Friday, 14 November 2014

It's the Waiting Game

It’s the waiting game. It’s the realisation that people are not infallible. And it’s the sudden bursts of fulfilment, then the extended periods of nothing. It’s called patience. It’s called trial. It’s called strength, perseverance; yes, it’s endurance.

When I joined the Church, I thought, “Finally… men and women with righteous standards.” I believed, as the true Church, that concerns with regards to behaviour and self-conduct would be far from my mind. Two months into my membership and that dream was shattered. My first YSA activity (a Valentine’s dance); what a let-down.

I went from an all-time high to an immediate low. From expecting wholesome entertainment to unveiling secret combinations. I found the ones who were just as bad as, if not worse than, the typical modern world. It ended up being a night about who’s did the worst thing. From starting fires (proudly), to drinking, smoking and getting tattoos. Topics of sex and images of half-dressed men and women filled the air. I didn’t know what to do.

I went home that night and thought, “What’s the point?” If LDS YSAs are exactly the same as every other young single adult, why even bother monitoring close-knit group of friends? They did say that hard decisions would need to be made with regards to my non-member friends and that it would be difficult, but beneficial for my development as a convert. But my friends held true to what THEY believed in. Even though our standards differed, they stood by theirs. Granted, they pushed at my newly developed standards. But let’s be fair, they were new. Of course it’d take time for them to settle in.

I took a long hard look at myself and went forward in prayer. It wasn’t long before I realised that my entire outlook was wrong. Not everyone is perfect; in fact, no man (and for those feminists out there, I mean woman as well) is perfect. And just because they grew up in the Church doesn’t mean anything. Just because someone is a member or not, living the Gospel or not, doesn’t mean I should filter them out. Because, at the end of the day, the walls I build won’t keep them out, they’ll just keep me in.

My salvation is my own responsibility. It doesn’t matter what they do. I just need to do what I need to do. I’m not here to judge anyone or to tell anyone how to live their life. I just need to realise that not everyone is the same. I need to realise that opposition will come and views will clash. The important thing is how I react to those situations.

Do I cast someone out? Dissociate myself? Or do I follow the council of the Holy One of Israel and “love thy neighbour”? You see, what you do is up to you, and what I do is up to me. I can either leave you and avoid association completely, or stick by you and grow as a person.

I remember The Gospel of Jesus Christ, which Nephi so clearly explains, and remind myself that it was (and is) the fifth point I was (and am) on; endurance. There was a recent convert I taught with the missionaries and he said that endurance was a synonym for survival. Maybe. No. It’s more than that. Endurance is the ability to continue unhindered, whereas survival implies some level of damage. Endurance is there to strengthen us, to build us, to encourage us and to keep us on that strait and narrow.

As Elder Tew pointed out, we are to endure well. As Elder McAllister pointed out, we are to joyfully endure. It puts a slight spin on things when we begin to realise exactly what it means to endure. To endure means to keep the commandments and continue as the Lord expects. Endurance may be the final step in The Gospel of Jesus Christ, but it’s also the most important. It’s the start of our journey with Christ and the end of our journey finding our testimony in Him. Now we know the truth. Now we are more liable than we were before.

What does that mean? It means that it is my responsibility to keep my second estate and love my “neighbour”. It means that, even if standards differ, I cannot judge. It means that it is my duty to be joyful, uplifting, encouraging, and caring, regardless of the situation. It is my responsibility to keep my friends and make new ones; regardless of their views or situation. And to stay true to my covenants all at the same time.

So I did. I kept my non-member friends, who talk to me about the Bible, listen to me when it comes to the Gospel, inform others of my standards, and check in on me with regards to my mission preparation. I made new friends (the one’s at the Valentine’s dance), who accompany me to every YSA activity, hug me when they see me, talk to me when I’m around, and get excited with me when I learn or do something new.

But then there are the moments where you don’t. The moments where the lessons seem to come slower and the realisations come to an end (or so they seem). It’s the long drawn out process of delays with mission papers, faltering steps with family and getting into the routine of being a ward missionary. It’s when you feel you aren’t learning anything and you feel as if things could just continue as they are.

But they can’t.

It’s times like this when I’m reminded of Christ’s teachings to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 12:3: “Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Unlike Matthew 5, 3 Nephi 12 elaborates more on what Christ taught. Here, it specifies that those who come unto Him, even though they are poor in Spirit, shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. It encourages us to keep doing the things we need to do, despite the absence of motivation and/or encouragement. It inspires us to continue, to press forward with steadfastness and hope, even a surety of the promised blessings to those who are faithful.

I know that Jesus is the Christ, that He is my Saviour and Redeemer, even yours. I know that trials are there to strengthen us and to build us. And I know that these moments of silence are there to test our loyalty to Him and to keep us moving when all things seem to be going awry. I can see another set of bursts awaiting as I receive my advancement, endowments and mission call in the month(s) to come.

I may feel drained and stagnated now, but there are lessons to be learnt. There is patience to be built and fostering of seeds planted to take place. These are the moments that define us the most and I’m honoured to know all this, to experience it (because that is why we came to earth after all… to experience the things we never could).

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