Whenever life throws challenges as life does, and even the challenges where it makes one feel like giving up. I can almost always count on that still small voice, the holy spirit to give me a gentle nudge, a reminder that there is a greater purpose in coming to christ. The almost is when I almost don’t listen.
A good reminding thought. As difficult it is to pray for people, and things that we dislike. Prayer recognizes no boundaries. Pray for the president of this country, or any other, pray for the people or person who have caused destruction, pray for our enemies, pray for that one person who causes us to hurt a lot. Pray a day to keep the misquotes away.
As we should know, feelings of equality are not for members of the Church alone. Equality when truly cultivated extends far beyond the boundaries of Church membership. True humility and meekness leads to a generosity of spirit that reaches to all of God’s children – everywhere. Also, we should know that equality in our personal character is in many ways based on understanding the true doctrine of Christ. President Boyd K. Packer taught: “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” The Savior drew upon the power of doctrinal truth to open our eyes and hearts. As members of the Lord’s Church, we should know that we are a congregation of equals. As in the Church in Alma’s day, the teacher is no better than the learner, the leader no better than those who are served. We each have individual interests and strengths, unique talents and gifts, and we have our share of weaknesses and foibles. The purpose of the Church is to make us better, to give us opportunities to fellowship with the Saints, and ultimately to bring us to Christ. In this regard, we are equal.
Absolutely a great read, I believe and support every word in this study
(BYU Religious Studies Center: Living the Book of Mormon “All Are Alike Unto God”)
Posted by Andy Proctor × January 13, 2014 at 4:30 am
I think most people don’t repent because they don’t really know what that word means. Well, here are 6 things that repentance does NOT mean. Too many people never experience the happiness that comes from repentance because they think THIS is what it DOES mean. With Inigo Montoya I say: “I do not think it means what you think it means.”
1. Unending Suffering
Repentance doesn’t mean that we will be suffering lashes forever. One of Satan’s big lies is that to repent of something, we will have to suffer and dig and gnash for an endless amount of time before we will finally be worthy.
This is NOT true!
How was Alma the older a wicked priest of Noah who spent his strength with harlots and taught that which was contrary to the law one day, and then 5 chapters later he was baptizing hundreds of people at the waters of Mormon? How was it that Ammon and the sons of Mosiah converted thousands of wicked Lamanites after being “the vilest of sinners” who were going about trying to destroy the church? Elder Jeffrey R. Holland clarifies this:
“You can change anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast. That’s another satanic suckerpunch—that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to repent. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say, “I’ll change”—and mean it.” 1
That’s it. If you want to change, you can do it as fast as you decide to (and truly mean it). And if you truly mean it, you WILL spend the rest of your life as a different person. No suffering for an eternity of pains-taken “repentance mess” but constantly experiencing the happiness of a new life, forever. Indeed, Ammon and the sons of Mosiah spent the rest of their lives proving that their moment of “I change” was really what they meant. And they also spent the rest of their lives experiencing TRUE JOY. Just read Alma chapter 26 for an example.
Repentance doesn’t mean guilt and suffering forever. Repentance means choosing joy.
This is what Satan wants. What does he say after Adam and Eve realize their nakedness? To isolate ourselves from God. To hide from Him. Why would we want to hide from God? If our heavenly Father is truly all-loving (which He is), then we NEVER need to isolate ourselves from Him. We only lose power when we withdraw from God. But He is there for the woman caught in adultery as well as for the Nephi. For Moses as well as for the vilest of sinners. We must come boldly to him whether we are tromping deep in the mud or high upon the mountain top of holiness. As Paul says:
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” 2
We are not to shrink and isolate ourselves in a time of need, but to go BOLDLY to the throne of grace in our time of sin – our time of need. Grace is not earned. Grace exists for those who DO NOT deserve it.
When you feel like isolating yourself from God…Go boldly to His throne.
3. Self Loathing
We are NOT to do what these silly monks did. No self flagellation. No self loathing. This is NOT repentance.
President Uchtdorf teaches this masterfully:
“The Apostle Paul taught that ‘godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation … but the sorrow of the world worketh death.’ Godly sorrow inspires change and hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Worldly sorrow pulls us down, extinguishes hope, and persuades us to give in to further temptation.
“Godly sorrow leads to conversion and a change of heart. It causes us to hate sin and love goodness. It encourages us to stand up and walk in the light of Christ’s love. True repentance is about transformation, not torture or torment. Yes, heartfelt regret and true remorse for disobedience are often painful and very important steps in the sacred process of repentance. But when guilt leads to self-loathing or prevents us from rising up again, it is impeding rather than promoting our repentance.” 3
Remember who you really are. Remember where you came from. Love yourself first, then you will naturally change what you are doing.
