Sunday, September 29, 2013

Parable of the Hidden Step

When my little girl made a mistake, I reminded her of the steps of repentance. As she applied the repentance process, she felt overwhelmed.
   "I'm afraid I'll never learn how to be perfect." She told me.
   I recognized in my daughter the need for a lesson I had to learn myself about the Hidden Step of Repentance.
   In Primary, I was taught the four steps of repentance. These steps were often compared to a pathway to get back on the straight and narrow path Lehi talked about in the Book of Mormon, the way back to Heavenly Father's presence.
   Even before I was baptized, I was taught to
     1. Recognize my mistakes,
     2. Apologize to all I'd hurt (especially Heavenly Father),
     3. Right the wrong, and 
     4. NEVER do it again.
   After I was baptized, the steps of repentance became more important than ever, because now I am accountable for my mistakes. Now my mistakes are sins, because I know better. 
   For many years I thought there were only four steps. But something was missing. Like my little girl, Satan sometimes drummed up past mistakes and I found myself feeling guilty for them all over again. I'd repented, hadn't I? Why then did I still feel so bad about them?
   Eventually I came to realize that there is one more step. The final hidden step probably seemed so automatic to my Primary leaders, that they didn't think to teach it. I mean, once you've repented, you're forgiven. You're done, right?
   It may seem obvious that when your sin is forgiven you don't have to worry about it anymore. God wants us to forget it because He has already done so. Yet how many of us dwell on past shortcomings and worry that we might slip up again?
   How many of us tend to hop over that last hidden step -- and fail to forgive ourselves?

UPDATE: Today posted on Facebook with the same point as this parable, so I put it here -

"Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive.” –Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Do not get hung up on your own struggles and imperfections. Turn your focus toward heaven, correct your course if needed, and allow the grace of the Savior to wash over you and know that you are forgiven.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stanley's Parable

Stanley's Parable

We were the typical big family: Four kids... and a dog.
Every big family needs a dog, right? So we went to the shelter to get one. We looked at several, but fell in love with Stanley. He was an Aussie Shepherd mix, and we think he had some Saint Bernard. He was older, but still young enough to romp with the kids, yet gentle enough that they could do anything to him.

At first it was fine. I knew I was in charge of the feeding and cleanup, and he was just like another kid. I'd never grown up with a dog, but I was willing to take on the extra work. The kids loved him. And Stanley loved the kids. He was a good dog.

But he wasn't an outside dog. No matter how much we tried, Stanley could not get used to sleeping outside. And I could not get used to all the dog hair that ends up in everything. But the kids loved him, and he was such a good dog. And he seemed a little lonely for canine friends.

Then we moved. The new yard didn't work as well. He couldn't get his exercise out. I'd have to walk him. Which was fine; I could walk him to school with the kids. But I couldn't go on campus with him. Which was a problem. He was a good dog, but I was overwhelmed.

Then Stanley started barking. And chewing. I knew it was from lack of exercise. And having to stay outside all alone. We all loved him. But I couldn't take care of him. He needed a real family. One that would have a place in their house. One that wouldn't mind all the Stanley fur. One that had another dog to keep him company. And one that could provide him with adequate exercise. My heart was bigger than my ability. I didn't want to admit it.

Finally, Stanley's barking and chewing was too much. It was bothering the neighbors. It was bothering the kids. It was bothering me. I wanted to find another family for him, but Stanley had to go now. There was no time to find a better solution. I signed the papers at the shelter.

Then I got the call from the Aussie Rescue lady. "I have Stanley here. How could you take him back to the shelter? You know they could have put him to sleep."

This women then proceeded to interrogate me and jump to conclusions at every turn. First I wasn't feeding him enough, then I allowed him to get overweight. And I couldn't find the time to exercise him, but he couldn't get up and down the stairs. So, according to her, I had just dumped him at the shelter to get rid of him.

What could I say? I wasn't going to change her mind about me. She didn't have all the details, and deep down I knew I had made the right decision. This woman, who couldn't pick me out in a crowd, had made some pretty harsh judgments. And it wasn't fair.

It hadn't a snap decision. I had prayed about this, and thought about it, and tried other solutions. But I had finally found the best solution for me in this situation. I'd come to the realization that I raise children better than I raise dogs. I'm just not a dog person.

And something else. I loved Stanley, but not in the way he deserved. I couldn't love him enough to keep him and take care of him, I didn't have the ability. But I could love him enough to let him go and have a chance at a better situation.

Yet, I am grateful to that woman, of whom I can't recall the name, for her phone call. Now, every time I'm tempted to pass judgment on someone's decision, I think of Stanley. I think that no matter how much I think I know about a situation, I don't know everything.

And I'm not THE JUDGE.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Parable of the Tools

My friend once told me, “Facebook is evil.”

I've heard the same thing said about money, guns, and drugs. Truth is, none of these are bad things.
I could give you countless examples of when these tools have helped people, and even saved lives. And I know you could, too.

At the same time, we all know of lives that were literally destroyed because of these tools. How can a tool be good and evil at the same time? It can’t.

It's the love of money, violence with guns, misuse of drugs, and idleness on Facebook that are the real snares. These temptations, should we choose to yield, can become our undoing.
So next time you feel yourself slipping into evil, don’t blame the tool. Change your actions.
And use your tools wisely.

want more? Click here.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Parable of the Fireflies


Parable of the Fireflies

Not all promptings from the Holy Ghost are going to be earth-shattering, life-changing instructions. Often they are pinprick thoughts that would make your world a little smoother. Lately, I’ve been trying to pay attention to these tiny promptings.
“Bring a loaf of bread to church.”

“Return those library books today, even though they’re due next week.”

“Send that email to that person as well.”

I couldn’t know that bread would be needed for Sacrament that day, or that I would become ill next week, or that a particular person could answer my email quicker than the other recipients.

Listening to the Holy Ghost, in these cases, was not really vital. Like little fireflies to be caught in a jar, these little promptings provided a opportunities for moments of enjoyment and peace.

All too often, though, I bat such promptings away as if they are annoying bugs. The result is inevitably a missed opportunity or inconvenience.
When this happens, I plead with the Lord to keep sending small promptings until I start listening. Fortunately, He is kind enough to do it.

Find my next parable here.