Sunday, March 29, 2015

Do I Really?

We are challenged to daily evolve and become more Christ like in our natures, our decisions, our life.  I use the word evolve because the change that takes place in us as we choose to become Christlike is a growth.  It is a time-consuming event that does not happen in one day but over time as we strengthen our testimonies and desires to life the Gospel.

As I sat in preparation for this weeks blog I thought to my self, what can I say to those who read that will make an impact that may help them in their lives, and what can I study for myself that I too will grow and be better and strengthen.  I watched last night an episode on CNN called finding Christ.  This episode discussed Judas and his betrayal to the Lord, but it also brought note of the great love Christ had for Judas even in knowing that he was betrayed.  It made me think of when Christ was on the cross.  There were many who treated him so badly, and his heart and mind as well as his body must have surely been hurt to the point of unbearable grief, yet his prayer was forgive them father for they know not what they do.  Is it not also true in our everyday lives, that there are many who know not what they do, for one can hardly know without a true testimony.  Even those among us including ourselves, most likely know not what we do until a lesson is taught to us and we then gain a missing perspective.  This thinking led me to  View Matthew 5:

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitfully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect"

So I asked myself, "who are mine enemies?"  and I knew immediately who they were for I have struggled with them greatly.

I don't hate my enemies on the contrary I love them, very much so, yet I am afraid of them for the pain they cause me is unbearable.  My enemies are someone I gave my heart to and trusted and accepted as my family, they are someone whom I loved and would do anything for; yet they curse me, and hate me, they lie about me and to me, they hurt my children and family, they make me feel like trash, and when they are near I am lowly to the point of physically keeping my head bowed while sitting in a corner, and I, I am afraid of them. Even at my age of 49 I feel as if I am being bullied and backed into a corner.  Yet my prayers are for them, they are for us both.  I wish them no harm and truly pray for their needs yet I can't talk to them and be around them so I asked myself, " am I truly loving my enemies?"

I read in 1 Samuel 25,  where David demonstrated that he would be kind to Saul, who had tried to kill him then later David and his men asked for some supplies from a man named Nabal; Nabal treated them rudely. In response, David and his men prepared to attack. Nabal’s wife, Abigail, heard about what was happening and acted wisely to keep David from attacking and killing her husband. In the process, David realized his revengeful actions were not right. A short time later, Nabal died and the problem was solved anyway. After Nabal’s death, David married Abigail as one of his wives.

Then I was listening to a conference talk by Howard W Hunter where he said: “How are we supposed to act when we are offended, misunderstood, unfairly or unkindly treated, or sinned against? What are we supposed to do if we are hurt by those we love, or are passed over for promotion, or are falsely accused, or have our motives unfairly assailed?“Do we fight back? Do we send an ever-larger battalion? Do we revert to an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, or … do we come to the realization that this finally leaves us blind and toothless?” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 23; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 18).

After reading these I realized that I was not so bad, I wished them no harm, I do them no wrong, If they call or need me I am there, and I say nothing about the hurt, pan and anguish.  When I have to see them or they are in need of my help, I always hope that this is the time when things shall pass and we can once again be family.  So yes I say that I do love my enemies but am I wrong because I can't be around them, because I don't call them or visit them, as when I do things go south in a hurry; so I further studied. 
I decided to visit the church website, and I put in the search engine Bullying.  I did this because I do feel, even at my age, that I have been bullied and it does continue on certain levels.  I have been a victim of bullying since grade school so I am no newcomer to it and the feelings are the same, so I thought there might be some insight with this search.  What I found made me know that the spirit does work and talk to us in all answers we desire. 

The article I read had advice on what to do if your being bullied, and though geared for youth I felt it was most important in adult life too.  It says, "if your being bullied to try to appear calm and confident. Try not to react, because a reaction is what most bullies are hoping for. First try to simply walk away.  To walk away from trouble is not a sign of weakness."  By this I felt that I am not wrong in staying away, I am simply avoiding explosive, hurtful situations that can cause more trouble.  When needed I am there and act in a loving Christlike manner to the best of my ability, but I try to avoid all situations that have the potential to be bad.  So in this sense I feel that yes I do love my enemies but can I do better?  The next section I read answered my question. 

Forgiving a bully does not mean thinking that what he or she did was okay. Nor does it mean you shouldn’t stick up for yourself or that you should pretend the bullying never happened. Forgiving does mean letting go of feelings of bitterness and anger—feelings that will damage you far more than they will affect the bully. The Lord said, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10).

