Church was really good today. The bishopric were all gone during sacrament meeting, and so the High Councilman that was presiding and conducting bore his testimony of our Heavenly Father before turning the time over the congregation. His thoughts were exactly my own as he talked about our Father in Heaven and the love that He has for us as His children. He knows us so intimately and so infinitely that it is impossible to grasp. I've been thinking a lot lately of how Heavenly Father seems to be looking out for me. Even when I don't deserve it, somehow I have always had money to travel back home for Christmas or our family reunion. I've managed to pick up a temp job or find full-time or better employment than currently - and usually in the nick of time. Or He just sends friends into my life that influence me for the better, or ones that I can count on when I need them to be there, or just to say the right thing at the right time. More importantly, they've loved me for me - or rather, despite of me. He's also given me fabulous parents who love me and try to guide me. They've certainly taught me by example. And I'm fairly certain that Heavenly Father and my dad are pretty in sync, because my dad always seems to call me or text me when I need hm most. And in the end, when we have fouled up and we feel that we don't deserve to be loved and we don't deserve to be blessed...sometimes that when Heavenly Father blesses us most by reminding us of all the things that we have in our lives. I can't tell you how much of a comfort this knowledge has been to me in the past week - which has literally been a week from hell. And of course, I have to add, the ultimate sacrifice of His first born son, who he sent to earth to die for us, even though He was spotless and had no need to repent. I imagine the love that I know that He has for me and then multiply it for His firstborn - and yet, because He loves me, He sent Christ down to atone for us - despite of us - and because of that we can return to His presence...
My favorite thought of the day came from one of the testimonies that was given during Sacrament meeting. It was a guy and he was talking about a rough time in his life where he was away from home and his grandmother had just passed away. He had been praying for better understanding of what the resurrection meant. One night he was thinking to himself that if only he could have a hug from his mother, somehow that would make it better. And he realized that that is what the resurrection means to us. It means that one day we will have our bodies back, and because of that, there will be embracing in heaven. There will be hugging and touching... all because Christ was resurrected and set the way so that we can be too. I marveled at that thought, because I absolutely know that a heaven without a hug from my mom or my dad would be miserable. There are definite times in my life when I ache for the embrace of a loving parent. And I am so grateful that my parents were sealed in the temple, so that our family can be together for eternity. And because of Christ's resurrection, I'll get that hug from Dad whenever I need it. (And I could really use one right now, actually.)
In Relief Society, the lesson was on forgiveness the teacher put up a list of what forgiveness wasn't: It isn't trivializing your own suffering. It isn't accepting the sin. It isn't allowing yourself to continue being victimized. It isn't forgetting the pain. And it isn't trust. The Bishop brought up Elder Bednar's talk about how we choose to be offended and that we have complete control over those emotions. And I realized something. Sometimes in my effort to try and not be offended, or by choosing not to be offended, I am also trying to suppress the hurt that was done to me. As much as I complain about things, I often don't confront a person who has really, truly hurt me by their actions or their words. And I don't often realize how hurt or offended I am until I've really thought about it later. And even once I've realized it, I think that it's been to long to bring it up again, and so I let it go. I think I forgive them. But the pain is definitely still there. But the forgetting the pain part is part of the learning experience of life. So for all of those who think I still hold grudges, I say to you: False. I am just remembering the pain. And if I bring it up every time I'm reminded of it, don't think that I haven't forgiven. I just haven't forgotten. Which, we really aren't required to do - mostly because we can't. How do you forget that stinging remark someone has said to you, that you hear every time you look in the mirror now that he's said it? How do you forget that inconsiderate action by a close friend that turned your world upside down? You can't. But you can forgive them.
The Bishop also pulled out John 8, where the woman taken in adultery is accused. I love that story simply because of the amazing compassion that Jesus had for her. That He has for all of us when we sin. She broke a very serious commandment. By law she should have died. But he did not condemn her. And because of that, she was able to go from Him and repent. She was given the opportunity to change. What a marvelous blessing the atonement gives us! The Savior has paid the price for all our sins, and because of that, He opens his arms wide to welcome us back as soon as we give up our sin and come to Him.