Abraham’s Obedience

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Why is obedience so easy in concept, yet so frustratingly hard in action? Why must following the Lord’s way be so beneficial, yet take SO much faith to walk? Lately, as I have been trying to follow the commandments given me I have gone back to Abraham’s amazing example of faith and obedience. In Genesis we read of Abraham and Sarah and their desire for a son, despite being, “old and well stricken in age” (Gen 18:11). The Lord blessed them with Isaac, and through Isaac promises to Abraham were preserved (Gen 21). What wonderful joy and love Abraham and Sarah must have had for such a miraculous blessing that Isaac was!

But then the trial of faith came to Abraham. We read in Genesis 22 that God commanded Abraham, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”

What pain! What frustration of spirit and mind that must have caused Abraham, and surely Sarah too! To offer up this son, whom so many blessings were already promised through, and so much potential and love was given to! To be taken away, with a simple command from God! We don’t know the progression of emotions that Abraham experienced. We don’t know the test that he went through to obey that commandment. But the more I have thought about it, the more I have agreed with myself that Abraham must not have wanted to obey. At least not at first. He HAD to have wanted to find a different way, or find some logic or justification behind the reasoning of God. BUT, incomprehensibly, in the end Abraham must have convinced himself that he wanted to sacrifice his son and obey God.

What is obedience if you regrettably, grudgingly follow the commandment?

What scripture says that if you obey a commandment grudgingly then the commandment counts for nothing? I believe Abraham was a good enough person that even without knowing exactly why, he convinced himself it was for good and it needed to happen. He convinced himself that he wanted to sacrifice his son.

Am I wrong? Is that a weakness or a mistake to sidestep the bereavement by convincing yourself you want the same as God? Or is it better to do it that way than to obey without really wanting to? Is there a right way to be obedient, a right attitude? Abraham maybe wasn’t doing it grudgingly, but instead sadly. Is that wrong?

In what way am I supposed to be obedient? May I go forward, sadly obeying, or should I focus on convincing myself that I want to obey, despite it being terribly frustrating and hard and painful? I think it will take some deep focus and reflection on the scriptures and myself before I will come to any conclusion. Do you have any suggestions?

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The Perfectionist’s Curse

When I was younger I was a perfectionist. It was a curse. There is no doubt in my mind that it was a terrible curse. I am so grateful for the experiences the Lord gave me so that I could tip toe out of that condition of the mind. I was never happy with myself. I never could do it well enough, I always failed a little, I always promised myself next time I wouldn’t allow myself to fail like that again, and so on. Why are we cursed with this feeling of complete and utter failure? Why has this unrealistic standard of perfection infected so many Christians? I can’t answer all of the questions over this issue. But I have many different experiences and ideas that have helped me cure myself of this false sense of damnation. I hope that these words will maybe help you in understanding that the Lord loves you despite inadequacies, and I hope you will understand that you can be completely obedient to the Lord without yet being perfect.

I used to work at a call center where once a week we were monitored by superiors and then would discuss with them about the aspects of the call. Here was a place for a perfectionist to bloom in full disappointment. I hated the program that was setup for getting monitored. It led us all to become perfectionists, and it led us all to ultimately never be satisfied with our work. I agree that there is a motivation to become better that we all should cultivate. But it should not be based on a pass or fail doctrine. One day I finally wrote my feelings out, which I’ll copy here. I think it has application to the perfectionist’s curse.

“When we get monitored, no matter how well we do, the “interview” afterwards almost always communicates negativity. The only way to have a possibility of not spending the majority of the interview discussing what you have done wrong is by getting a “perfect” call. there is too much emphasis on what we did wrong compared to what we have done right. Every week we have the hype and chance to be encouraged and complimented fo our good work; instead, we are told all our knit-picky mistakes ending with us losing our own confidence. We might have sought perfection once, but that slowly disolves into a relization that perfection is impossible and even an “acceptable” call is nearly undoable.