And so I had my answer.  I need to let go of the hurt and pain, that's where my fault lies.  The bitterness at what was done to me and still continues to be done to me is so hurtful and I've held onto that hurt for far too long.  If I am truly going to follow Christ as I wish to do, then I must let it go and Let God.......

I must rely on the Savior. His love, and the knowledge that I am a child of Heavenly Father, is my greatest source of self-worth. The Savior knows what it’s like to be beaten and spit upon, but He never forgot who He is—the Son of God. Because of the Atonement, He understands perfectly the hurt I feel, and He can heal me. And now my prayers will indeed be for that healing. 

Not only though, will my prayers be for my own healing but they will be also for my enemies healing and for me to be a better Christian.  It will be my prayer that I will hopefully never hurt anyone as I have been hurt and that I will be more mindful of myself while working and living in the world in terms of how I act, what I say and what I do.  We are in the last days after all, and satan is at his best; it is my prayer that we lean not to his cunning ways. 

“It should come as no surprise that one of the adversary’s tactics in the latter days is stirring up hatred among the children of men. He loves to see us criticize each other, make fun or take advantage of our neighbor’s known flaws, and generally pick on each other. …

“When we truly become converted to Jesus Christ, committed to Him, an interesting thing happens: our attention turns to the welfare of our fellow-man, and the way we treat others becomes increasingly filled with patience, kindness, a gentle acceptance, and a desire to play a positive role in their lives.” —Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915–94), of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword,” Ensign , May 1992, 19, 20.

Today my new leaf turns and my prayers being for healing, and as I heal I hope they too will heal.  For you my friends that are reading, I wish you the same, rely on the savior for all your needs.  Let us strive daily to become more like our Savior.  Just imagine what the world will be like when we all do.....

With Love,
Dixie Dawn

Sunday, March 8, 2015

I Was Just Thinking.....

I was thinking last week that I needed to write a blog entitled "Mormon Dictionary" Because although we as Mormons share with other Christian faiths a vocabulary of biblical terms, we also have a diverse language of our own and sometimes even those who are members don't fully understand some meanings.   I would include those words and phrases that are very and most times uniquely Latter-Day Saint that sometimes have a more in-depth meaning such as free agency, foreordination, plan of salvation, patriarchal blessing, and my personal favorite eternal perspective.

I chose eternal perspective as my favorite "Mormon word" because even the flow of it from the mouth seems to ring out a sound of hope and escape from a world of death and pain.  We are taught, as we come to baptism and membership in the church to think not worldly, or presently, but eternally; that we might develop an eternal perspective to comfort and strengthen us in our daily living until our work upon this earth is done.  How peaceful the thought.... life is not just today or tomorrow, it is, forever....

After thinking about that, and how those two words seem to flow into one, I googled the word perspective just to see what came up and this is what particularly struck me of the several definitions:  "Perspective, a true understanding of the relative importance of things..."  Then I googled the word eternal and got " valid for all time; essentially unchanging..." If we put the two meanings together to fit our word we have, "eternal perspective: a true understanding of the relative importance of things that are unchanging, and valid for all time."  Next I "Mormoniszed it and this is what wI came up with: "eternal perspective: a true understanding and knowledge of the relative importance of the gospel of Jesus Christ which is unchanging and valid for all time."  I say then that this is not only a beautiful Mormon word, but indeed a very important one, one that stems from our core.

As Latter-day saints we belive in forever, and as we grow in our knowledge of the gospel,  it should be our goal to conduct our lives on earth in a forever manner.  Eternal life, when considering an eternal perspective is the greatest of all gifts from God.  It is reserved for those who believe and obey.  It is our hope of a better life to come that enables us to stand against the trials and temptations of the world.  When we gain an eternal perspective of where we come from, why we are here and what lies ahead, we are able to better govern our choices while here on earth.

After pondering these things and this word I'd chosen as my favorite, I thought about myself.  When Sunday comes I am in that thinking mode.  Its time to keep the day holy, to make good choices, to ready myself for spiritual enlightenment.  I gear up for a day of service and love and make my choices based on the eternal principles that I know to be true.  But, what about the rest of the week.  What is it like when I walk out of this building following the meetings and go out into the world to make preparing ourselves to return to Heavenly Father.  What are my thoughts like when faced with decision-making throughout the work week. When faced with big challenges and choices I always remember what I've learned.  I  call upon the Lord and fast and pray and find a way with the help of the Savior to make the right decision, one that will have a positive impact not only in this life but the life to come.   My question for myself then was what about the other choices, how do I react in my day-to-day interactions, are the choices I make, even the little ones,  in keeping with that eternal perspective?  It as while thinking about this and searching and studying that I found a story.....

