Personal Online Journal

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Release We Are Looking For

In Falling to Heaven: The Surprising Path to Happiness, James L. Ferrell discusses the fantasy that is forgiving oneself.
Jesus showed us the way in his exchange with the woman taken in adultery. The scribes and Pharisees brought the woman before him in another attempt to entrap him in the web of the law. “Master,” they said, feigning respect, “this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” 208 Jesus didn’t immediately respond, but crouched down and wrote with his finger in the dirt, as if he hadn’t heard them. The scripture says that they “continued asking him”—they badgered him—whereupon he stood up and uttered one of the most oft-quoted lines in all of holy writ. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”209 He didn’t deny what the law said, but he taught them what Paul and James later wrote about—that the law catches and condemns all of us, as all of us are convicted as transgressors of the law and are therefore, effectively, guilty of all. One by one, the men who stood round were “convicted by their own conscience” and left, one guilty soul at a time. 
Jesus’ statement to these men was meant not only for them. He was teaching a principle—a truth that was crucial for the woman to understand as well, a truth that those of us who might be struggling in the misguided quest to forgive ourselves have not yet fully understood. All are guilty under the law, a guilt that separates us from God. What does it mean to forgive ourselves when we are, in effect, “guilty of all”? Clearly, the power of such forgiveness is not within us; the guilty cannot render themselves innocent. Only the judge—in this case, the great and Eternal Judge 210—can do that. 
So “forgiving oneself” is a misnomer. We, ourselves, are not the aggrieved party, and we, as the guilty, cannot render ourselves innocent. We are just feeling bad for having done bad, and we want to find a way to quit grinding our own faces in the sand. And here, Jesus’ final words to the woman, in combination with his teaching that all are guilty, provides the release we are looking for but in all the wrong places: “Woman, where are those thine accusers?” he asked. “Hath no man condemned thee?” She answered, “No man, Lord.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” 211 
Think about those words: Neither do I condemn thee. If she understood who it was that was telling her this, she would be released forever from any perceived need to forgive herself. For this was the great and Eternal Judge himself—our “advocate” with the Father 212—telling her that he did not condemn her. And if he didn’t, then why should she still feel the need to condemn herself? The guilt we feel in our hearts can be taken from us only “through the merits of [the] Son.” 213 It is the adversary who tries to get us to worry about forgiving ourselves. 
("Forgiving Oneself" James L. Ferrell. Oct 25, 2014)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

We Listen to a Prophet’s Voice

Lyrics, Hymn #22
1. We listen to a prophet’s voice and hear the Savior too.
With love he bids us do the work the Lord would have us do.
The Savior calls his chosen seer to preach the word of God,
That men might learn to find the path marked by the iron rod. 
2. In ev’ry land, in ev’ry tongue, our prophet will be heard;
How swiftly round the world his voice reveals the gospel word!
The sacred message that he brings will witness and agree
With ev’ry prophet called of God throughout earth’s history. 
3. Hosanna! Let our praise ascend unto the Savior’s throne;
Rejoice! The prophet has confirmed that by Him we are known.
Attend, ye earth! The prophet speaks; come listen and obey.
He is the man who holds the keys of priesthood pow’r today.
 I had not noticed the lyrics before yesterday. It was inspiring to me to hear a song about our modern day prophets. About their authority to direct the work and to declare my willingness to follow their direction.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Repentance That We Call Forgiveness

James Ferrell said,
Any withholding of love is itself a sin. So to have held it back on account of what another has done is itself an act for which we must repent. Sometimes, the act that precipitates this repentance is for the one who has harmed the other to come and beg the harmed party’s “forgiveness.” I think it may be partly for this reason that we call the aggrieved party’s act an act of forgiveness. But make no mistake, when I as the harmed party respond to this request by giving up my resentment and my grudge, what I am doing is repenting—repenting of my failing to love. Forgiveness is simply the word we use to describe this kind of repentance. 
This kind of repentance—the repentance that we call forgiveness—is the most crucial kind of repentance of all. The Lord teaches us that if we don’t repent of withholding forgiveness, then we ourselves will not be able to receive the mercy that we need in order to be redeemed. ("Withholding Forgiveness" James L. Ferrell. Oct 22, 2014)
In the Lord’s prayer there is a part that is different than the others. (Matt 6:9-13) The only conditional part is that we are forgiven our debts as we forgive our debtors.

