Biggest Feeling

We just finished the general conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was wonderful.

My best memories aren’t of a specific talk, but instead a very special feeling.

God knows who I am and loves me.

I wish that my children would enjoy the same feeling today. They stayed up pretty late last night and that always makes it harder to feel the spirit when you’re tired.

building from where you are

When Ether 12:27 gets quoted in church it’s often to remind us of our responsibilities in the process of our development. Be humble, acknowledge our weaknesses, and approach the Lord. But if that were all then this blog post wouldn’t exist.

There’s more to it than that. Let’s start with the scripture:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Ether 12:27

Ether 12:27 isn’t just a formula for self improvement. It’s a contract back by our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

How this contract becomes activated is interesting. Lots of times we’ll think that if we admit weakness, we’ll be mocked or required to feel bad that we have a weakness. Making ourselves feel bad isn’t part of the repentance process.

Also, what if we changed this slightly from weakness to opportunity? “If men come unto me I will show unto them their opportunities. I give unto men opportunities that they may be humble..”

As far as the way it feels when we approach him, James 1:5 clearly states that the Lord doesn’t upbraid (belittle/ridicule) us for approaching him.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him

James 1:5

We often focus on our parts of these scriptures, but lets also remember this is an acknowledgement that the Lord is willing to work with us at whatever stage we happen to be.

Your list of the imperfections opportunities you have right now is exactly where he wants to start. Don’t be afraid to try.

Help us be what our Father Sees

One doesn’t have to be religious to consider how powerful the message of a loving Heavenly Father is to those who subscribe to the belief. Recently in our family scripture study we discussed the question,

If you were asked to to describe what Jesus Christ was sent to earth to do, what would you say?

It was a pretty powerful question as we then heard several thoughtful responses from each of our children. I did my best to summarize and consolidate their responses. Here’s what I came up with.

He’s here to help us be the person our Heavenly Father sees.

This is why John 3:16 says

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

And Moses 1:39 says

For behold, this is my work and my glory–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

The work and the purpose of the Savior is to help us be the person our Heavenly Father sees.

Completing Families

Earlier I wrote about how without the work done in the temple the earth would be utterly wasted at the second coming. Today I found Mister Hill.

Up until a few hours ago this child was simply listed on the death records in Ohio by his last name. Knowing the death date doesn’t allow the temple work to be done. A birth date is required because children under the age of 8 do not need to be baptized.

Today I found his birth date, or rather his birth range. FamilySearch correctly had the 1900 census connected to the parents. That document, while extremely imperfect, at least told me who was in the household on the 27th and 28th of June 1900. Mister Hill was not listed. This meant I could use June 1900 to September 1901 as his birth range. Once his birth range was listed it allowed me to print the card for sealing him to his parents.

This morning, there was a missing son. Now he’s been found. It’s my responsibility to get the work done to help complete this family, and without that work occurring the whole purpose for this wonderful, beautiful earth would be wasted at the second coming.

There’s a real joy that comes from doing this work. It’s nice to spend those moments doing the things you love and taking care of those who have passed away.

Getting Mad

Recently I discovered that the breakfast cereal Froot Loops doesn’t actually have fruit in the name. It was a pretty obvious observation, but one that I hadn’t made in my adult life. Now at just over 40 I found the insight to be a few years later than when I had preferred to notice.

I doubt there will be a spelling test when it comes time to be judged at the end of my life. The more likely test will be about whether or not I have repented. Recently I noticed something as painfully obvious as the spelling of Froot Loops, but this time it was about the repentance process.

In the Gospel Principles manual for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints it lists the steps of the repentance process as:

  • We Must Recognize Our Sins
  • We Must Feel Sorrow for Our Sins
  • We Must Forsake Our Sins
  • We Must Make Restitution
  • We Must Forgive Others
  • We Must Keep the Commandments of God

Getting mad at yourself is not one of the steps in the repentance process.

Let’s say it was.

How long are you supposed to be mad at yourself depending on the issue? What’s the ratio? Does steeling a something warrant being mad 1 week for every dollar? A week is a long time to be mad at yourself. Think of all the good things in life you’d miss out on being made at yourself for an entire week! What if the ratio was only a day? You’d still miss out on a pretty sunset/sunrise not being able to appreciate it if the ratio were a day. Do you think that’s the way it’s supposed to be?

Sounds painfully obvious, but how often do we fall into the trap when we realized that we’ve failed to make our failure feel worse by getting mad at ourselves? Annie Duke’s Thinking In Bets contains this insight about how we treat a loss.

Amos Tversky’s work on loss aversion, part of prospect theory (which won Kahneman the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002), that losses in general feel about two times as bad as wins feel good. So winning $100 at blackjack feels as good to us as losing $50 feels bad to us. Because being right feels like winning and being wrong feels like losing, that means we need two favorable results for every one unfavorable result just to break even emotionally.

Duke, Annie. Thinking in Bets (p. 36). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

We don’t like being wrong. It hurts. So it’s pretty easy to defend ourselves by taking the side of the authoritarian in our own mental narrative. This works against the goal of helping us overcome whatever we need to repent of. It’s an obviously dumb trap to fall into–just like thinking Froot Loops was spelled differently. Nonetheless, here we are. It takes mental effort to avoid and overcome the trap, but knowing that it’s there helps.

So, for those who could use a dose of the painfully obvious, (and it took me until I’m 40 to see it) getting mad at yourself is not part of the repentance process.

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