A certain man, having lived a long and productive life, was getting ready to meet his Maker. One night he had a dream during which he was told that because he had been generous with his considerable worldly wealth he would be permitted to take his most valued possession with him when he passed on to the other world. The next morning, the old man set out to put his affairs in order. He liquidated his assets and gave half of all he had to charities and other good purposes. The other half he had converted into gold bars. Upon his death, Saint Peter met him and welcomed him to his new home. But when he noticed the large and heavy bag that the man was carrying, Saint Peter reminded him that no one could bring any earthly goods with them to this place. The old man described his dream and indicated that he had been given special permission to bring this treasure with him.  “Okay,” said Saint Peter, “if you have permission. But may I see what you chose as your greatest treasure?” When Saint Peter looked into the bag, he stepped back in amazement and questioned, “For your treasure you brought pavement?”

This story is all about how things can be seen while here on earth.  And when thinking about it are we at many times not unlike this man waiting at the pearly gates with his bags of gold.  As humans, we tend sometimes, to cling to things and ideas that seem so valuable and important, yet in the end, may really be quite worthless.  It is very important that we not assume the perspectives of mortality in making decisions that bear our eternity. We need to understand that we cannot do the Lord's work in the worlds way.  If we really believe that God is real, it should begin to change, or determine all of our thinking, and even the small choices can begin to be made with an eternal perspective.

The scriptures can teach us so much about keeping an eternal perspective in our day-to-day interactions and one story that sticks out in my mind is that of Esau in Genesis Chapter 25.  When reading about him, we learn that arriving home one day from a hunting expedition, a famished Esau longed for his brother’s food. “Feed me, I pray thee,” Esau pled (Gen. 25:30). Jacob agreed, but for a price: his brother’s birthright. The scripture says, “Esau despised his birthright” (Gen. 25:34).  and he says, upon request to sell it, "Behold I am at the point to die, what profit shall this birthright do to me?"  If by this Esau saw his birth right as pertaining only to this life, he did not have an eternal perspective which then influenced his choice most negatively.  So let us then ask ourselves daily, are we too selling our birthright with our choices?  Do we have an eternal perspective and does it influence all of our choices, or do we fall for the things of the world forgetting the Lord?

When we remember the Lord and keep the end goal im mind we gain great blessings, gifts and strength.  Daily as we choose with an eternal perspective, we will be blessed and comforted.  We will gain respect for the integrity of our steadfastness in gospel center choices such as not cursing, choosing our activities with care, and watching our temper.  We will have better health in living the word of wisdom, we will gain a personal peace in making and keeping sacred covenants with temple attendance,  Our homes will be a haven as we make them a place where the Lord can dwell.  The service we give to others through magnifying our church callings or otherwise will bring us knowledge and healing.  And Temporal trials, set backs or struggles become an opportunity to develop soul power.  In keeping an eternal perspective with our choices we gain great strength and forge through adversity developing faith that is life changing, that is strong and forever.
As most of you know I have identified myself as a connoisseur of trials.  I have personally lived through struggles that I belive no one should have to go through,  and that I thought I would never survive but when keeping my thoughts upon eternity my choices through these times became different from that of the world and I did survive, in fact I am a new person today because of them.  I really don't want to live through those trials again, but I am truly grateful for the teaching they gave me on keeping my eyes upon eternity always.  Now, my goal is to make my everyday choices even better and to treat them as I do the big things and make a choice based upon eternalness.  When I get cut off in Dallas traffic, when I work with someone who is difficult, when I am aggravated with things at home, when I am faced with temptations of being lax or lazy, when I am depressed and broken-hearted over the challenges of life, It will be my goal to remember to make the choices for the day, for the moment, with an eternal perspective; to choose the right, to choose for eternity and not the world.

It is my desire today, that your favorite Mormon word might to become eternal perspective.  That we may all become more determined to live by Heavenly Father's plan using our moral agency to make decisions based on truth and not on worldly standards.  That as we all draw farther from worldliness we will feel closer to Father in Heaven and more able to be guided by his spirit.

President Spencer W Kimball said, : If we live in such a way that the considerations of eternity press upon us, we will make better decisions."

My prayer is that not one of us will show up with pavement....

With Love, Dixie

Sunday, March 1, 2015

But I Only....

Before reading the next phrases insert the word But at the beginning....

I only got drunk because she broke my heart.  I only cheated because he was abusive,  I only stole it because I really needed it.   Its only one rated R movie what can it hurt.  Work doesn’t pay me what they should so I’ll just take it out in trade.  I only curse while in traffic.  I’m so tired I’ll just skip church this one time.  Repentance is for sinners my acts were justified.  I am strong I can do this on my own, I don’t need God……..