I am seeing that my estrangement is from me not forgiving myself. And that my refusing to forgive myself is really a form of pride.  ("Forgiving Oneself" James L. Ferrell. Oct 25, 2014)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Giving Up Worry

I was at the missionary prep class for our stake this morning. I stopped to talk with some friends I made when we were in the same ward. I told them how much I enjoyed attending. I felt privileged to attend. I saw the power and sincerity and earnestness of those there. Both young and old. I felt like it is where I belong.

I asked them about their brother Randy. Randy is a friend of mine that left the Mormon church after discovering things that were disturbing to him. (Click here for more on that). I told them about my friend Sam Meacham who died earlier this year. Sam also left the Mormon church. I said that I had given up worrying about Sam and worrying about Randy. Worrying about their souls.

These are both good men. Who love their wives and are good fathers. They both chose that Mormonism didn't work for them. They are honest of heart and chose to see the ridiculous in the LDS faith. They both experienced the pain that can come from believing wholeheartedly and then having that belief come unraveled.

I believe in a patient God. I believe in a God that will wait for his children to choose to come to Him. I recognize that this is a story I told myself. I choose to believe it because I choose to believe it.

God either exists or does not. God is either like the LDS leader teaches He is or he is not. What matters most to me right now is that I live in a wholehearted manner. That I live with authenticity. I get to decide what is important to me. I can chose being powerful in causing transformation in the world.

I am becoming more and more aware of the amazing people that exist all around me. They are the people I meet each day. I was blind to them because I was so caught up in looking good and avoiding looking bad. I haven't stopped trying. What is making the difference to me is that I am aware that I still try to look good and avoid looking bad.

These amazing people are my wife , my children, my neighbors on my block. The scouts in our deacon's quorum. They are accountants and Buddhists and atheists and electricians. They are the humans I talk with.

I am caught in the paradox of the urgency of the salvation of souls with the patience of God. The paradox of sucking out the marrow of life and the peace of meditation.

I love my life and I give up worrying about my friends who are not Mormon. Or who have given up Mormonism. God is patient. If I have somehow found myself in the Cosmic truth we all are to accept to realize our highest potential, so be it. I recognize the absurdity that 90% of other truth seekers think that their truth is the way.

I belong where I belong because, from nothing, I say it is so. Love and grace and peace will come to the world because I say so. I willingly join arm in arm with all humans everywhere who also want peace and power and transformation of every woman, man and child on the planet.

I give up worry and I choose the urgency of transforming of the world, now.

What Does it Mean to be Wholehearted?

Brene Brown describes it like this:

In The Gifts of Imperfection, I defined ten “guideposts” for Wholehearted living that point to what the Wholehearted work to cultivate and what they work to let go of:  
1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for
6. Certainty Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”
10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control” 
Brown, Brené (2012-09-11). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (pp. 9-10). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Just for fun, if you had your calling and election made sure, what would change for you?

For me, I see myself as progressing from grace to grace as Jesus did. That does not mean I would stop making mistakes. I just would learn from them as Jesus did. I would be "really, really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly" ("Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence", Jörg Klebingat, Oct 2014)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Falling to Heaven: The Surprising Path to Happiness

Here are are links to excerpt from the book, Falling to Heaven: The Surprising Path to Happiness, by James L. Ferrell. These were converted from articles featured in Meridian Magazine.

Falling to Heaven: The Surprising Path to Happiness is available from Deseret Book.