The Poetic Corner: Forward Or Back

Forward or Back

another misadventure

another portion of your history gone wrong

you just wanna tear out the page

but the ink has stained too long

you think it’s sunk too deep

a second chance is long gone

so instead of forward

you turn back

no longer working on things you lack

your faith, your hope, your charity

you shun the things that set you free

and try to find the answers in

the lack of light and your favorite sins

the habits you have yet to break

the thoughts you hate and the words you say

they make a slave of you each day

but the key, you see, is not to look back

it’s to keep pressing on

finding faith in the Lord, not in the world

and before long you’ll find a change is in place

the things of your mind

and the pace of your heart

will begin to take part in the plan God has set

to make you like Him and erase your regrets

to put off the slave who causes you shame

to set yourself free

and take the name of Christ upon you

a new way to live

a beacon for truth

spreading the love of God to all

and it all begins on the point you now stand

move forward onto the rock of Christ

or back into the sand

Agency is something that we all possess. We are agents unto ourselves, meaning that we can choose how to set the course of our lives. God has given us this free will so we can be properly tested. He will not force us to choose good, but instead we must actively pursue Him and seek Him out.

We’re all guilty of the person described in the poem. At one point or another, or on multiple points, we have turned back to sin during hard times for a temporary “comfort.” Of course, there really is no comfort in sin. We convince ourselves that we need it and make exemptions through anger, sadness, loneliness, hunger, tiredness, etc. In consequence, we put a stop to our spiritual progression. We put spiritual chains upon ourselves and make ourselves into slaves. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is often referred to as the “natural” or “carnal” man.

King Benjamin, in the Book of Mormon, talked about the natural man and the agency of man. He said,

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)

The natural man, or the inclination within us to disobey God, is an enemy to God. To solve this, we must “put off” the natural man. Shun him. Shed him from us as a snake sheds its old skin.Howis this done? Number one, through the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ, and two, by “yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.” Instead of following the instinct to do evil, we must listen to our conscience, the secular world’s term for the Light of Christ within us.

It’s a small, subtle influence, but a very powerful influence as well. We can feel it when we go to church, when we open up and read the word of God, when we do service for others, etc.Thatfeeling is what we must seek for and, as King Benjamin reminds us, we must rely on Christ. Only through Him and His power can we change ourselves. Not just our behavior, but our hearts and our minds. We must become, as he says, like a child. He even lists some attributes for us to help us understand when we are beginning to change.

I know that through Christ and by submitting ourselves to the influence of the Holy Spirit, we can change. We can root out the natural man and become a saint, a true example of a disciple of Christ. When hard times come, don’t turn back to bad habits. Don’t look for comfort in sin, or comfort from the world. Seek the comfort that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can give you the strength to overcome all things and move forward, not back.

Rubik’s Life Lessons III: Sincerity of Heart

Lesson Three

Don’t allow the repentance process to become a memorized routine. This is, in a way, the opposite of Lesson One. Most often Satan would have us believe that changing is too difficult and therefore isn’t worth the attempt. Other times he tries to convince us that it is an easy process, and he lulls us into making it into something that can be done and over with in a very short period of time.

Since the day I learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube to the present day, I can’t count the number of times I’ve matched up all six colors. There were days when I probably solved it around fifty times in between walking from house to house. Thefirst fifty times I solved the puzzle it was a slow process. I had to keep looking at the cube and reminding myself of the correct twists. Now I can glance at it briefly and then look up at someone and have a conversation while my muscle memory performs the move.

This is not how repentance should become. Once we establish the method and have done it many times, it’s easy for us to slip into the habit of simply going through the process without any real sincerity or thought. I’m certainly guilty of this more than once. We must offer up ourselves, not by rote pattern, but out of an honest desire to love God and obey His commandments.

Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name. (Heleman 3:27)

The Savior Himself had some things to say on the sincerity of our hearts.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

Every time we solve the cube, it must be a unique, individual experience. We must give our full attention to it and not just glance at it briefly while our muscle memory does the rest. We must be sincere. The Lord accepts nothing less.

 

 

Rubik’s Life Lessons I: Easier Than It Looks

So, not too long ago some other missionaries serving near me taught me how to solve a Rubik’s cube. They had a Rubik’s cube in their apartment and, in frustration, I would watch them solve it over and over again. It got to the point that I had to be able to do it too. I had always wanted to be able to solve those stupid little obnoxious boxes. So I made them teach me their method and in a few minutes I found myself with a solved Rubik’s cube in my hands.

Strangely enough, there are a lot of life lessons that can be learned from this ingenious little toy. And so, this is the beginning of a series of short lessons that I’ve learned (and am still trying to correctly apply) in my life. I hope you enjoy them.

Lesson One

We are going to liken a Rubik’s cube to repentance, and for the sake of the analogy, let’s say that the Rubik’s cube in this lesson is an extension of yourself. Your spirit, your soul, your conscience, whatever term you would like to use. We come into this life with our Rubik’s cube solved. It’s perfect, but as we grow older some twists are applied to the cube and eventually we find ourselves all scrambled up. The colors are no longer in the right places and now we see that we need to solve our cube.

If you’re like me, you’ve seen someone solve one of these toys and thought “How in the world do they do that?” It just seems impossible. At least to me it appeared to be a task I would never accomplish. That’s often how we feel about repentance, and about coming to God to ask for forgiveness and then going out into the world to be a better person. We may feel that we will simply never be solved. We will forever be scrambled up and never experience the joy of having all our colors where they need to be.

You know what I realized after I finally got the solving method down? I realized it was so easy. I’m not saying that I understand the ins and outs of solving a Rubik’s cube, but I know a method, I apply it, and I solve the puzzle. I was amazed at how simple it was to solve it. When I solve it in front of people, they often express frustration at how difficult it appears and how they can’t figure out how I do it. I just tell them that I know a really easy method and I use it.

The same goes for repentance and change. It seems daunting, like an infinitely high mountain that we simply can’t climb over, but that’s only Satan trying to tell us not to try. Our Savior Jesus Christ is there telling us that we can climb that mountain. We just need to rely on Him and press forward, using the correct method: repentance. We recognize our mistakes and weaknesses. We acknowledge them to God and confess them to Him. If we have wronged another, we confess our mistake to that individual. We ask for forgiveness from God, relying upon the Atonement of Jesus Christ and having faith in Him. We right our wrong. Give back what was stolen. Replace the lie with truth. Etc. Then we forsake the sin andstrive to never commit it again.

This is the method of change. It truly is simple, and that is the beauty of it. I know that repentance is a gift given to us from God, made possible through our Savior Jesus Christ. God wants us to change and put off the carnal man within us. He would not make the method too difficult to follow. It takes courage, faith, and perseverance, but it is simple and easier than we think if we rely on Christ.