Thought for the day:  We cannot hide any act of our lives from ourselves or from the Lord.   As prerequisites to forgiveness, there must first be recognition, remorse, then confession.  “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” In addition to recognizing our sins, we must feel sincere sorrow for what we have done. We must feel that our sins are terrible. We must want to unload and abandon them.

I previously spoke of Godly sorrow and the need to abandon my sins, but how did it come to that, what was the process to bring me to such Godly sorrow?  It was not an easy road I can tell you that.  I spent many of my days in the past with a chip on my shoulder.  Everywhere I went I felt others were judging me for my actions.  I would never be able to measure up because of my sins, they would forever follow me and I am as dirt.  At one point I even stopped going to church because I felt if I walked in the door I wouldn’t be welcomed and it would be awkward because I am the black sheep, I am the sinner and everyone knows it.  I suffered greatly for many years and  turned to even more sin as well as embracing beliefs I didn’t understand to try to escape.

I became entangled in a web satan had weaved for me with negative and false thinking coupled with depression and fear.  I found myself spending my days fighting to make people believe that I was respectable and a good person. I always found myself in awkward circumstances and conversations of worldliness and I continually worked as either a beggar to have people believe I was a good girl, or as a fighter to save my reputation.  When all the time, the truth was, I was really fighting only me…..

I had a knack of excusing away my choices. And though the things I said to myself were indeed true, for I really was having a hard time I really was hurting and suffering and needed to do something.  The fact remained that I made the choices of my life, and I could not push them away with an excuse or blame.  I knowingly disobeyed my Father in Heaven and until I admitted that to myself, the merry-go-round would not stop and satan would continue to wrap me up as his trophy.

I was literally physically exhausted from the fight and because I fought so hard it effected my well-being.  I developed health troubles and had many trips to the hospital; I became an emotional roller coaster.  I worried to the point that I feared even my own children could not love me because I was such a bad person; and I know they grew weary of hearing me apologize and excuse myself for being a bad mother and person. And while its true that many people did know of some of my more serious transgressions, the fact remains that most did not; yet I was too focused on hiding my sins from myself, and making myself belive that I was justified, to realize how things really worked.  I was spinning out of control and had to make a change, if I did not, the thought of what could happen to me was terrifying for I had even contemplated suicide.

Reality Check:  “There is no royal road to repentance, no privileged path to forgiveness. Every man must follow the same course whether he be rich or poor, educated or untrained, tall or short, prince or pauper, king or commoner”- Spencer W Kimball

It is said that the first step in the road to recovery from addiction is admitting.  That proves to be no different on the road to repentance.  We must admit to ourselves that we have sinned. If we do not admit this, we cannot repent.  Whether it is a sin of great seriousness, a sin of omission, or willful  disobedience, we cannot seek forgiveness until we admit to ourself and Heavenly Father that we have erred.

“Let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance. … Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point” (Alma 42:29–30) The scriptures advise us further not to justify our sinful practices (Luke 16:15–16).

I found some of the greatest relief of my life, when I wrote in my journal of my sins.  Yes I wrote the circumstances and I wrote all the things that surrounded why I made the choices, but I did not excuse the fact that I had offended the one person who had never left me, never hurt me, that gave me all that I needed and more.  I had offended my Father in Heaven.

It was not easy to admit to myself that I had been wrong.  The pain of those transgressions caused a heavy suffering of my heart and soul that was near unbearable.  But when I went to the Lord with them, that acknowledgement brought me a measure of peace and I knew that I had come home. When I was willing to give away my sins and follow him, I came to know God.  I began to understand that the Savior gave His life for us and suffered for our sins so that if we believed on his name and repented we would not have to carry that burden.  Each time I ignored what I had done, I trampled all that he died for, I threw away the gift.  So I followed the promptings from my intense prayers and fessed up thus, beginning my road to forgiveness.  

I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” Psalms 32:5

One of the best things we can do for ourselves is admitting when we are wrong and seek to make it right, that does not however, give us full throttle to beat ourselves up.  The Savior suffered so that we would not have to, the first step in accepting that gift is admitting our sin.  But we cannot let satan make us believe there is no hope.  We must stay strong and stay with God.

There is comfort and peace in admitting our mistakes, let us take note as we work through our days to  things we need to repair.

There is hope with repentance, let us then find ourselves in mighty prayer following the will of the Lord.

With Love, Dixie

Please join me next week for this series of blogs concerning the principles of repentance and my personal story of the road to safety and peace....