Monday, July 13, 2009

Pioneers, Charity, and Forgiveness

I really enjoyed church yesterday. We went to bed pretty late, and so I assumed that I would be nodding off throughout the three hours of meetings, but I didn't.

In sacrament meeting, the talks were on pioneers. The first speaker actually referred to pioneers in the sense that we can all be pioneers, based on the definition "one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress". As she spoke, I thought of the book No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around our gay loved ones, and how Carol Lynn Pearson uses the "pioneer" theme in her book. Some people have said that Scott and I (and others of you, as well) are pioneers when it comes to attitudes in the church regarding gay issues. The other talk was about the actual pioneers that we think of in July, and I am always intrigued listening to pioneer stories, reminded of the faith and sacrifices and suffering of the early members of the church. I could never have handled the things they had to go through.

In Sunday School there was an interesting discussion about unrighteous dominion (D&C 121:39--“almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, … will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion”) and Scott found it very ironic when someone commented that we (as the church or members of the church) should not force our religious beliefs on others. Huh, imagine that. Also, the teacher spoke a lot about pride and of not judging others. I thought it was a very nice lesson.

In Relief Society, the lesson was on charity, and it was exactly what I needed.

I have been losing my temper a lot lately, and all it accomplishes is hurting me and those I love, and nothing else. I was frustrated with my children a lot last week (how many weeks until school starts again? :), and Scott had to come home to an ornery and crying wife every night! I also was offended over something that happened with regards to Scott's family (specifically, plans that were made with out of town family members in which we were not invited, and my children were sad that they will not be spending more time with their cousins this week.) The icing on the cake was another major blow-up with a Moho friend, and I fear that this time there is no hope of repair.

The entire lesson was wonderful, about service and Christ-like love for others, but a scripture on charity in Moroni 7:45 and one final quote, really got to me.

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

Elder Marvin J. Ashton beautifully observed: “Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.” (from “The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword,” Ensign, May 1992, 19)
Sometimes I am able to really nail the hymns I choose to go with the lesson, and the songs were very touching to me this time. The third verse of "Each Life That Touches Ours for Good" really hit home.

(Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no. 293)
1. Each life that touches ours for good
Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord;
Thou sendest blessings from above
Thru words and deeds of those who love.

2. What greater gift dost thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know
Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.

3. When such a friend from us departs,
We hold forever in our hearts
A sweet and hallowed memory,
Bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee.

4. For worthy friends whose lives proclaim
Devotion to the Savior’s name,
Who bless our days with peace and love,
We praise thy goodness, Lord, above.

I hope and pray that my Heavenly Father will help me to do better, but I also recognize that He is pleased with me for my efforts, and I am grateful that I can be forgiven of the things I said in the heat of the moment. I just hope that someday this friend can forgive me as well.

For the closing song, we sang "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief", no.29. I was sad that we did not have time to sing the whole thing, so we sang verses 1, 2 and 7. Verse 7 really touched my heart as we sang (as it does every time I sing it or hear it).

1. A poor, wayfaring Man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not pow’r to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love; I knew not why.

2. Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
He entered; not a word he spake,
Just perishing for want of bread.
I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, but gave me part again.
Mine was an angel’s portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
The crust was manna to my taste.

7. Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
“Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”

Saturday night, other MoHo friends dropped in to visit, and they were a God-send. I felt so much better after talking to them and spending some fun time with them. I have always found that God is mindful of each of us, and even when times are hard, there are methods to the madness, and something else will be better because of it. I am reminded of the quote from The Sound of Music: "When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window." I have found this to be so true throughout my life.

Thank you for sticking with me through this rambling post. It has helped me to work through some thoughts and feelings, which I am sure will help to heal my heart.


Ned said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. Loss is difficult. There's no way around it. I'm glad you've sought the vision to see how you are blessed in many ways even as disappointments take their toll. I can somehow hear Scott's deep, calm voice soothing you, as he has done for all of us through his blog and his prayers on our behalf. You two ARE pioneers, there's no doubt about that in my mind. You have not had to literally bury a loved one on the trek to an unknown destination, but just as lost family members will be reunited, I take comfort in the belief that eventual peace and reconciliation are possible. A great great grandfather of mine arrived with the first pioneer company in this valley in 1847. But a great, great, great grandfather died in Nauvoo seven years earlier. He did not live to see the Saints make the desert blossom as a rose, but his dedication and sacrifices were not vain. We can't know the impact we will have on generations to come, but we can keep trying to make the world we do live in a bit better by the lives we lead. I know you, Scott and your children are doing this and hope you, too, can catch a glimpse of it from time to time.

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

You are such an amazing person, Sarah! (An amazing pioneer, in fact:) I can relate with you--in the past couple of weeks, I too have been short-tempered and unpleasant to be around. Thanks for sharing such a meaningful post.