Why is there so much shame in being honest about our imperfections? Why is it scary? Why can’t we be more open? Why is there shame in sharing about our eternal progress. If angels rejoice when we decide to repent, then why not everyone else?
In my elder’s quorum last week our lesson was on overcoming addiction. We were all given a copy of the 12 Step Addiction Recovery Program. We started reading it together as a quorum. At the end the teacher asked if anyone had ever used this program and would like to share an experience.
Even more silence…
You know the feeling. No one wants to admit that they aren’t perfect or that they have ever had any problem with anything ever… Because everyone in every elder’s quorum and relief society is perfect. Especially returned missionaries. Right? Wrong.
Finally, a bold brother voluntarily shared his experience with this program. He wasn’t ashamed one bit. He had been addicted to pornography but had gone through the 12-step program to over come it. He powerfully testified how actually being honest with himself and going through the steps changed his life forever. It saved his marriage and it saved his life. The feeling in the room completely changed. The Spirit was so strong it was tangible. You could slice it with a knife. Then others started sharing and it became a brotherhood of love. It was a sacred experience that I will never forget. It was because one bold brother decided that it was not shameful to share the truth.
Don’t be ashamed to do something that will bring you closer to God. Don’t be one of those poor souls who taste the fruit and then walk away because they are ashamed from the pointers in the great and spacious building. Coming closer to God is NEVER something to be ashamed of.
There is no fear in love. For perfect love casteth out all fear. 4
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 5
Imagine yourself swimming in the ocean saying to yourself:
Don’t think about sharks.
Don’t think about sharks.
Don’t think about sharks.
What are you thinking about? SHARKS! And it is probably paralyzing you from actually focusing on swimming to safety. Even if the sharks are all around you, you still need to focus on the way out, not the sharks themselves.
Focus on the highest in you. Don’t focus on the sin. What has your attention, has you. True Repentance does NOT mean focusing on the sin.
Elder Packer said that instead of focusing our attention on the sin or the unwanted behavior, you focus the attention on doctrine and truth:
“The study of doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior.” 6
Let us follow Gordon B. Hinckley’s advice and “stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.” 7
6. Lack of true Conversion
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being an ordinary decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” 8
Without true conversion, we stay at the egg level. We must be hatched. We must progress. We must learn to fly. We weren’t born to stay eggs. We were born to fly. Elder Marion G. Romney taught about true conversion:
“Converted means to turn from one belief or course of action to another. Conversion is a spiritual and moral change. Converted implies not merely mental acceptance of Jesus and his teachings but also a motivating faith in him and his gospel. A faith which works a transformation, an actual change in one’s understanding of life’s meaning and in his allegiance to God in interest, in thought, and in conduct. In one who is really wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments.” 9
Desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually DIED. Wow. You not only want to discontinue any misdeeds you have been doing, but you desire to completely eradicate from your life all other things contrary to the gospel.
Take flight with true conversion. Take flight with true repentance.
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1.Jeffrey R. Holland. BYU Devotionals, “For Times of Trouble.” March 18, 1980. ↩
2.Hebrews 4:16 ↩
3.Dieter F. Uchtdorf. “You Can Do It Now.” Click here for the full talk. ↩
4.1 John 4:18 ↩
5.2 Tim 1:7 ↩
6.CR Oct 1986, 20 ↩
7.Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled. BYU Devotional, Oct 1974. ↩
8.Mere Christianity p. 198 – 199. ↩
9.Marion G. Romney. Conference Report, Guatemala Area Conference 1977, 8–9. ↩
Another one of those things that isn’t cut-and-dried as many may think, and I think we’ll be surprised who we will see in heaven. The Lord said, ” though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1.18-20) I know repentance can be a blissful experience.
These are just my thoughts. This has been circulating FB for the last few days, so I thought I’d respond on my own page. I think that although teachers and leaders can help in this situation, many times they are unaware as well. However, church leaders should be notifying parents if they are aware as I believe its the responsibility of the parent for their child’s bullying behavior toward others. Of course church leaders can work with parents on this, but no work can replace the work that happens in the home which I think has the greatest impact on a child. I’m aware that many families do not have ideal situations, some sicknesses, health problems and so on. However, I still believe it’s important for parents to question themselves such questions like, am I modeling any kind of bullying behavior? Or do I allow such behaviors slide? And many questions we should ask ourselves, as well as learning about what bullying consists of.
Bullying at Church
by Alison Moore Smith on July 18, 2007
It’s more than a little personal. It’s what I grew up with. I got bullied every single week at church from just a few weeks after I started kindergarten (when “Bob” moved into my ward), until I was a teenager. I got bullied until the day I realized that I didn’t have to put up with it and I refused to go back to church.
