Friday, August 21, 2009

Awesome things

Similar to the movie Julie and Julia, I was directed toward a blog where some savvy blogger out there is attempting to record 1000 awesome things, one per day. A great way to try and look at the positive things in life. They are very amusing and definitely a 'lift your spirits' type read.

If you are fans of How I Met Your Mother's Barney Stinson then you will will appreciate this site just a little more than those who are not:

http://1000awesomethings.com/

P.S. - I haven't left Part 2 of 'Guilty Bad People' behind but have just been really busy lately. I will attempt to get it up (that's for you Wes) on the site this weekend.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A careful discussion of the guilty bad people…(Part 1)

So this blog was, you guessed it, once again inspired by Tara. Thank you Tara for being brave enough to voice your thoughts and inspire deep thought and reflection for me. Studying about guilt alone has been quite inspiring. That sounds funny.
I first thought about the difference between guilt and being guilty. I am going to attempt to highlight differences between being guilty of man’s laws and God’s laws. I am not totally sure how all of this is going to come out in writing but hopefully the stars will align and it will all make sense.
Webster’s actually does a pretty good job:
· Main Entry: guilt
· Pronunciation: \╦łgilt\
· Function: noun
1 : the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty; broadly : guilty conduct
2 a : the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously
2b : feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy : self-reproach
3 : a feeling of culpability for offenses

In my eyes, I think most people do not combine the 'feeling' of guilt with being guilty, even though, as outlined above they are essentially the same; one being a feeling and the other being a state as in 2a and 2b above. I think that most of us err in that we have turned the ‘feeling’ of guilt automatically into feelings of shame and inadequacy, I for sure do. I find it interesting while the state of being guilty is pretty black and white, even though our current legal system likes to insert as much grey as possible, the ‘feeling’ of guilt is entirely dependent upon the person, essentially a choice.
In order to feel guilty about something you have to first believe in a law. People who are citizens in a country must abide by the laws of the land but does not have to 'feel' guilty if they break of any of those laws. A person who robbed a bank will hopefully be found guilty of breaking the law but may not actually 'feel' guilty for breaking it. Are you following me so far???
This is the same with God’s laws. If God made them then they are what God made them, no one else can change them, and they apply to everyone for whom God is a ‘ruler’ (for lack of a better word); so everyone.
The difference with God’s laws, for those that do not have a man-made law counterpart anyway, is that when you break them the police are not going to come and throw you in God jail. Not in this life at least. So we can skip over how a person is determined to be guilty until later (Part 2). For now I want to focus on the 'feelings' of guilt since that is what we face here in this life.
In order for us to even have feelings of guilt for not following God’s laws, not necessarily feelings of shame or inadequacy (we will get to that in a moment) we first have to believe in God’s laws. Realizing this helped me see this scripture in a different light:

And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center. 1Nephi 16:2.

In order to understand my point we need to break this down. I believe that in order for someone to be ‘wicked’ they need to 'commit' a sin and not just sin in ignorance. Knowingly committing a sin that you know to be true is very different than unknowingly disobeying God’s commands. (Keep in mind that while Nephi is speaking to his brothers he does not actually call them wicked, he merely refers to the ‘wicked’ in a broader almost conceptual term, we will also cover that more in Part 2.) Therefore if a person knowingly commits a sin, then he understands that a law is true and right, thus qualifying him for being found guilty. If a person does not know the law to be true, he cannot knowingly commit a sin, which means he cannot be ‘wicked’ and therefore not found guilty. This by no means qualifies them for salvation but we are not discussing salvation, we are just talking about being guilty. In my eyes what Nephi is saying in the last line is, those that know the law and still choose to disobey have a hard time being reminded of the truth because they know they are guilty of breaking the commandments.
So once we understand the law and are qualified for being found guilty, the feelings of guilt begin to creep in. We all know that they creep in because none of us our perfect, which means we all know at least some portion of the law, and we all make mistakes, therefore we are all guilty of something.

