By: The Normons //
The holidays have a way of bringing everything back into perspective. When you get that thoughtful gift you didn’t expect, or when you reconnect with a loved one you haven’t seen in a long time, it just feels good. We’re reminded that the world isn’t such a terrible place and that goodness is stronger than cynicism.
This time of year elicits gratitude for things we too often take for granted, not the least of which is gratitude for the truths that give our lives meaning.
We’ve compiled a list of some truths we are grateful for, and we’re calling them–wait for it–#Gratitruths. This is far from an exhaustive list, far from it! But if it sparks a few #Gratitruths of your own, we’d love to hear them in the comments below or on Twitter.
Non-Mormons will go to heaven.
I’ve been told I’m going to Hell for being a Mormon more times than I can recall. Maybe I just have too many friends of other faiths who care about the welfare of my eternal soul. They want me to forsake my “fake, Mormon Jesus” and embrace the “real Jesus.” I get that. They love me, want what’s best for me and don’t want me to be on the outside-looking-in on that great and dreadful day. I genuinely appreciate the gesture, even if I see things differently.
I prefer looking at salvation not as a cliff where there are black-and-white winners and losers, but instead as a course we are all walking toward the Light. We’ve all been walking this course for a long time and we’ll continue even after we die. But what matters most is that we are each taking steps in the brighter direction, toward the Light. Mormon scripture explains that when we’re living right, this Light “grow[s] brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24). This light is available everywhere we seek it, including all religions and world views.
So why then are we sending out missionaries around the globe literally banging people’s doors down to share the message that God has restored His Church and Kingdom on the Earth today if it doesn’t really matter?
The former Mormon Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, answered that question this way:
“Let me say that we appreciate the truth in all churches and the good which they do. We say to the people, in effect, you bring with you all the good that you have, and then let us see if we can add to it. That is the spirit of this work. That is the essence of our missionary service.”
Of course there are things we can add—and there are things we can learn! That’s the idea. None of us has a monopoly on Truth; each of us has light to share.
So everyone: quit hogging the light you have, and start enlightening the world with the goodness you have!
No matter our weaknesses or imperfections, we all possess the divine potential to become better.
As unique members of the human family, each of us have our own different strengths — personality traits that make us special, gifts that we’re proud of, talents that we use to bless the lives of others and that we channel & embody when trying to be our best selves.
But we also have weaknesses. And these weaknesses may hold us back from becoming the person we ultimately want to be. Some we may be well aware of and may be working to overcome: perhaps difficulty in beating an addiction, inconsistency in working toward our goals, a lack of patience, a tendency to judge others, an aversion to service.
Others may affect us in more suppressed, subconscious ways, and we might even be unaware of them until the right circumstances bring them out: a propensity to selfishness, a proneness to gossip, a tendency to manipulate others, difficulty in taking responsibility for our situations, a lack of trust in ourselves, fear in asking for help.
But no matter our individual struggles, our situation is NEVER a hopeless one. With the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are NEVER a lost cause and we are NEVER alone.
As church leader David A. Bednar taught, the Atonement of the Savior offers not only a redeeming power, but an enabling one: we are not expected to “make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, and with our obviously limited capacities.”
We have a loving Heavenly Father who wants nothing more than to see us happy and help us to achieve our righteous desires. He knows the things we struggle with and the weight that we carry. And He has instilled in each of us a divine spark — a capacity to improve, and to overcome our internal stumbling blocks by “relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.”
So when things are difficult, and a certain barrier seems insurmountable, remember the words of the apostle Paul: “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.”
You can have a deep and personal relationship with God.
My commitment to Mormonism hangs on that knowledge. Because I believe that most churches have a lot of truth and lead people to live happier, more peaceful lives. But the founding principle of Mormonism is that the heavens are open again and God will speak to each one of us. I find that amazing!
Because I believe Mormonism on a lot of logical levels, but that isn’t really enough. So many people have poked so many holes in my religion, and I have joined in the hole-poking myself at times, but the one thing I can never question is the times I have felt the love of my Savior. I have felt his love and heard his voice, and it has made me unable to deny that there is a higher being who knows me personally, who is aware of my life, and has given me very direct guidance concerning the path my life should take.
It’s like having a Dumbledore or a Jiminy Cricket or a Fairy Godmother on your side, only so much better because it’s not a fairy tale!! Call me naïve, but I believe that there’s a higher power on my team and on yours.
I also like the fact that though God speaks to all of us, he speaks to each of us differently. How could he not, when we are each so different? I believe that he knows us, and that he speaks the native language of our souls.
Having a relationship with God has brought so much comfort. I like knowing that I don’t have to figure life out all by myself. And I like that sometimes I won’t figure life out at all, but I can feel peace and find happiness regardless.
I am forever grateful for personal revelation, for the happiness and direction it has brought to my life.
God does not expect us to be perfect people.
I am not flawless. And I most certainly did not wake up like this. Yet for reasons unknown, I—and many of us—place the unreasonable burden of temporal perfectionism on our shoulders. A false concept of perfection is perpetuated by everything around us. People post “perfect” pictures of their “perfect” lives. Meanwhile, we are reminded just about every day that we are, shockingly, not perfect. We forget things. We say the wrong thing. We fail at seemingly everything. And that reality is taxing. Two nights ago, I left my keys in the door and ice cream melting on the counter instead of in the freezer. It definitely wasn’t ideal.
But in Heavenly Father’s eyes, actually achieving mortal perfection is so far from critical. What actually matters is our desire to be perfect. D&C 137:9 reminds us of this, “For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.”
So this is the bottom line: if we do the very best we know how, then we are perfect. This is not contingent on our knowledge or our abilities. It is the very best you know how. We can do this when we are grateful, when we strive to learn and improve, when we are honest, when we are willing to serve.
And most importantly, we can continue to do our very best by using the Atonement. Jesus Christ can make us perfect when we utilize the repentance process. He can remove our flaws and our mistakes through that powerful gift. Beyond that, we have been promised eternal perfection if we just keep trying.
This week, I am especially thankful for the #gratitruth that perfection is actually just a desire coupled with effort, not an unachievable standard.
Joseph Smith’s imperfections inspire me to believe in God.
The more I learn about the LDS Church’s first prophet, the more impressed I am that God is real. A woefully undereducated, but marvelously curious young man named Joseph Smith was remarkably concerned (as far as 14 year olds go) about the fate of his soul. Amidst this introspective anxiety, he asked God which of all the many churches was right. That simple prayer gave way to a miraculous moment: God himself appeared to Joseph and told him to join none of them, but that He had a special work for Joseph to do.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is now a powerful force for good across the entire earth, and it was built on the back of Joseph Smith’s prophetic wisdom. He was tarred and feathered, imprisoned, and ultimately martyred for his efforts, and the LDS Church’s influence–in international affairs and individual hearts–justifies the sacrifices he made on Christ’s behalf.
Of course, Joseph Smith wasn’t perfect. In fact, in some ways, he was as or more flawed than the next guy. Much ado has been made about his polygamy recently. But it strikes me as a deeply humbling truth that if God can speak through and work with someone who is imperfect like Joseph, then maybe there’s hope that God can do something through me.
And I’m deeply grateful for that.
We are grateful for the knowledge that Jesus Christ, the Son of the Almighty God, is alive and well. He overcame sin and death for us and stands as the Ultimate Truth for all who seek Him. Of this reality, we are particularly grateful.
We wish everyone a very grateful (and delicious) Thanksgiving!