Saturday, October 25, 2014

What You Are

It's late October and the weather is comfortable. The leaves fall slowly from the trees, most of which are still full. In Utah it's unusual for these days to still be above 70 degrees like they are, and it's only a matter of weeks until the cold settles in. Then we will be knee-deep in sweater weather until April. The cold, dark days are not ones I look forward to. At the end of fall each year, I shudder as I look to the future months of being cooped up inside. 

Most of the people I talk to feel the same way. "I love the fall except that it means one thing: winter is coming."

We Americans love to think of things in this fashion: something ends, the next thing begins. The end of fall means the beginning of winter. For me, the end of midterm preparation means the beginning of preparation for finals. 

If it's a good thing in the future, we happily anticipate the change. If it's a dreary winter, it sheds its pall over any joy we may feel at the moment. Winter, winter. Ever looming, ever dampening our spirits.

What if, instead of concentrating on the future, we looked back? What if instead of focusing on the hurdles we must jump over, we instead focused on our past experiences?

What if at the end of fall, you took the chance to say, Can you believe all we've done in these brilliant months of light? April, May, June, July, August, September, October! We've just experienced seven months of beautiful, soul-filling light! We've had marvelous experiences of playing outside, walking to the park, watching things grow, and harvesting our fruits. Can you believe how much I've already accomplished? The assignments I've already done? How grateful I am for the time that has passed.   

And what if we then afforded that same gratitude to ourselves. Gratitude for where we've been, and who we are now. Not what we wish we were, but what we are.

I think most of us, when we imagine seeing ourselves from someone else's point of view, we focus on the negative. They'd see that I'm not thin enough. They'd see that I fail in this area. They'd see that I'm not as good at such-and-such as I'd like to be.

True progress cannot happen until we can see what we really are. 

In the past, I always understood this truth as recognizing what we lack. But in reality, children of God are not made up of simply a list of faults. We each have a strength of character, unique to each person, that we were born with. And if you've spent any time trying to improve yourself, there is some small success you can celebrate. You've spent one hour differently than you would have in the past. You've replaced one small thought with another. No success is too small to be overlooked.

This is more than a "feel good" exercise. This is Truth. Children of God are endowed with God's light. This is not exclusive to certain people or "watered down" because everyone has a piece of it. This is what you really are. Believe it. And find it within yourself to look back on what you are, and not on your insufficiency. What have you completed? Towards what have you already directed your efforts?  

Armed with the truth of what you are, the months of light behind you and the months of darkness ahead, you will shed your skins of weakness with a complete understanding of where you stand, and bloom once again in the full light of our Savior's love.

I'm willing to see who I really am, which only comes by celebrating what's past. Are you?

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