Before we all go and jump off of a cliff this is pretty much the whole point of this part of the discussion…

Remember earlier I mentioned that I think that most of us associate the ‘feelings of guilt’ with feeling of shame or inadequacy? If not then start over. If you do, then ask yourself this question. Does your Father in Heaven want you to feel guilt/shame/or inadequate? Go ahead and take a moment to think. I'll wait…

My answer is no, of course he does not want us to feel those feelings. (I personally believe that those feelings are actually tools of the person at the opposite end of the spectrum.) Which tells me that it is our choice how we 'feel'. We recognize the sin we have committed and choose to have those 'feelings' of guilt. It is hard to try and translate those feelings into some other descriptor other than shame or inadequacy, at least it is for me. It is almost as if for a split second right after we come to the realization that we are guilty that is the moment of the 'feeling' of guilt comes and we have the opportunity to choose how that is going to affect us. We can choose to feel shame/sorrow/self-loathing/inadequacy and on and on and on. Or we can look forward with an eye of faith. Faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body? I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works are the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth? Alma 5: 15-16

I believe this scripture applies to those that recognize their sins and immediately draw upon the powers of the atonement and begin the repentance process, not out of fear or even loyalty but out of love for their God and their desire to do all that he asks. This is by no means a flip of a switch. It is a process, a refining fire, and is between you, the Lord and if need be a priesthood leader.
To view the other side of this coin, read vs. 17 and 18 of the same chapter. (I won't be typing that one, I gotta encourage you to open up the scritptures somehow.) In the margins of this section I wrote, ‘Looking backward requires no faith’ and ‘The guilty dwell upon the past, The repentant look forward to the day of salvation’.
In my previous post I talked about two men who were guilty of breaking the commands of God. They descibed themselves after applying the atonement of Christ in their lives as ‘my guilt was swept away’ and ‘I could remember my pains no more’. I know that to be true so that when we come to the judgement bar of God we can stand as Alma suggests we can see ourselves stand now.
I make my final point in Part one in looking at the resurrection itself as taught by Amulek to Zeezrom in Alma Chapter 11:

The spirit and the body shall be reunited in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt. Verse 43

Ask yourself how Alma the younger or Enos would feel as they stood before God after their guilt and pains were gone. Would they be returned to them at the judgement bar? I believe that the atonement of Christ literally cleared them of any guilt and that they could stand before God spotless, because of the redeeming power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. So in theis verse I hear Alma teaching us that the unrepentant will have a bright recollection of all their guilt.

And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else. Verse 40

For those that truly believe on his name they do not dwell upon their guilt but rather look forward with faith, applying the atonement and continue on in their life striving to obey the commandments.
So the question becomes when we here ourselves saying, ‘that makes me feel guilty’ stop and ask yourself why you are choosing to let feelings of guilt into your heart and instead ask yourself how can you apply the atonement to instead feel your heart with faith and love.

Part 2 coming soon...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why I blog

My next blog, the one coming after this one, is once again spurred through someone else which is why I wanted to write this one first. I want to be sure and explain that I feel my blogs are more for me then for other people. In Kindra's words (I got in a little trouble not giving her credit for the whole 'Sunday Night dinner discussion' reference that was her idea) this is really killing three birds with one stone: studying the scriptures, keeping at least a journal of somekind, and keeping in touch with family (three things I kind of suck at). So in other words I write these things down for me, but the fact that I know other people are going to read this and comment on it provides the motivation for me to do it, if that makes sense.

It is kind of like stumbling across a topic that interests you, doing some research and writing a talk about it that you could give in church, for example, except that you don't technically have an assignment to give a talk in church, yet. This is something that we used to do on the mission, writing talks on a subject rather than just studying the subject. This is a great way to approach the study of any topic, religious or not. For me if it wasn't in blog form, as it wasn't on my mission, it would just end up in an outline and never be really fully developed. Puting it out in cyberspace helps provide me that 'push' (decent movie but also not fully developed) that I need in order really put something together that makes sense. I need that or else most things end up like the state of our baseboards in our house, I have all of the materials and have done a lot of work but the old ones are still in the living room and there aren't any in the kitchen or bedrooms, but boy does the pantry look good...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lingering from Kris Kave

The only reason I started this blog is because all of my comments on other people's blogs grew a little too large so making my own blog became a better avenue. I may or may not ever actually just blog my own original content that isn't spurred from someone else's blog. We'll just have to see.

To read the post that spurred this blog go here.

First off Kris, I just want to say thank you for posting your blog even though you mentioned it was a topic that you do not like to write or talk about. I can tell from the comments so far that others feel the same way. It kind of reminds of all of the ‘discussions’ we would have as a family during and after Sunday dinner. I admit I wasn’t sure how to comment on this one (I initially read it before anyone else made any comments and I know you enjoy comments). I have to give credit to the other commenters because theirs is what sent me into deeper thought that has been very enlightening. If you would so indulge me I would like to share what came to my mind and also where this blog has taken me, it has been a bit of an adventure.

