Saturday, February 25, 2017

In middle school, I met a friend who became one of my very best in life so far. Upon first meeting her, I didn’t notice anything significantly strange or different about her until I met her family. A few months later, she went on to tell me about their situation; They were an actively practicing polygamist family. My friend expressed to me the disconnect she felt with this lifestyle and how she knew it was not of God. She explained many forms of abuse in different circumstances she had first handedly witnessed. She has since then left her friends and family and everything she grew up with and was surrounded by to escape the harmful environment of polygamy. A few years ago she took missionary discussions with her husband and ended up not getting baptized.  To this day, they both say the one thing stopping them is the plural marriage that members of our church practiced during the restoration and establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints while Joseph Smith was prophet.

This is why what we had discussed in my BOM class this week was so meaningful. In the book of Jacob, Jacob confronts his people for practicing plural marriage when not commanded to do so He gives them the law that they are not to marry of have relations with more than one woman. He also gives them the exception which states that unless the Lord commands them to do so “for the purpose of increasing His seed” (referring to members of the church) they will be held responsible for all of the pain and heartache of the women and children under such circumstances. He goes on to talk about women and how God views them in such a beautiful and tender way. The biggest thing I take from this is the reasoning given behind the exception. When Joseph Smith and the members supporting and sustaining  him during the early days of the restoring of the church according to this scripture, God commanded Joseph Smith to practice polygamy for this same purpose. Many women and even few young girls were sealed to the prophet in hopes of gaining access to the celestial world when he time came without any of the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that accompanies polygamist families today. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

This week in class we studied 2 Ne 4 and 9 which include an emphasis on Christ’s Atonement explained by Lehi. The description and explanation he gives is beautiful. “And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.”  The scriptures tell us that Christ descended below all things. Before he was crucified on the cross He prayed in a garden called “Gethsamane”. During the hours He spent there, Christ himself atoned for the sins of the world: meaning he felt and experienced all the terrible consequences and after effects that come from doing things that are wrong that hurt ourselves and others. Some of these include guilt, shame, regret, addiction, depression, anxiety, loneliness, despair. This was just part of the sacrifice He made for us. He also experienced and felt the weight of our personal trials and hardships we pass through in this life. His heart took upon the sadness that often comes along with the death of a loved one, the isolation paired with mental illnesses and disabilities , the physical pain of Cancer and impairing diseases, the injustice and inequality of haunting acts of prejudice.
Next time somebody tells you “I completely understand”, sadly they don’t. I commend them for their attempt to sympathize and offer support, however, the distance between sympathy and empathy expands and enlarges to a distance that we as human beings may not be able to fully comprehend in this life. That far-reaching distance is made up by the most selfless act of service the world has ever seen, Christ’s Atonement. Christ, our Savior, is really the only one who truly understands what we are going through because he experienced it himself personally. What a beautiful thing to me.
I remember in class talking about the nail prints in his hands and feet. It reminded me of a mission conference I attended previously. They talked about how Christ choose to keep these scars as a remembrance of His love for us. In class, somebody mentioned that He was the only one of Heavenly Father’s children that would have an imperfection in his resurrected body. Personally, I don’t believe this. I like to think that we will be given the option to keep scars and physical imperfections that have made us who we are. I was born with a port-winestain birthmark on my forehead and lip. When I was younger it was dark. It has lightened but remains the same size. I used to be embarrassed of it and would cover it up every single day carefully with expensive makeup once I entered junior high. I did this every single morning for about eight years of my life. On my mission, I stopped. I figured that embracing myself, my WHOLE self, for who I am and the body and imperfections that God had given me helped me to be more accepting of both myself and others. Today, my birthmark is one of my most favorite things about me. I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world. After I am resurrected, I hope God asks me, “Tessa, would you like to keep this?”. Because I will exclaim “Yes, yes, yes, I would!” Like Christ’s scars which stand as a reminder of His sacrifice (mostly for us), I believe that my birthmark is also a reminder of my reliance on Him. It is a symbol to me that He sacrificed because I, as an imperfect person with flaws and shortcomings, am able to feel whole and free as I accept Him and allow Him into my life. This is my hope and my perspective on how I might be able to someday keep something sacred and special to my heart to remind me of my reliance on Him throughout my journey here on Earth.