Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Alright

Now, I know y'all know I can't spell my way out of a paper sack, but despite that, I do usually manage to catch the most glaring errors before hitting "publish." In the event I accidentally make a typo--such as hitting the U instead of the I (they're right next to each other on the keyboard)--resulting in a word that doesn't exist . . . it's okay to help me out in the comments.

I wanted to blog but now that I'm in front of the keyboard I'm feeling shy. So maybe I'll try to come at the topic from a different angle than I originally pictured. (Chris says, "You're going to try to sneak up on yourself?")

Since Chris started attending church with me, things have changed a lot for me spiritually. It started in some superficial ways. First of all, he's so much better than I am at learning names and relationships. He'll meet a guy and remember his name, match him up to his wife, know which kids are his, and even remember the name of most of the kids. I'm lucky if I remember that I met the guy before. It's not that I'm an idiot. I think it's half character-defect, half genuinely poor memory for names. What I mean by character defect is that ironically I happen to believe that NOT learning the names of the people you meet is basically revealing that at some level you don't care about them. And when I'm really stressed out and in survival mode, I guess that's fair. I can't deal with new people, so I don't. But when Chris started attending and he was learning names left and right, I felt pushed to keep up. I mean, I didn't want him talking about how great so-and-so was and how neat his son was and I didn't have a clue who Chris was talking about. Chris has is a good judge of character. I started coming out of my shell a bit and doing better at learning names.

And that led to me feeling closer to the ward and being less willing to miss the occasional meeting.

And that led to me hearing many more talks and Sunday School lessons and Relief Society lessons.

And that led to me making some changes at home. Finally having regular prayers at dinner. The occasional Family Home Evening. Subscribing to the Ensign and the Friend again.

Actually reading them.

Cracking the scriptures from time to time. Reading the lesson ahead of time more often. Participating a lot in the lessons. Bearing my testimony from time to time. I'd been paying tithing and sticking to the Word of Wisdom since before Chris started attending, but these things got easier.

I really LOVE my church, love my faith. I think being a Latter Day Saint rocks. But I also felt chronically behind and like I would NEVER catch up. I'd never be much GOOD at being LDS. And that feeling of being grateful for being welcomed back into the fold after . . . everything . . . I felt I would always feel in debt.

When Chris decided to get baptized, I didn't think I could feel much more grateful. It was like finding out that I was pregnant with twins again--God's mercy went so far beyond what I deserved.

Then at some point . . . maybe it was February? I missed the actual meeting. The Relief Society set the goal to read the Book of Mormon by October's General Conference meeting. I started three weeks after the kick-off date, but their pace was so reasonable, that by reading ten pages a day for about ten days I was caught up.

I've read the Book of Mormon cover to cover before. I did it before I got baptized and I did it again about a year later. Like, maybe, everyone, I struggled to understand it all. When President Hinkley issued the challenge to read the Book of Mormon a couple years ago, I didn't make it all the way through. I got close, but not all the way through.

But this time is sooo different. Maybe it's just that with Chris' support, I have a better connection with the Spirit and so . . . things make more sense. Maybe it's because it's my fifth time through this section of the book. Maybe it's because I'm older, wiser. Maybe it's because I only have to read a chapter or two a day and I'm finding it less of a problem to make the time to read carefully. Maybe it's because I don't let more than one day go by if I must miss a reading. Maybe it's a combination of all of those things.

But a few key points of doctrine are imbedding themselves in my heart this time in a way they haven't in the past. I am accepting Christ's atonement--with deep gratitude--but not resisting it the way I used to. I used to think, not consciously, but at some level, that maybe I could take back my sins upon myself and suffer for them myself so he wouldn't have to. But that's not the plan of salvation, and to do so is to not understand the nature of the atonement--and the importance of, well, all the details. His innocence, for example. It's my job to repent, but not to get stuck in any particular part of it, either. There's nothing edifying about getting stuck in feeling horrible about something.

It's not just that I'm enjoying the Book of Mormon and that I'm enjoying being able to keep up with the others reading it--I really look forward to that time to read each day. It's not as hard to remember to pray. I do so more reflexively.

Chris gets frustrated because his own spiritual progression--well, it's his. And he's a guy who learns things easily and masters new skills quickly and spiritual matters, they're just different. They're not like that.

But I feel like the distance he has gone--the questions he has asked and the basic things he has done to make sure we all get to church on time every Sunday--these have paid dividends for me that I don't take for granted. There is really something to the FACT that every step he takes on his journey moves us both forward. It's much more powerful than I ever expected. Not the superficial stuff (like me now knowing my own ward soooo much better) but the deep stuff. The places where fundamental change occur. And I'm grateful because I have wanted those changes, but I just couldn't get here without him.

And that is all I have to say about that.

1 comment:

ann in california said...

Alaska,

Your post made my heart swell. I love the fact that you are on this amazing journey; and it's even better that you are being led (in part) by your husband.

I admire you for writing about this so openly, and it is exciting that your passion for LDS is building.

Though our churches and faiths are different, I can relate to so much of what you're saying.

Keep up the wonderful work!

Hugs,
Ann (+ Michael & Baby Griffin)