Last year, I read an article that has forever changed the way I think. It was in the Chaplain’s Corner of the PCH Newsletter I receive every couple of weeks. It was a simple question that was posed, “When was the last time you allowed someone to change?”
It’s easy to peg people as “this kind of person” or “that kind of person.” I’m guilty of this all the time. I rely on my own perceptions or even worse, other’s perceptions on situations, people or personalities that I don’t even know well myself or with whom I have had limited interactions.
Yesterday, I was reminded of a situation in my life in which I haven’t really been able to let someone become anyone but the thoughtless, heartless person I had pegged them as after a poor interaction which led to significant family challenges including family members being forced to distance themselves from our church congregation. You see, for my brother, all it takes is one poor interaction and he doesn’t really recover from it. He can’t recover from it. (Not won’t.) That’s autism for you.
Anyway, as I listened to the brethren via satellite broadcast talk of sabbath day observance, Elder Cook (or maybe it was Elder Bednar) who said, we have to be particularly mindful of those who may, for whatever reason be in the foyer. Deacons must make sure that those in the foyer have the opportunity to partake of the sacrament as well. In that instant, my eyes welled up with tears. This was the precise situation which had made it so Craig could no longer attend our singles ward, he was told that he needed to be in the chapel to receive the sacrament, not in the foyer.
The first thing I felt was compassion. Compassion from a Heavenly Father who knows no boundaries but our own distance from unrepentant sin. Compassion that He knew the situation perfectly. That He loved by brother with all his won’ts and can’ts and wills and cans. The second thing I felt was sadness. Sadness that this hadn’t been understood more compassionately by my local leaders and sadness that the ordinance of the sacrament isn’t available to my brother (there’s more to this story but it involves more careless comments). The third thing I felt was sadness for myself that I hadn’t quite gotten over it as fully as I had thought I had. There was still room for more repentance, more forgiveness, more divine intervention.
In Sunday School yesterday we talked of Lehi’s dream. Lehi’s dream has long been one of my most favorite stories in the scriptures. I can always find myself in Lehi’s dream and it’s always a good self-assessment story. One member of the class commented that all the people, everyone had to pass through the mists of darkness which symbolize the temptations of the adversary, on their way to the tree of life. Isn’t that true for each of us. We are here on a mortal sojourn back to the tree, back home to gain eternal life with God. But we too must pass through mists of darkness and continually hold to the rod of iron. We can get lost, our perception of the things that matter and those things that don’t can get warped. We can get confused. We can focus too much on the wrong things. We can get stuck in only seeing somethings in a particular way. Mists can blind us physically and spiritually. I’m so grateful that God can help us see through the mist. He provides the rod of iron. He helps us discern the mist and recognize it for what it is and help us know where it is that we must turn for help, support and guidance.
2016 is all about course corrections. It’s intentionally seeing things the way they are and intentionally acting to be more consistent with the things that I know. I’m not perfect. I fall short. I stumble. But I know that nothing compares to the strength available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. With him, course corrections are always possible!