I first thought about a ward mission leader I had on my mission named Bro. Smith (name changed for privacy). I came to love Bro. Smith because of some of the struggles that I was going through at the time and some that I saw him go through as well. Bro. Smith was a convert to the church of a few years but different from most. I am not sure why, I believe that it had to do with his military career but all he would ever say about it was ‘Special Ops’ and that was the end of the discussion, but he needed to get First Presidency permission to get baptized. Not only did he need First Presidency permission but he was actually denied permission for about 3 years. He was active the whole time and even taught Sunday School before he was even a member (His story is very compelling and if you would like to hear more I would love to tell you more sometime). Bro. Smith died very suddenly while I was still in the area and was able to attend his funeral, many missionaries received permission to attend as well. While talking with many of his friends one clearly said that repentance is like ‘undoing shackles that have been weighing us down’ but most of us throw the shackles over our shoulder and keep on down the path of life. Bro. Smith on the other hand undid the shackles, dropped them on the ground, and walked on with no further hindrance. In a sense, he did not let them ‘linger’. I never forgot that.

That was what first came to my mind, next I turned to the scriptures and flipped open to one of my favorite books Enos. I think that Enos was either repenting for the first time or dwelling on some ‘lingerers’ when he sought forgiveness. As he prayed in that forest he received this answer from Enos 1:5-6: “And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed. And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.” I think that the holes in the board can be taken away just as Enos guilt was swept away. I then turned to the account of Alma the Younger. You all know the story of what a hellion Alma was and the trouble he caused. The scriptures almost come to the point of calling him a servant of Satan though not actually quite that far. Then the Angel comes and he is ‘struck down’. When he comes around he says this in Mosiah 27:29:
“My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God.” I got that sense from some of the words that you used Kris, Alma continues “My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.”

He later recounted this experience to his son and in that account explained even more in Alma 36:18-19:
“…O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.”

This is where I turn to the other comments that have been left. I do think that we can have memories of our sins to help us keep from committing them again but I believe that they can be, just as Alma did in recounting them with his son, but I also feel that these memories can eventually cause us no more pain or guilt. I do believe that it is within the realm of the Infinite Atonement to cause us to completely forget them as well, if there is no need for us to use them as teaching principles. Any pain that our sins can bring to us or even the memory can most definitely be replaced with profound joy. Alma had some great experiences with that as well but I will let you go and read those in Alma 36: 24-26.

In regards to the holes in the board being the impression left on the others affected by our sins I do not have any direct scriptural references because those are mostly written from the perspective of the sinner and not from the perspective of any victims left in their wake. I do know though that the Atonement applies to them just as much as the sinner. Their memory of the sins can be swept away through the Atonement. I think that this actually needs to happen in order for them to truly forgive those that trespassed them.

I imagine that there were many who held grudges towards Alma for the damage he caused in seeking to destroy the church. I can see parents whose children, wives whose husbands and vice versa who fell away from the truth because of Alma’s enticing. We do not know much of those accounts but we do know that he went on to become head of the church and did all he could to make recompense for his actions. I would be willing to bet that many of those people wronged were able to forgive him and remember his sins no more.

I am not totally sure why but Mom has been on my mind while thinking about all of this. I know that Mom is not quite the same as she was before some ways good and other well, just different. But one thing that Mom is now is Super Spiritual in an almost child-like way. Normally I would say the cause is that Mom is really more child-like after her brain surgery except that, I am not sure if Dad shared this with everyone, but he said while reading a book with Mom, before the surgery, that it was her greatest desire to live a more Christ-like life. And pretty much now, Mom is an example to all of us of desiring to serve, reading the scriptures, daily prayer, attending the temple, listening to conference talks pretty much all of the time, and has much renewed/stronger love for her children and desires nothing more than their happiness. While that may be annoying to some, and tend to get a little ‘old’ at times, I think it is quite inspiring and Kindra and I have been trying to do better, in part, because of her example. As difficult as the surgery was for Mom, I am thinking that she has been greatly blessed with this new ‘fire’ of righteousness.

I guess the reason why I have been thinking of her is that it is almost as if Mom has no memory of the past except for the good things. She is truly focused on the now and the eternal. And this is just one way I think we can look to her as an example.