Bullying at ChurchIn my case, it was mostly Bob and those he rallied to silence if not to his side. But sometimes it was the girls, doing the “girl thing.” You know, inviting everyone else to join the Clique Claque Club or passing notes about how they didn’t want to be my friend anymore. Probably nothing out of the ordinary. And eventually one of the moms made them invite me to join the club. Probably after seeing me sit on the grass a few doors down staring longingly at the house during every weekly meeting. (How did I always know when and where the meeting was held?) Mostly it was that even my “gang” of friends never defended me from the Gang of Bob.
Yes, I got it from the same group at school, but for some reason I expected it there. At church, it was a constant source of confusion. The lessons we got, the answers they gave. The disconnect between knowing and doing was like the chasm in the Grand Canyon. Even the simple things like, “Be nice to the chubby girl with red hair and glasses at school” suddenly got really complex when the girl was sitting next to you in Senior Sunday School.
As far as I could tell, everyone knew. Bob wasn’t very slick in his methods of torment. I had rocks thrown at my head at the bus stop. Names like “fatso,” “four eyes,” “fireball,” “ugly” occurred about as often as I was within 18 feet of him. And he didn’t whisper. If he had to pass something to me, he would act nauseated. If he passed me in the hall I would get tripped or kicked or at least have some really hilarious insult thrown my way.
Then there were things like the pronouncement in front of the entire fourth grade when I was up to kick during the grade-wide kickball tournament that “Me and the boys all know you wear a bra, so don’t try to hide it anymore!!!” Not the biggest deal now, as an adult. But horrifying to the nine-year-old who was only the second girl in the grade to bear the signs of maturation. (My full sympathy goes out to Jill, who was the first.)
Or maybe it was the declaration that he’d rather miss the dance festival altogether than have to dance with me. (How in the world could the teacher have paired us up out of 100+ kids?) Then, when he didn’t show up and I had to sit on the curb, partnerless, during the festival we’d rehearsed two months for, he told everyone his family went on vacation that week just to prevent him from having the absolute humiliation of having to touch my hand during the Virginia Reel.
You know, stuff like that. For seven years straight. Until we got to junior high and the school was big enough that I could avoid him a good deal of the time during the week if I planned a careful, convoluted path to class and as long as I was careful on the walk home.
I Don’t Have to Go to a Church with Bullies!
One day it dawned on me that I didn’t have to go to church. No one could make me. I mean, I figured my parents could ground me or something, but I seriously doubted they’d drag me by my hair, kicking and screaming, into the chapel.
When I decided never to go back to church — where avoiding him was still impossible — only to face three hours of crap-under-the-auspices-of-gospel-learning, my very bright mother (who had tried to deal with the problem over the years) suggested I go to class with my big sister. After some consideration, I agree. I went with her for almost a year. The kids, all four years older, were so nice. At least that’s my recollection. Truth is, the fact that they said, “hello” instead of “hi ugly pig” meant, to me, that they were an amazing group.
When I was baptized and was going to be confirmed and presented to the ward, I pretended to be sick. I was sure that when they asked for the sustaining to accept me into the ward, that Bob would vote to reject me.
The autumn day that he was sustained as a deacon I was stunned. Behavior had nothing to do with it and I realized that no matter what he did, he would continue to move up the ranks, but because I was a girl, I could not. I was hopeless even to God.
When I learned they were going to split our ward when I was in junior high school, I prayed every night that, somehow, he could be in the other ward. And when it happened, I sat there on the folding chair in the back of the cultural hall and cried.
Grown Up Reflections
Years later I lived briefly in my “home ward” after college. I was called to teach and was attending a teachers’ fireside when an adult (who had been one of my teachers) briefly acknowledged some of the things that had happened.
Five years ago when I created the web site for our 20th high school reunion, one boy who had grown up in my ward wrote in his bio that he had stopped playing the piano because Bob had teased him so mercilessly about it. I privately responded, “Wow. You stopped playing piano. I competed in beauty pageants.” The ex-piano player responded that he was sorry for what I had gone through and any part he had played.
The treatment, apparently, wasn’t a secret.
So, why did it go on so long, completely unchecked? I have no answer for that.
Parenting a Bullied Child
In light of my experience, and realizing that I haven’t figured this out at all, I’d still like to share a couple of situations that I saw clearly resolved by strong leaders. Perhaps you can learn from their wisdom as I did.
Problems in Florida
In Florida I served in Young Women. Our Laurel class had about 18 girls, I think. Approximately four were various Hispanic, eight were Haitian, the rest were Caucasian. Amber and I started noticing some self-imposed segregation among the girls and it got more and more distinct. Then they started speaking in different languages so that the other girls couldn’t understand.
