Friday, October 19, 2012

The Un-Spoken Talk

When I first got my mission call, I was told that they would not give me a topic to speak on since my Single's ward likely would. My single's ward never said anything about speaking in church so I started to write a talk on "whatever I want". Eventually my single's ward asked me to speak (which the talk is already posted on here) and my home ward has given me a new topic- so I have a talk I haven't given. 
Mind you, it's a "super-rough-draft" because I never finished it. But, I still think it has a place somewhere- so I'm posting it here:

So here is that talk I never gave:

"Today I’m going to speak about something we’ve all hear a million times. Even outside of this church, we’ve heard it time and time again. Apparently we don’t really get it, or we wouldn’t have to be reminded over 40,000 times. Literally- there are over 40,000 talks, scriptures and LDS references about Love and Service, yet we’re still not doing being reminded.
Love encircles everything we should be doing here in life. When a lawyer once tried to tempt Jesus and catch him off guard by asking In Mark 22:35 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” but Jesus had no trouble responding and said “Thou shalt love thy God with all thy heart and with all thy should and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment and the Second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
It sounds pretty simple. It should be really easy. Yet, we’re still being told we’re not fulfilling those commandments. Even just this conference, we were reminded by President Uchtorf in a talk, not actually, but which could affectionately be titles “STOP IT” when he said “It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and his children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters”.
But even President Uchtdorf’s straightforward speaking- we still haven’t gotten it. Maybe we just don’t know how to do it. How do we show love? How do we prove that we have Love for God and for his children, and if we don’t how do we get it? If you listen close, I’ll tell you the secret.
First I’ll start with some eloquent, eye opening lyrics.

“I’m trying to be like Jesus, I’m following in his ways.
I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice.
But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,
Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught”

So the first Key to solving the problem of loving other is: Follow Jesus, be like Jesus. At least try to be like Jesus.
            I want to take a quick moment and clarify something. 1. I hope you don’t think I’m making light of this principle, because although simple it is incredibly critical. And 2. I am incredibly humbled by this topic- it’s one of those that’s equally for the speaker as it for the audience. Because of that, and with so many friends and family here- I want to take 2 seconds to apologize for any time that I have not represented Jesus Christ and shown how much I love you. I do, as does He.
As I prepared for my mission, I realized that sure- I grew up in the church- sure I showed up to seminary 99% of the time- sure I went to primary and young women’s and relief society- sure I attended BYU and got good grades in all of my Religion classes, but the more I studied the more I realized how much I didn’t know. I felt (and still feel) pretty overwhelmed in my limited knowledge. I feel a little like Nephi when he was asked about the condescension of God and replied much like I think I would have “um… I know that God loves his children, but I don’t know everything”. He said it much more articulately than that, but I imagine him feeling very humbled by what he was being taught.
Even thought I don’t know everything, and sometimes the more I learn then less I feel I know- I’ve realized that God has slowly but concretely taught me the most fundamentally important aspect of the gospel- which is how he feels about his children.
I could give a thousand examples of ways he has taught me this, but that would put us way over time, so I’ll try to quickly get through just a few.
The first time I remember recognizing the love of God for his children, and I mean really feeling and recognizing it- was when I volunteered at a Special Needs camp. I worked with several children, but one of the children I specifically helped throughout was named Tristen. I don’t know the details of Tristen’s special needs other than he was blind. He was very young, but full of life. The memory of him laughing and playing with us, with such immense joy through his trails has stuck very strongly with me. I remember, almost as if the beautiful day paused for a moment, thinking about what an example of Love Tristen was, and through that- I felt incredibly amounts of love for him from our Savior.
Another time that I remember recognizing the Savior’s love for his children was in Fiji. I went there with almost prideful service expectations. Yes, I was going to help these people by building them septic tanks, they needed me. But I did not expect the profound, yet simple lessons I would learn there. One particular lesson was taught very directly to me and my friend from an elderly man named Toma. Toma let my friend borrow his hammer, and while using the hammer- her broke the handle. My friend was terrified to tell Toma about it, because he knew that this was pretty much the only tool Toma owned. But in honesty, he brought the broken hammer to Toma and apologized immensely, telling him he would pay for it. We didn’t expect Toma to be angry, but we also didn’t expect the incredibly kind and wise words that followed. He said something along the lines of “This? This is nothing. Hammer is nothing. Only life is something. When you leave, I will miss you. That’s in the heart. It is love. That is something. But this? This is nothing, only life is something.” It was such a profound lesson of love and forgiveness. Nothing else matters but life- and in life the way we treat each and show our love for each other by following the example of Christ.
President Uchtorf also taught a similar lesson in his talk entitled the Love of God when he said “Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do… Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities and nations…. Love should be our walk and our talk. When we truly understand what it meant to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take a new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden” (Uchtdorf)
I want to point something out about these expereines that taught me so much. Did you notice that they all have a common theme? That theme is Service. I saw through service, a Christ given light in every person. God loves his children.
God loves us so much that he gave his only begotten son- is there a sacrifice or a service more than that? No. There is not. The time I truly came to recognize the meaning and depth of that example of love, came when I heard Elder Holland’s talk “None were with him”. When I heard Elder Holland read the cries of the Savior in his final moment, a way that I had never heard before “My God, my God, why has THOU forsaken me?” I can not imagine not only the sacrifice of letter His son go through all that he had to endure, but then having to withdraw briefly so that Christ could truly, fully, and ultimately know what- as Elder Holland put it “This perfect son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind- us, all of us- would feel when we did commit such sins…. But Jesus held on. He pressed on.” And then because of this, because “Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so” (None were with Him). There is no greater love.
            So if Christ  and our Father love us that much, so indescribably much, how can we return that love. We love him don’t we? We can never return fullfold, but we can show that we love him. How so? President Monson explained how when he said: In reality, you can never love the Lord until you serve him by serving his people”"you+can+never+love+the+lord+until+you+serve+him+by+serving+his+people"
            No, we can not Love 100% as he did, but we can do much- much- much better than we are doing now. I remember learning this in a fun, yet profound way, at a BYU Devotional only a year or so ago when President Monson quoted The Lion King. He used this reference to explain to us that we need to remember who we are so that we can act our part. He Referened the exchange between Simba and his departed father, Mufasa, when Mufasa told Simba to “Look inside yourself, you are more than what you have become. Remember who you are. Remember. Remember” and President Monson extended that by reminding us that we are “a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. You came from His presence to live on this earth for a season, and to live in such a way that you are an example of the believers and a true light to the world” and later he pointed out that this light we can have, when encountered by others “radiates the Love of the Savior and helps us feel his love for us”."lion+king"
            When I think of people who radiate the light and love of the Savior, I can not help but think of my niece Hailey. She has taught me a lot about love and kindness and forgiveness. One such lesson came in a simple and profound way when her and I were having a sleep over. She had just turned 3 years old.  As I was putting her to bed, I asked her if she had said her prayers. She responded with something like “Yeah, I talk to Jesus”.  I thought that was a great, yet interesting way to put it, so I asked her “Oh yeah? Well what does Jesus say?”.  And then she replied, in the most profound, in depth, perfect, honest, true statement I may have ever heard- she said “He Love Me”.
            I almost didn’t know how to reply, so I just continued to pry and asked her “… what else does he say?”
            She responded in an almost DUH kind of way “Just He love Us!” and then she turned to me and said sincerely- “I love you!” and gave me a hug and a kiss.
            He loves us.
            The simplicity and innocence of that conversation with my niece, reminds me of another Primary song that has profound and personal meaning.

