Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Process of Conversion

"Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually" (Mosiah 5:2).

Those were the words King Benjamin's people responded with after his teaching. 

When I read this verse, my eyes focused on the words "in our hearts" and the follow-up with action: they didn't want to do evil, but to do good. 

The people heard the teachings of King Benjamin, and they felt the Spirit touch them.
Their hearts were changed.

It reminds me of how much I want to "do good continually" and how imperfect I am. As much as I want to do good, I still mess up. I've had some seriously spiritual experiences in my life. I have had experiences that have rocked me to the core and instilled in me a dedication to be better. I have had experiences that have changed my heart. And even though I know what good things I should do, I have a hard time really working that change of heart. I have a hard time being perfect (haha, don't we all?). I know I should be patient, but I'm still impatient sometimes. I know I should try to adapt to change better, but sometimes I just don't want to. It's really hard, and I struggle to give up some of my sins and character weaknesses... and those sins and character weaknesses are the words I substitute every time I run across "addiction" in the 12 step manual. 

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that, in turn, reminds me that I need to be patient with Jack's addiction. If I'm so attached to my sins and weaknesses, I really can't imagine how hard it is for him to detach himself from his addiction. I know that somewhere in his heart, he wants to be clean. He knows that too. He wants to be fully rid of his addiction, but it's a scary thought. He knows that his life will be more rich, more full, and just plain BETTER without his addiction. But we all know how hard it is to make changes and give things up that are such a huge part of us. I certainly know. And I don't even have all the pornography-chemical-brain-attachment stuff (don't you love how technical I am?:)) going on like he does.

Just like I have experienced a change of heart, even in the slightest, so has he. Just like I want to be pure and holy, so does he. Just like I struggle with overcoming my sins and weaknesses, so does he.

I need to be patient and keep working on turning myself over to God and leaning on the Atonement. And I need to worry about Jack a little bit less. I can't change him. But I can change me and hope he changes himself (through Christ. We all need Christ).

It doesn't take away the problem, but it does lessen the burden.

Jack messed up today. It was a bigger mess-up than usual. We were afraid of that. We made it to our destination yesterday, and I got to go to my conference today (by the way, it was amazing. in case you were wondering. and I am so excited for the upcoming school year!). We were both a little worried about him being alone in our hotel room while I would be at my conference during the days. But we've said lots of prayers, and he brought stuff to occupy his time (did I tell you he is trying to start a business?). I had faith.

I said a BIG prayer for him before I left his morning.

This doesn't mean God didn't listen to me. It just means Jack used his agency, and God didn't force him to do anything.

I really can't expect Jack to perfectly cast off his addiction every day, at least not with the typical definition of expectations. I can expect it in a hopefully optimistic kind of way. If/when that expectation isn't met, I can turn to Christ to help me through it. I guess I just mean that I can't demand that he perfectly cast off his addiction every day. But I can always be optimistically hopeful.

I expect that he works on his repentance and conversion. As long as he is striving to do that and has a ray of hope, we're going to be just fine.

I expect that I also work on repentance and conversion. As long as I strive to do that we will be just fine.

Like I said, I understand, at least a little bit, how hard it is to cast off sins and weaknesses. Over time, our lives will change. Right now, I can't expect perfection. I can expect hard work and effort. There will be mess-ups, but that is normal. I know he has experienced a change of heart. I know he wants to be pure and holy. He is struggling, and that is normal. Just like mine, his full conversion is a process.

It doesn't make it any less hard. But it lessens the burden.

"For most of us, conversion does not occur quickly or all at once; it is an ongoing process and not a one-time event that results from a dramatic or overpowering experience. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. Continuing conversion unto the Lord requires both persistence and patience" (Elder Bednar, Act in Doctrine, p. 79).


No comments:

Post a Comment