Forgiveness is my next iteration of gift giving, though I give it more to myself. To that gift, I wish to add another — the gift of partnering. No, I’m not talking about an eternal companion (although I don’t object to such “gift giving”). I’m talking about partnering with the Lord. Is there any better time than Christmas to partner with Him? Is there a better way to celebrate Christ than to commit or recommit oneself to the road of discipleship? With Christmas just around the corner, ‘tis the season to partner.
Partnering with the Lord has been a longstanding theme of Joy in the Journey Radio. Christ is the source of all true joy, so how can we maximize the joy in our journey without Him? And the best way to include Him is to partner with Him.
That partnering includes everything in life, not just the spiritual aspect. Christ’s work is “to bring to pass the eternal life and immortality of man” (Moses 1:39), which clearly has a spiritual component but cannot be complete without also including the emotional, mental, and physical aspects as well. Partnering with the Lord takes life to a whole other level when approached holistically.
And why shouldn’t it be so? Christ is interested in every aspect of our lives and blessing us in any way He can. If we partner with Him, He’ll want to help us thrive and succeed emotionally, mentally, and physically as well as spiritually. Thus, partnering with Him means involving the Lord as a full partner in the emotional, mental, and physical aspects of our lives as well as the spiritual.
Unfortunately, far too many think of partnering with the Lord strictly or primarily in spiritual terms; involving the Lord in the other aspects of their lives means primarily asking for help. They struggle with employment prospects, for example, and so ask for help in finding a job.
Asking for help is of course good. But partnering means more than just asking for help. It means counseling and involving in decision making. So instead of asking for help finding work, for example, partnering with the Lord means discussing how to approach your job search, sharing your successes and your challenges, and seeking His input as you decide what actions to take next.
Alma the Younger counseled his son Helaman, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good” (Alma 37:37, emphasis added). Involving the Lord in the spiritual aspect of our lives and heeding His direction will of course bring us closer to Him. Heeding His instructions regarding the emotional, mental, and physical matters of our lives as well as the spiritual will bring us all the more closer to Him. But He’s less likely to provide that direction when we don’t involve Him in those matters.
And what better time to involve Him than the Christmas season? In the holy trinity of holidays, we start with gratitude at Thanksgiving, then celebrate the hope for new life we have because of the birth of that new life in the manger, and conclude by resolving to act better in the new year. Partnering with the Lord in every aspect of your life is a wonderful way to celebrate the reason for the season.
That celebration will be most meaningful if it leads to actions that produce positive results. Many holiday traditions are simply rote performances; you do them because it’s that time of the year. But rote performance doesn’t change you. The richer celebration is one that leaves you changed, and truly partnering with the Lord will do just that.
If you are not now partnering with the Lord in every aspect of your life, now is a great time to start, for ‘tis the season to partner. Make partnering with the Lord your new Christmas tradition. When you do, He “will direct you for good.” And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But there’s another perspective of propriety. LDS singles can hold bitterness in their hearts towards someone they fault for their singleness. Never married singles can begrudge dating relationships that never worked out or simply never happened. Divorced singles can blame a former spouse. Widowed singles can embitter themselves towards whatever caused their spouse to die. Yet regardless of the cause, embittered singles can have beauty for ashes when they embrace the Savior and forgive.
It begins with awareness
Perhaps Sister Yee’s address spoke to me because I have my own need to forgive. My stake does absolutely nothing for singles. My leaders have responded to my pleadings by calling a stake rep who does absolutely nothing. They seem tolerant of a status quo in which sorely needed blessings are not received.
Naturally, what results inside me is a roller coaster ride, and I’m not talking about my pancreatitis (although I could be)! I know I shouldn’t hold a grudge, and so I want to resist the conclusion that my leaders simply don’t care. At the same time, I struggle to see any evidence that they do care. I’m left resisting a bitterness launching itself at my door, eager to enter, and I’m tiring.
In that context, Sister Yee’s recounting of the Old Testament story of Abigail seems apropos.
I like that phrase — “the weight of a warring heart.” It’s so poetic and yet so profound.
It happens with belief
If awareness is the first step towards forgiveness, the second must surely be belief. You must believe it’s possible for you to forgive before you’ll ever attempt it. If you truly believed it would never happen, you wouldn’t even try.
This is where many who need to forgive stop. They somehow link forgiveness with the other person, the object of their bitterness and hurt, rationalizing that since said person will never comply with whatever their judgment demands, forgiveness simply isn’t possible. That link becomes especially strong when that other person offended egregiously.
But forgiveness isn’t about the other person; it’s about you. It’s about stopping the canker of bitterness from blinding your vision and consuming your heart. It’s about healing the cancer that would steal your soul. Holding a grudge never punishes the other person; it punishes only you.
That’s why I found Sister Yee’s personal testimony about forgiveness so moving. Her experiences encourage belief that forgiveness is possible, even when the hurt cuts very deep.
Her confession that she “still has work to do” makes relating to her experience much easier for me. And her hope for herself give me hope for myself.
It continues with choice
Yet the part of Sister Yee’s address I appreciate the most appears towards the end, where she reminds us of the importance of timing and adapting that timing to the individual. Not everyone heals at the same rate, and so we should be tolerant as others pursue their path of coming to Christ in their own way.
That admonition to avoid judgments of timing is best applied within yourself. Extend kindness to yourself and allow your heart to take the time it needs to open to the Savior and experience the miracle of forgiveness. That kindness you extend to yourself by not insisting on a particular timetable promotes the healing you need. As Sister Yee testifies,
That last part is, I think, the key part of the journey of transformation the Savior promises. Unless you give to others what you have been denied, you’ll never be fully healed. Many LDS singles have been given ashes in their lives, but to receive beauty for your ashes, you must give beauty to others, for you always get what you give.
So release the weight of your warring heart, believe forgiveness is possible, be kind with yourself, and give to others what you’ve been denied. When you do, you will find beauty from the ashes of your life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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