            “I feel my Savior’s love,
In all the world around me
His Spirit warms my soul
Through everything I see.
Give all my life to Him
I feel my Savior's love
The love He freely gives me.
By serving others freely,
In serving I am blessed,
In giving I receive.
Give all my life to Him
I feel my Savior’s love,
The love He freely gives me.”

He knows I will follow Him,
I’ll share my Savior’s love
He knows I will follow Him,
I love that line “Ill share my Saviors love, by Serving others freely”. It’s that freely part that gets my attention. It reminds me of the Talk my Cousin- currently Elder Curtin- gave before leaving on his mission. He pointed out that in order to obey the great law, you much have Charity, which his the pure love of Christ. But that charity is not simply a set of actions that one merely performs, such as donating money- not that that is bad, it’s not- but as he stated “actions alone are not what constitutes charity. Charity is doing what is right for the right reasons- it is not an act but a condition or state of being”. Serving others in whatever means is great, it will help others feel the love of Christ, but until you serve FREELY- or in other words, until serving becomes a natural way of life rather than a forced action- you cannot have pure Charity.
            We all have opportunities to serve every day and I doubt we take even 10% of those opportunities. I have taken a lot of time today and in preparation for this talk on a seemingly simple topic and I’m so humbled in my short-comings.  I hope that we can all become more charitable.  We can pray for opportunities to grow and learn and act in Love and Service. I’m grateful for the opportunity my Father in Heaven has given me to serve a mission and in so doing, hopefully be able to bring his loving message to his Children in Hungary- because although I don’t fully know it yet. He loves them as much as you and I. It reminds me of the conversation repeated 3 times in John 21:15-17 to Simon Peter- Lovest thou me? The Savior asks. Simon Peter responds- Yeah Lord, thou knowest  I Love thee. And the Savior replies with a call to service and love when he tells Simon Peter “then Feed my Sheep”.  Testimony….

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