In church this week I was asked to give a talk about
Not being deceived by Satan about our worth or God’s feeling toward us.
As I spoke, I realized that my message was entwined
so deeply within my soul,
that I needed to share this somewhere else important- my blog.
So if you've ever been curious about what I believe,
or what Mormons believe.
Here is a lot of it.
I hope that it brings you, at the very least, a better understanding
of who I am
and of who I see you as.
I think what the above mentioned topic really boils down to in less words is
Understanding your Unalterable Individual Worth.
Let me break this statement down word by word to explain what I mean.
Understanding Your Unalterable Individual Worth.
The first word is “understanding.”
How easy is it to be deceived by someone
if they are explaining something that you don’t understand?
The dishonest car mechanic would have you believing you need thousands of dollars worth of work done on your car because you truly don’t understand what is wrong with the parts. The dishonest lawyer would have you believe you need to pay to go through too many legal processes so that they can make an easy payday off of your lack of understanding.
But here’s where this gets important.
Are all car mechanics dishonest? Definitely not.
Are all lawyers dishonest? Although some may want to debate this fact,
again the answer is definitely not.
In fact, my mother is a lawyer who started her own law firm
and I have watched her work tirelessly
(and sometimes without pay) to protect and serve her clients.
She is a true super hero in her own right.
So would I recommend her to explain something legal to you? Definitely!
Because she is a honest person.
Understanding something fully comes from being taught by an honest and trustworthy source.
Who is the most untrustworthy source out there? The answer is most certainly, Satan.
He is the dishonest defector from the fold who wants to gain satisfaction from our pain,
but we have the choice to be taught by those who are honest and just.
Our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, teach us truth through scripture, the words of prophets, and the promptings of the Spirit.
Here’s the tricky part though.
In life, when people tell us things that we know are wrong
(because people, even honest ones, are imperfect)
we generally can disagree and move on.
However, Satan’s deception extends further that a verbal statement.
He attempts to dwell in our minds, sewing his seeds of deceit into our very thoughts, and disguising them as our own!
Is it any wonder that one of his names is, The Father of All Lies?
There is only One great enough to banish Satan from our thoughts,
for light and darkness cannot dwell in the same mind together.
We can choose to seek TRUE understanding by allowing the Spirit to bring the Light of Christ to our minds and by denying Satan a place within us.
The few, humble words of a primary song that our children sing,
“I am a Child of God,”
can banish from the battlefield our greatest foe and remind us of real truth.
We are children of God!
Not just one of us, or one hundred of us.
Every single person who has every lived
and does live
and will live on this earth
is a CHILD OF GOD.
This is the truth that our sweet missionaries sacrifice years of their life to teach people throughout the world. They carry the Light of Christ to those who they serve and they help stop Satan’s deceit each and every day.
A story to go along with my explanation of “understanding:”
Once there was an LDS missionary serving in Russia.
She was constantly dealing with the biting cold and overwhelming rejection of the people there.
One week she and her companion were able to teach a lesson to a woman.
As she taught the lesson, she came to a part where she asked the woman if she was ready to pray to find out if God was real and if the gospel was true.
The woman looked at the missionary with anguish in her eyes and she explained how she lived and slept in a lice infested bed, wedged in between hundreds of others, at the factory where she worked. Each day she completed hard manual labor that left her drained and depressed and then after the lights were turned off for the night, others in the factory would beat her and do awful things to her. “How can I even think about if this gospel is true, if my life has no worth anyway? There is no purpose in my existence.”
The missionary felt her heart bursting with what she could only imagine was the love of Christ for this woman and she told her that she did in fact, have worth.
She told this woman that she was loved by the Almighty Creator of this world and that she was His beautiful daughter.
The missionary cried out in sadness to her mother as she wrote home the next week at not being able to do more for this sister. That wise missionary’s mother reassured her, that she had in fact, done the best thing that she possibly could have for the woman. She had shined a light on the truth and planted a seed of hope for this woman to find a true “understanding” of her worth.
That missionary, Sister Johnson, is my sister and she is still trudging through the freezing streets of Russia doing work that is the holiest of all - teaching her brothers and sisters the truth about God’s love for His children to all who seek the light she holds.
The next major word in my condensed topic title
“Understanding Your Unalterable Individual Worth”
I am certain that many of us (or ALL of us) have had moments where we have hurt others or others have hurt us in ways that we have great difficulty forgetting.
Those moments may change the way we view ourselves.
They may change the way we view others.
Here, again, Satan swoops in with thoughts like,
“There’s no way they can ever take back what they did.
They can never make things right.
They must have done that on purpose to humiliate me.”
And especially, “I am no longer worthy. I’ve gone too far.”
Although these moments may impact our mortal memories, there is one who forgets our sins and the sins of others the moment we reach out to partake of the atonement of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and be whole again.
Our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us and created us with endless love.
There is literally NOTHING we can do that can change our worth.
We can allow Satan to influence us.
We can ignore the sacrifice of our Savior.
We can lose sight of our worth.
BUT our worth does not change based on our actions!
God does not love you less when you shut Him out.
There is NO ranking system where those who have made the most right choices in life as being the most worthy to be loved
and those on the lower end of the spectrum aren’t allowed to reach out to God.
God loves each of us as His children and our potential for good can only be stifled by bad choices. Our worth is never lessened.
Our Heavenly Father loves us every day for all of eternity and the only thing that changes
is that His heart must break a little (or a lot)
when we stray or allow Satan’s influence to guide us.
