the desert, the women were also having kids! In 1 Nephi 17:2 it says that the women "were strong, yea, even like unto the men." I had always LOVED this verse, much to the surprise of the sisters I was reading with. In their minds eye they saw these women who were big, hulking and not very pretty, not necessarily the kind of women they were aiming to be :) I tried to explain to them that the reason I loved this verse so much is that it showed that these women were just as strong as the men, and it wasn't a bad thing. It was a good thing. It was something that they had been blessed with. And maybe I related a little bit to the being big and hulky aspect - given my man thighs, a blessing and a curse from the good ol papa ;)
Perhaps one of my favorite illustrations of strength however, focuses on what I think is the real strength of women. It was related in a General Conference address in 1982, and comes from the talk, "The Future History of the Church" by G. Homer Durham. In the talk, Elder Durham relates the expedition of the early Mormon pioneers through "Hole-in-the-Rock", a treacherous pass with sheer cliffs that descended through Glen Canyon. Wagons required chains to lock the wheels and multiple ropes tied to the side held by men to make sure the wagon didn't careen out of control and crush all those in it's path. Now comes my favorite part of one group's journey :)
The family of Joseph Stanford Smith and his wife, Arabella, was the last wagon to descend that day. A grandson, Raymond Smith Jones, has described their experience. I doubt that a modern film company, with millions of dollars and modern engineering resources, could film this epic.
Perhaps more important than any physical strength shown that day, was the strength that came from within Belle to do what needed to be done. This type of strength is not easily measured or easily visible to others. However, it is so beautifully illustrated by this and many other stories of women throughout church history and the scriptures.
In both of these examples, I love that while the strength exhibited by the women was equal to the men, it was not the same. Belle didn't magically grow muscles to physically become as strong as her husband, and the wives of Nephi and his company didn't either. They knew what needed to be done, and their inner strength, their strength as women of faith, enabled them to accomplish the task at hand. I am grateful for these examples of strong women in my life, not necessarily strong in the physical sense, but strong in faith. I hope that each of us, male or female, can learn that while it may be outwardly exhibited differently, true strength comes from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and is exhibited just as strongly by women as it is by men. I LOVE church history and the Book of Mormon and will always be grateful for the way the examples of others positively influences my own life. And I love you all too much!
I had an epiphany earlier this week. The epiphany came as a result of something I’ve always known, however, I didn’t fully understand. Even still I am not sure I fully understand.
It occurred to me that real faith can only be exhibited in darkness. If our path is lit and we can see clearly the next step, we do not need faith; we know what the next step will be.
God placed us here on earth to exercise faith. Yet sometimes when the path is dark, I find myself struggling to be happy and feel loved by God. But I know that faith is a necessary part of our loving Father in Heaven’s plan. I realized this week that I must cherish the opportunities to exercise faith. And instead of focusing my prayers solely on asking for the path to be lit, I need to also ask that my faith will be strengthened to endure the darkness.
I've been listening to a General Conference talk a lot lately entitled, "Latter-day Saints Keep on Trying." In fact, I even referenced it in a previous post. Today, I want to focus on a point made in that talk.
The comedy As You Like It, written by the English playwright William Shakespeare, depicts a dramatic change in a character’s life. An older brother attempts to have his younger brother killed. Even knowing this, the younger brother saves his wicked brother from certain death. When the older brother learns of this undeserved compassion, he is totally and forever changed and has what he calls a “conversion.” Later several women approach the older brother and ask, “Was’t you that did so oft contrive to kill [your brother]?”
I have been thinking a lot about how hard it is for me to see a person as anything else than what I have always known them. This can be as harmless as always treating my youngest sister as a baby :) or as detrimental as continually judging someone for past choices. My goal in life is to become more Christlike, and not allowing people to use the Atonement and become a new person in Christ hinders my progress in that goal. It has been even more powerful to think of this concept in reverse. Again, it could be as harmless as people remembering me when I was in 5th grade and was super fat (it's true, it was this stage thing I was in that was glorious). And I think to myself - "Wait! That's not me!" Or as hurtful as people remembering how callous and unloving I could be in my younger years (also a stage - but a much more detrimental one). It is particularly difficult for me when people still think of me in that light, because it is something I have put so much time and effort and prayer and thought into trying to fix.
My point in all of this is that perhaps we all need to be better about allowing others, and probably even ourselves, to become new. When someone has sincerely repented, turned from an old behavior, and tried to follow the example of their Savior in word or thought, we need to allow them and encourage them in that path. And that includes ourselves!
Christ said, "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more." In sticking with my ultimate life goal of becoming more Christlike, I know that I need to be better about seeing people as they are, and not for who they have been. I hope it's something we can all do a little better :) Love you too much!!!!!
Awake. Asleep. Moving. Playing. Again. Until it feels like a million little pieces of a wonderful life.
Days move quickly, time passes incoherently; mail checked, all fed, goodnight, good morning. through time and through generations. Do you ever wonder where it all began? Why we are all here? When it truly ends?
Most anything you can learn through reading. I go to the library almost daily for the many wonderful things offered for children and families. My son loves the library, I want him to love the library, but even more, I want him to love learning.
I believe we were planted here with the desire to learn so that we would search, read, ponder, discuss, pray, and find.
There was once a story about a man who wanted to cross the sea, but his ship needed light in the long hours of darkness the travel would encompass. In response to this need, and through fervent prayer, he was given light to bring with him through the darkness…that he might not cross the great sea on his own.
Through the mercy of God we have been given light in the darkness that we might not have to cross the great sea of life alone. I believe that He has given us the answer to the questions we all wonder, and I believe He wants all to feel His love through the words of His prophets, ever since the world began.
If you feel like you are crossing the deep alone, if you feel like you need a light, know that I have felt that way before as well, and I have found a light through the knowledge and understanding of reading and trying.
“And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
Messages of Faith
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