Sunday, May 25, 2014

The other end of the forgiving stick

Remember the last post i did about the danger of pornography and how to overcome it? Well, as I was writing it, I had a thought come to my head, "I should write about how to forgive yourself. That one's pretty hard to do sometimes. Sometimes harder than getting forgiveness," but, school got busy and that idea disappeared from my mind pretty quickly. Oddly enough, the next paper we had to write for my Doctrine and Covenants class, one of the prompts happened to be, If you truly repent and have been forgiven by Heavenly Father, how can you learn to forgive yourself?" Well, if that's not inspired, I don't know what is. So I wrote the paper, turned it in, and here's an expanded version for all of you. Enjoy!

                  We’ve all disobeyed God’s commandments in one way or another and we have to repent because of that. God is more than willing to forgive us. Since he is our loving Heavenly Father, He’s the last person who wants to hold a grudge against us for our mistakes. The hard part about forgiveness is, sometimes, forgiving ourselves. We may beat ourselves up about some poor choice we made weeks, months, or even years ago. We may think we’re “broken” and irreparable because of having looked at pornography, disobeyed our parents, or not doing something we should have to help someone. So how do we do it? How do we make ourselves realize that we’re not even guilty of our past mistakes and that there’s more than that mistake that we made?
                  First of all, let’s get some perspective here. God freely forgives us. He doesn’t taunt us saying, “I’ll think about forgiving you. You just have to…” No. If we really repent, He’ll say, “Your sins are forgiven you.” In the short space of 5 sections of Doctrine and Covenants, God tells people that their sins are forgiven 4 separate times (D&C 60:7, 61:2, 62:3, 64:3).
                  So, we know that God wants to forgive us, big whoop. We’re trying to forgive ourselves, not God. Well ok then, let’s look at what God expects us to do to not be guilty in His eyes anymore. D&C 64:7 tells us to confess our sins and ask forgiveness. Let’s tie that to D&C 58:42-43 where we’re told to confess our sins and then forsake them. Most sins we can confess to God and then move on. Even when we need to talk to a priesthood leader about something we’ve done, their purpose there isn’t to condemn us, it’s to help us. The idea of confessing is that we can get the guilt we feel inside of ourselves off our chest so to speak. We can cast our guilt on Christ and leave it at that.
                  The Lord told us in D&C 64:9-10 that He’ll forgive whoever he wants to. That’s his privilege. But our Job is to forgive everybody. I’d say that everybody includes ourselves. If we can’t leave what we’ve done behind thereby forgiving, I’d almost argue we haven’t fully repented. We can’t let it torture us.
                  In the Book of Mormon, there’s the story of a young man named Alma. He had committed some pretty serous sins in his youth, but repented as was forgiven on his sins. Now, the part I’m talking about (Alma chapter 36) is about 25 years after Alma changed his ways. I have no doubt in my mind that he remembered the things that he had done when he was trying to destroy God’s church. It’s hard to forget our mistakes. BUT, in verse 19, Alma says, “And now, behold, when I thought this [that his sins were forgiven], I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.” When he repented, he still remembered his sins, but the memory of that didn’t fill him with the inexpressible horror and torment that he had felt before (Alma 36:12-14, 17). When we really forsake a sin, we still remember it. We’ll probably remember serious sins forever, in fact, Alma 11:43 tells us that at the final judgment before God we’ll have “a bright recollection of all our guilt.” But the pain that we feel from them can be taken away by the Atonement. We can take those feelings and make them our conviction to never commit that sin again.
                  Another problem comes along in the form of perfectionism. Christ himself told his disciples, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:48). Well, if we all sin, it’s impossible to even get near that point right? In October 2010, Jorge F Zaballos said in General Conference, Even when, from a purely human perspective, perfection can appear an impossible challenge to achieve, I testify that our Father and our Savior have made known to us that it is possible to achieve the impossible. Yes, it is possible to achieve eternal life. Yes, it is possible to be happy now and forever.” (“Attempting the Impossible” October 2010) That’s why it says in Alma 7:13 ,”…the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance.” What seems impossible is completely possible, thanks to Christ’s atonement, forgiveness is practically guaranteed as long as we do our part by trying to keep the commandments and try to be better every day.

