The Gift of Life

31 03 2013


As a writer, I try very hard to make my characters “real.” They need to jump off the page, to breathe, to react, and to be believable. Often I’ve read books that make me feel that way–that I’m reading about a real person, and, if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll meet them on the street someday.

I love those realistic characters. But not only that–I am also intrigued by those stories of robots who somehow become sentient beings, or an actual person being made by spare body parts and being brought to life by lightning, or rocks or cars or mustaches that actually come alive! It’s thrilling and fun and I love reading books like that.

However, pondering Easter this week I was struck forcibly with the thought that the only Being with power over life and death is God.

I read over that and a little voice in my head said, “Duh. That’s so obvious.” But apparently it wasn’t, or it wouldn’t have given me pause.

Doctors do not have power over life and death. They can treat it for illnesses or set broken bones or put in artificial organs, but they cannot make it live.

Robots can do all sorts of things–and often with precision beyond human capabilities–but they are not alive. They are only machines.

Man can plant seeds and ensure the environment is friendly to their sprouting, but man cannot create seeds.

Man can love animals and raise animals, but man cannot create animals.

How amazing and how great and how truly awesome is the gift of life?

When God created the world, he “breathed into [Adam’s] nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).

That “breath of life,” our own unique, individual spirit, will be reunited again with our body after we die. On Easter, as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ–and, subsequently, the gift of our own resurrection someday–I can’t help but think that this should be the happiest day of the year.

“The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

“Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.

“Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption” (Alma 11:43-45).

Today, that fills my soul with hope and joy. He is risen!

Leave Them Be

24 03 2013


I’m working on a follow-up to my epiphany post, but it needs a bit more time to sink and settle. Hopefully, I’ll have it ready by next week.

Instead, I want to relay something that happened to me today.

I woke up this morning feeling crushed. So much to do, so far behind, the weight of a boulder on my back, hanging from my shoulders, pulling down my arms. Heavy.

I studied my scriptures, woke up my children, and went along with our normal Sunday-morning routine. (Sadly, our normal Sunday-morning routine seems to consist of us being late for church every single week. But I digress. That would be an entirely different post.) At one point, I could feel the squeezing in my chest, the one that magnifies flaws and responsibilities and unmet expectations. Before I could break down into a puddle of tears, a thought came to my mind: “Leave them be.”

My normal modus operandi is to drag those things around with me. To feel the weight and the flaws and the guilt. But today, I listened to that thought and I left them at home.

I didn’t drag them along with me (unlike my very physical and gigantic church bag), and I was the better for it.

I had one of the best Sacrament meetings I’ve had in a long time. I felt the Spirit during every talk, during the musical number, during the closing hymn. It was refreshing and uplifting.

When I got home after church, my burdens were still there, waiting. Turns out I didn’t need to take them along; they waited for me. But I was able to look at them with a new perspective.

I don’t want to oversimplify: I understand some burdens are attached to us in such a way that there is no laying them down. That the only way to find relief is for our backs to become stronger or for us to die.

But I do want to point out that I learned something valuable today: some burdens you can lay aside for a time–an hour, a day, for the length of a vacation.

And it is okay to do that.

The only way we can endure the burdens we are lugging around until resolution is if we take the time to fill our cup.

My cup was filled today. For this, I am grateful.

An Epiphany

3 03 2013


I am a staunch capitalist.

I believe in the American dream, the one that says if you work hard and use your ingenuity, you can be financially successful.

I even majored in business when I went to college.

Perhaps it’s because of these personality traits that I’ve always struggled to understand the law of consecration. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this is pretty important in our religion. After the Church was first restored, the early Saints tried to live the law of consecration, with all things common among them.

It didn’t work.

The Lord took the mandate away, and allowed them to live a lesser law.

I’ve been taking an adult religion class for a couple of years now, and my instructor calls this “The Samuel Principle.” As I understand it, when Samuel was prophet during Old Testament times, the children of Israel wanted a king. Samuel tried to dissuade them, citing how having a wicked king led entire civilizations into wickedness, but the people held fast. “We want a king.” My teacher has pointed out that the Lord will give us what we want; however, when we choose to live the lesser law, we are only eligible for lesser blessings.

In our religion class right now, we’re studying the Doctrine and Covenants. As we talked about the law of consecration, there were several things I understood better than I had before. For instance, instead of my idea of “having all things common,” which was that you had to share everything with everybody, I learned that instead, everyone turned their original property over to the bishop. He then redistributed that according to the needs and wants of the people. Everyone was required to work. And it was not okay to go into someone’s house and take his pocket watch just because you fancied it would look nice with your waistcoat.

As we discussed this, I had an epiphany.

I thought about the law of consecration in a way I had never thought about it before–and it suddenly made sense to me.

The law of consecration works like a family.

Think about it for a minute. A family lives together. (Sometimes they fight.) Everyone works according to their ability. They each have their own space and their own possessions. The wealth is shared among the members of the family; sometimes Suzy takes more resources because she needs braces, and other times Bobby needs some extra to go on a band trip. Bobby isn’t mad at Suzy and Suzy isn’t mad at Bobby. They aren’t keeping score.

They both do their chores, helping the household run smoothly. Sometimes they want things, and Mom and Dad look at the budget and say, “Sorry, we don’t have money for that right now.” But because they all love each other (even though they sometimes fight), they want what’s best for each individual. They don’t begrudge something fortunate happening to someone else.

The law of consecration takes this concept to a much larger, grander scale, but I think the same principles apply.

I think the most important part is the “not keeping score” bit.

It’s hard for us as humans not to compare. My cousin had this quote on her wall years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. I wish I could remember who said it so I could give proper credit to its author. It goes like this:

When we compare ourselves to others, we become either vain or bitter.

What’s the key, then, to getting to this place where we won’t compare ourselves with other people and begrudge them their good fortune? How can we prepare ourselves to live this higher law–and, in turn, receive greater blessings?

I think the answer to those questions lies in cultivating charity in our hearts.

“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.” (Moroni 7:47-48)

I’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s nice to have some direction.

Happy Sabbath!