As I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon for our ward's 60 day challenge,
I found myself thinking the same thing that I have always thought each time I read it.
(People about to be discussed here are from the stories in the Book of Mormon that we read as scripture alongside the Bible.)
“What is the point of Laman and Lemuel?! I mean why are they even in there?!
All they do is whine and complain and set great examples of what NOT to do.”
However, as I have read it this time, it suddenly dawned on me.
Maybe my heart was finally ready to understand this,
but I realized there was more to the stories of Laman and Lemuel than I ever thought possible.
Think about this if you will?
At what point in the stories of the Book of Mormon does Nephi say,
“Enough! We are leaving you behind!”
At what point does Lehi say,
“You’ve disrespected me too much! You are no longer my sons.”
At what point does Sam say,
“We are followers of Christ and you are not following Him, so get away from us.”
It doesn't happen often. As a matter of fact, it doesn't happen AT ALL.
Nephi, Lehi, and their family members love Laman and Lemuel.
They continually reach out to them to share the light of Christ, to remind them that they are loved, and to urge them to be righteous.
No amount of beating Nephi, ignoring visitations from angels, or disrespecting their family in every way possible can change the fact that they are worth saving.
Nephi and Lehi and Sariah and Sam all LOVED Laman and Lemuel.
They are broken hearted when Laman and Lemeuel choose to give in to Satan’s influence, but they never give up on them and they love them still.
I believe that THIS is why Laman and Lemuel are in the Book of Mormon- to show us that our worth is literally unalterable.
We are never beyond reach.
We can never step too far away from the Lord to decide we want to turn back.
We are never unlovable.
Our Father in Heaven is always waiting with His arms outstretched for us to let go of our pain and our sins,
even those that seem they cannot be lifted from our shoulders,
and run toward Him.
He is our Father and we are His children and that is “unalterable.”
The topic title was “Understanding your Unalterable Individual Worth”
and the last remaining words are “individual worth.”
We don’t just have worth.
We have individual worth.
What that means is that our Father in Heaven loves us so very much,
that he made every single one of us unique.
He gave us each our own talents, our own families,
our own history, our own lives, our own quirks, and our own souls.
There is not and never has been another Siri Baxter in the history of the universe. Might there have been other people with my same name? Of course.
But there is no other me. And there is no other you.
My church calling as activity day leader
(teaching activities twice a month for the 8-11 year old girls)
has only amplified my understanding of individual worth
as I have striven to know how best to teach each of my girls.
I love them all as a whole,
but I distinctly see the great skills and qualities that they share with our group.
I have seen one light up the room with her eagerness to share the joy in her life
in order to lift others up.
I have seen another think of the kindest words that need to be said to someone
and then have the courage to say them.
I have seen still another girl stitch up the gaps in people’s differences to bring them together
in the subtle ways that she reminds them that they are God’s children.
I have seen one recognize when a concept is good and true
and delve in completely to understand it and to be able to implement it in her life.
And I have seen another in her quiet determination to succeed at something new
and not give up when it’s hard.
Not only those girls, but I see things in all of the many people I encounter in my life.
I may not usually have the courage to walk up to people and talk to them to tell them what I have randomly been thinking,
but I find myself thinking wonderful things
when I notice the individual talents, qualities, and faith
of each of my brothers and sisters here on earth.
Satan would have us believe that we are not special and that we don’t have a purpose,
or that we are more special than others around us, and don’t need them.
But that is the thing about individual worth. We all need each other.
I believe that there is no one else who could have given me the hug and the love that one sweet sister did in the hallway last Sunday.
How she eased my troubled heart.
In this, and many more moments,
my brothers and sisters, have used their gifts of compassion to reach out
and remind me of my individual worth
and in the same moments I have seen theirs.
This is the point of being here together.
Satan never rests.
He commands many who follow him in his quest to bring us eternal misery.
But the fact is that we are not put here to face the trials of life alone.
We are given specific gifts and qualities that we will need.
We are surrounded by family, friends, and good people
who are willing to stand by us and take up arms in the army of King of Kings.
We are not here to judge others or to give up.
We are here to fight the good fight-
to fill this world with so much love that those who have never heard of Christ
will FEEL how much He loves them through us-
to banish the darkness from our minds
and strive continually to remember that we are loved by a Father in Heaven
and by our Elder Brother, who gave His life for us, that we might know of our worth.
He did not take upon him our sins and pains
with the stipulation that we repent or He would not go through with it.
He did it that we might remember how infinitely He loves us
and loves our Father
and that we might, in humility, find our way back to the light
because there are no conditions placed upon His love for us.
May we always remember the vital importance of
Understanding our Unalterable Individual Worth
and never let the Adversary take that understanding from us.
May we look at others with compassion,
seeking to see their strengths and forgive their weaknesses.
And then may we look at ourselves the same way
and understand that we have a divine destiny to have eternal joy
with our Heavenly Father and those who we love.
The Lord states in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 18:
“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. For behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him… And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!”
In one last verse He tells us,
“And if it be so that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people,
and bring, save it should be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my father.”
Sometimes that one soul that you have to find and bring unto Christ is your own soul.
Our Father in Heaven loves you with all of His might and I know of a surety that He loves me.
I can feel the Adversary trying to distract me from this knowledge and deceive me,
but I am resolved to endure to the end,
repenting when I inevitably fail
and always seeking the light of our Savior to remind me who I am.
I am a Child of God.
And so are you.