I was fussing and fuming and worrying and fasting and praying and giving special lessons and messages to help the girls “understand” stuff they already completely understood and were conversant about.
Finally Amber took matters into her own hands. She walked into class one Sunday and said, “What is this??? Black. Brown. White.” she said, pointing to each group. “That is unacceptable. Now mix it up!”
They did and it never happened again when I lived there. She didn’t muss and fuss. She didn’t make a racial tolerance magnet to stick on their lockers. She directly and clearly pointed out the problem to the offenders and told them it was unacceptable. Period.
Problems in Utah
When we moved to Eagle Mountain, my bubbly, outgoing nine-year-old was targeted by one particular girl in her class. It happened the first week we were here. There was no history.
We tried all the things I knew; all the things I had been told as a child:
◾Ignore her and she’ll get tired and stop.
◾Say something nice.
◾Say something funny.
◾Reason with her.
◾Use “I” language.
◾Make other friends.
◾Tell a leader.
Nothing worked and she did not get bored. (Which in hindsight shouldn’t have been surprising, since those things never worked for me, either.)
Over the years the situation grew. Every event became more painful — and Bobette was recruiting all the new move-ins to join along. Everything was fair game. Her height, her weight, her intelligence, her talents.
I had mentioned it to a few leaders, but nothing changed. I did not approach her parents because I was afraid doing so would only make it worse, as often happens. Either the parents deny the situation and then friction comes between the families or the child is disciplined and then the punished child retaliates against the other child. (My bully’s parents were informed. It didn’t help.)
One day last year, after living here for four years, my then 13-year-old daughter left mutual an hour early in tears after a series of degrading pictures were drawn of her and rude comments made.
My poor bishop happened to call our home to speak to Sam after I’d spent about 30 minutes consoling my daughter. I happened to answer the phone. He got an earful. Mostly he heard that the ward was unsafe for my children. They had moved here as happy girls who loved to bear their testimonies. After the 50th rejection, after being openly mocked for their testimonies, and after being treated cruelly so often, they were different children. He had long known about the “issues” with the Young Women (as had the previous bishop). And I asked him why I was supposed to require my children to attend church meetings and functions when no one was requiring decent behavior.
When I finished blubbering I gave the phone to my husband. The bishop promised that action would be taken.
A couple of weeks later, the same daughter (by far my most sociable child) was home early again. Swearing never to return. “Bobette” had not only continued the usual round of nastiness, exclusion, and ganging up, but she had threatened to “beat the crap out of” my daughter, about three inches from her face, and about two yards from the chatting circle of Young Women leaders — who said nothing at all.
When she got home, we were beside ourselves. Sam called one of our daughter’s leaders who had been there and left an intense voice mail, asking why nothing was done.
This particular incident was so blatant that, unbeknownst to us, some of the usually silent bystanders actually complained about the situation to the leaders. (She had been mean to a number of other girls that night and they were indignant. My daughter’s situation made the best case against the bully.) The response was, “You mean she was serious?” They had been assuming all these years, that no child would really be that mean in front of the leaders. It must have been a joke.
DaNae, one of the leaders who had heard the whole incident (and brushed it off as a joke), drove immediately to our home. (She hadn’t even gotten our voice mail.) She asked about the incident. She asked about past incidents. She asked about the duration. She was stunned. She had no idea. She borrowed my copy of Odd Girl Out.
We talked until after 3:00 am. She wanted to take action I was worried about the outcome. She took full responsibility for both the past behavior and the resolution even though she had officially been released the week Sunday before. She would, she said, resolve it.
The next day she went met personally with the mother and father of the main bully and laid out the situation. She confirmed what had been happening and made it clear that the behavior would not be tolerated. Then I got a call from the mother. When I saw her name on caller ID, I was so scared to answer it. But I did, and she wanted a meeting. She didn’t sound happy. I wasn’t either.
A couple of days later, the girl, the mom, and the dad showed up for a dual-family meeting. The girl burst into tears and apologized. The parents said they would not allow it to continue. They were also enrolling her in anger management classes. They apologized themselves and told us that they had not known about it at all ?and that they wished I had contacted them sooner.
Bullying Miracles – Seriously
The real miracle part of the story, I cannot explain. Somehow these good parents not only accepted responsibility for their daughter’s behavior, but they taught her in a way that changed her heart. Immediately, her public and private behavior toward my daughter made a 180 degree turnaround. And church changed from a dreaded experience, to one that my daughter looks forward to with great anticipation. A year later the two could be considered, at least, distant friends.
Thanks to these parents and a Young Women leader who was willing to take direct action, my daughter’s life was completely reversed.
I commend those leaders who take bullying seriously and deal with it without equivocation.