Instead, we should be encouraged by the good, uplifting aspects of our call effort. We should grow from confidence of successful progress rather than a foreboding motivation to reach an unattainable perfect call. Does anybody see what I am seeing? Perfection is our goal, yes. But it isn’t our measuring stick. We shouldn’t measure everything by how much it reaches compared to perfection. Perfection is not our standard, it is our goal.”

We can be praiseworthy, without being perfect. And we can be obedient without being perfect. We MUST know that to succeed in life and to use the atonement to its fullest enabling power.

When I was a perfectionist I used to think the atonement was only for a remedy, as my dear friend says, of spiritual sickness (sin). But, it is also an enabling power to become what we individually can’t do on our own. I think it takes an experience where you understand completely that obedience isn’t the question but simply an inability or lack of skill that you need. That happened to me when I was on a mission. I prayed for the ability to do something that I could never do before. It wasn’t a matter of perfection, it was simply a matter of ability, and I didn’t have it. So I asked for it, and it came. That’s when I finally realized that Christ’s sacrifice was not only for sinning, but also for doing things past what I am able to do. If there are things the atonement would handle that didn’t deal with sinning or being obedience then maybe I will just do the best I can, and hope that will be enough for when I am judged someday.

I have never played a single song on the piano perfectly. NEVER. And I used to HATE it! It was pure proof that I couldn’t do anything right. But now I realize that I will just do my best and know that that is what the Lord expects out of me, not perfection. The Lord will accept my best, even with its imperfections, and through grace and mercy He will pay for the slack. He will always pay for the slack as long as I give my best try and continue to try to become better.

Again, these are just thoughts and attempts and explaining an issue that I have faced, and an issue that I see others face. There is so much more to say: bottom-up pride where setting my personal expectations at such a high level that nothing but perfection was adequate, the misperceived feeling of guilt that comes with feeling spiritually sick, the misperception between mistakes, sins and where we should focus our efforts, gaining confidence in the Lord’s love for me despite my imperfections and others. But it will have to wait for another week. I know I am not perfect. But I know that that is completely okay with the Lord. He loves me, and He will continue to help me become better. As long as I keep trying to become better then I have not failed using the atonement, nor my life.

Eternal Friends

Holiday Beards

I'm in the yellow. Top to bottom (2.5 wks, 3 days, 1 wks, 2 wks)

It has been a LONG time! I’m sorry! I didn’t think I would get distracted from my blog so much because of being home for the Christmas vacation. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! It was great to be home with my family and let go of the stress that had been building through the semester… I guess I’m ready to do it all over again, though, since classes start up tomorrow! Hopefully my schedule, both with classes and work, is enough for me to handle it all. I know that my Savior will be there to pick up the slack of my inability as needed.

There is nothing better, though, than being with family and friends! Today is a good time to talk about the wonderful influence that I feel from those around me.

Christ spoke and taught on what manner of people that we are to become. He taught us of character, principles, virtue that is needed to become one of His disciples. We meet these people in our lives. Many times you recognize them instantly as that high caliber of person. Somehow by simply talking and interacting around them you understand how you personally might become better. They are lifters in the lives of everyone around them. Christ spoke in Mat. 5 and again in 3rd Nephi after he had resurrected saying, “And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God. And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God… Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth… Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”

I want to tell you about one person in my life that has been exactly what Christ has commanded us to become. This is a very deep and personal friend of mine. And they have literally changed my life. I have only known my friend for a few months, and I am eternally grateful for the influence they have had in my life. This friend deeply understands the gospel and has taught me so much about my own understanding of the gospel. I have learned to really look at the core of the gospel of Christ and not only the typical teachings. The scriptures of the Lord have opened up to a clearer perspective of what the Lord expects out of me. The atonement, faith, righteous works, charity, selflessness, trust all have been shown through example and love as I have seen this friend help both friends and complete strangers.

I am so grateful for the example of love and gratitude that I have experienced. Never has there been a time of knowing my friend that I haven’t felt uplifted and better about myself. I am SO grateful for this friendship. I will always be grateful for it. I am so humbled by the Lord’s hand in my life in this way. I hope that you all have those friends that you are always learning from, whether they are family or friends or coworkers. I will never stop learning from my closest of friends.