                  Joseph Smith said, “A man is his own tormenter and his own condemner.” We’re the only ones that prevent ourselves from being forgiven for our sins. God is more than willing to forgive us if we’ll put ourselves on the path to forgiveness and learn from our mistakes. So what’s holding us back? He’s waiting to help.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Shielding ourselves from one of the most deadly of diseases

This is a paper that I wrote in my Doctrine & Covenants class here at BYU (plus a little more that I've added over the last few days. It's about pornography, a rather heavy subject that not many people really like to talk about, but for some reason I felt like talking about it. Here's what the prompt was: What can I do now to build (then maintain) a wall that will help me resist pornography LATER in life? My paper went a bit beyond the scale of that prompt, but here it is. Hopefully, there's somebody out there who needs this.

            Pornography is becoming more and more prevalent, and more and more easily found. In fact, according to the all-knowing fountain of knowledge that is Google, nearly 70% of men 18-34 years old regularly look at pornography. Anyone who has ever encountered it knows the drawing temptation that comes from it. In 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Stay away from pornography as you would avoid a serious disease. It is as destructive.” In order to keep away from this serious, destructive disease, we have to shield ourselves from its attacks that can come out of nowhere and hit us hard. To do that we have to know what we’re up against, what will build us up instead of tear us down, and the rewards we receive from having a shield against pornography now and in the future.
            First of all, what’s at stake with this whole pornography thing? It can’t be that dangerous, right? In D&C 42:23 it says that if a man looks on a woman to lust after her (that is, entertain sexual urges toward a woman), he “ shall deny the faith,” “not have the Spirit,” and if he doesn’t repent, “shall be cast out.” Being “cast out” (presumably from the church, but it could also be God’s presence) seems like a pretty big deal to me, and one that I’d like to avoid. D&C 50 says that the Spirit of God edifies us as we learn or see things. In verse 23, it says that whatever doesn’t edify isn’t from the Spirit and is “darkness.” I assure you, that pornography does not edify. It doesn’t lift. It doesn’t fill you with light. It leaves you a feeling no better than you had before, if not worse. You don’t want it. Period. Just trust me on this one.
            But, enough doom and gloom! How are we going to hold up against that temptation? Fighting the temptation of pornography isn’t a passive battle. It’s an active one. So the first step comes to us. In D&C 43:9-11 the Lord tells us to learn His laws and sanctify ourselves, and when we do that we will be given glory. That’s where our shield begins. We learn what we’re supposed to do and as we do, that glory we receive starts to build around us. Back in D&C 50:24-25, it says that what is from God brings light into our lives. And light chases out darkness. Remember the darkness of the last paragraph? Imagine replacing that doom and gloom with happiness and peace. That’s how it works. Robert D Hales said, “light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time,” (April 2002 General Conference). When you put things that add light like scripture study, prayer, temple attendance, and pretty much anything else constructive, the temptation and darkness of wanting to look at pornography leaves. And your shield will grow into an armor that can protect from any attack that might come at you. The world opens up to you and nothing can hold you back from feeling God’s love for you.
            If you are experiencing problems with pornography, start fixing them NOW. There is no time to waste. Get help from somebody. A parent, a spouse, a friend, your bishop (probably a really idea for this one); somebody who care about you and will keep caring about you no matter what you’ve done. Like a destructive and deadly disease, pornography will leave scars on you spiritually. You're going to remember what you did and saw for a LONG time. On that note, here’s another quote for you: “Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means that you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” If you’ve overcome pornography, yes, you did something stupid, but you have experienced what few others do, and you can use that to help others. Never be ashamed of having seen pornography during the “Law of Chastity Sunday” lesson in your priesthood quorum. Know that you have kicked a legitimate addiction. Congrats to you. God doesn’t love you any less for having seen what you did. Move onward. In D&C 58:42-43 Christ says, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins- behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” Stop it. Talk to a priesthood leader about it. And leave it behind. God doesn’t even remember that it happened.
            One more quote from Jeffery R Holland to send you off, “Whoever you are and whatever you have done, you can be forgiven. Every one of you young men can leave behind any transgression with which you may struggle. It is the miracle of forgiveness; it is the miracle of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ,” (October 2011 General Conference).  That’s coming form an apostle. Build yourself a shield against pornography. One so thick, that it can’t ever penetrate or break through. If your shield wasn’t quite up to the attack, start building again. It’s never too late. You're never too far gone. You can come back. I promise. I know.

Friday, March 28, 2014

We meet again Mr. Bond...

Hey folks. It's been a while. I'm going to revive this. Just so you know. Get ready for awesome!