Monday, August 24, 2015

Today I am grateful: I have been changed

This is a follow-up to the previous post. 

Today I am grateful that through the Atonement of Christ I am able to be changed.  Usually, when we think of the Atonement we the of the mercy that Christ shows us when we sin. We think of the power for Him to "remember [our sins] no more" (Heb 8:12).  We think of forgiveness cleansing us from the effects of the choices we have made.  We may even consider His power over sickness and infirmities (Alma 7:11-12).

However, the grace offered through the enabling power is what I am most grateful for today.  The power not just to be washed clean, but to be made more perfect through the forgiveness process.  I am grateful that as I have cultivated a relationship with the Spirit I have been changed.

I see myself as coming to earth with circumstances and personality that are unique.  I came with unique needs and challenges to overcome.  In order to become like Heavenly Father I would have trials to put aside the ways in which I am not like Him.  Many of my challenges come because they are part of whom I was when I came to earth.  Some things are a struggle between my opinions/feelings/pride and my faith.

When I think there are things that are incongruous between what I understand or feel and what God has commanded I find that it is my pride, not my faith at work.  I forget that God's ways are not my ways (Isa 55:8).  This does not mean I do not question when I don't understand.  This does mean that when I question I try to do so humbly, opening myself up to the Spirit to be taught of Him.    In faith I remember that God has all the truth, and that He is willing to share it with me (James 1:5,  Moroni 10:5).

When I struggled with feeling like God was unjust towards women because He didn't allow them to hold the priesthood I had forgotten that He is GOD.  He embodies all truth.  All things are known to Him.  He sees all.  His ways are perfect.  I was 6 when I first felt like I was being treated unjustly by God because I was not given the exact same opportunities as my brother and other boys.  I felt that way for 17 years. Yes, all through Young Women, college, and while on my mission I felt that somehow I was missing out because men and women are different.

I am grateful today for great Young Women leaders who thoughtfully prepared lessons.  They taught me truths that stayed with me: powerful messages that were brought to my rememberance when I was ready to understand and accept them.  I am grateful for the good example and influence of righteous friends, roommates and mission companions.   These women (and some men) loved me for who I was, where I was.  Most were unaware of my struggles.

At 23, when my heart was ready, the Spirit spoke to me.  He promised me that if I let go of my inferiority complex He would teach me my place in God's plan.  He promised to heal me of feeling unhappy in my own skin, and to give me joy in who I am.  I had a choice: I chose Him.  This was not an easy choice. I had to lay aside 17 years of anger, indignation, and parts of myself I valued very much.  I am so glad I did because He kept His promise.  Through humility I received healing, and understanding.  I gave up someone I thought I wanted to be to become what God wanted me to become.

I felt for many years that I wanted to be a boy.  I felt like God had made a mistake. I had many natural-man feelings.  I realize that each of these experiences is an integral part of whom I started out as.  The person I used to be is very different from the person I am today.  I hope that the person I need to become by the end of my life is as different from the person I am today as I am from the me of 25 years ago.

Today, I understand that the difficulties and challenges that I faced were important in developing empathy and understanding towards those experiencing similar feelings. I also have a deeper understanding of the workings of God and the power of Christ's Atonement.  I can see how far I have come through the Atonement.  I can feel the healing that has taken place in my life.  I can see how I have been changed to become more like Him.  This is the real power of the Atonement: to make space in our lives for Him to come in and change us to become like Him.  Ultimately this is the goal of the Atonement-not just to forgive us and clean us but to improve (sanctify) us.  When we chose obedience to Him and sacrifice of our natural-man we become like God.

Today I am grateful for Christ. Today I am powerfully aware that I have been changed.  I am grateful for the atonement; for its ability to change me.


Candice said...

Your experiences and thoughts here made me think of this essay:

And also:

I also believe in and am experiencing the miracles through which God heals, transforms and liberates our souls. It is with great kindness that he communicates the things he hopes for us to us.

Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing Alex . . . that was very beautifully said. :)