Sunday, July 21, 2013

Don't Give Up

I don't write this for any particular reason other than it's been on my mind lately. We've all read the following passage from Alma 17 many times:

 And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla.

 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. (emphasis added)

I remember talking about that in gospel lessons, seminary, and etc., but didn't really think much of it. As I get older, however, I am feeling this situation hit close to home.

More and more, I almost feel surprised and excited to hear that an old friend that I come in contact with is still "...[my brother] in the Lord." I am noticing friends and acquaintances fall away from the teachings and lifestyle of the LDS church. They do it for various reasons, and I'll never understand their unique situations. However, it saddens me to see and learn of these personal apostasies, regardless of the reason (e.g., offense, addiction, doctrine, laziness).

I've noticed this with coworkers, mission companions and buddies, converts, people in my last ward, classmates from high school and BYU, family members, etc. I almost get the sense that my circle / network of stalwart and faithful members of the LDS church is shrinking, making it all the more important to make sure my own foundation is solid.

Every time I hear of one of these apostasies, it causes me to do some introspection. I run through their assumed scenario in my head and wonder how I would have responded, or what got them to the point where they decide, "You know what? I'm done with this. I'm quitting church." In all cases, I've felt the very personal and strong reminder that the course I've chosen to follow -- dedicated discipleship -- is still the right path. I can say that without any doubt and hope this same tender mercy / reminder comes to each of us as we face these sorts of challenges. Hold to the rod!


Adam Clark said...

Jess, I have been thinking a lot about this very subject. In fact, Amy and I were talking about it tonight (Sunday night). I made the observation that today, what I feel a pioneer is is almost in reverse of what it used to mean. Today it feels that the real pioneers are those who stay, who among all the difficulties and worldly ways, stay strong. I too have watched with great sadness many people I know and care about walk on to new worldly grounds, while I try to stand still and hold tighter to my family and the gospel. You know, it feels like once you get to the tree of life and take part in that amazing fruit of joy, there is no more iron rod there. The path is done. The only thing left to do now is to keep partaking of the fruit and hold on to those who still stand with you. I am grateful my family still stands with me. Thanks!


Jess Clark said...

I went home teaching last night and I think we had the exact same conversation you wrote about re: pioneers. We surmised that the pioneers who struggled physically across the plains must be looking down on us and asking us to be pioneers by simply carrying on the work and not giving up.

Mike and Adrianne said...

I have too many thoughts on this to write them all here. I want to say thank you for the reminder. This hits really close to home for me this summer. I confess that I've been struggling spiritually in a lot of ways. There is a lot I don't understand about life and trials. I feel tired. I feel like I'm treading water. I just want a second to breathe and get my feet under me and regroup. But for some reason, Heavenly Father doesn't think that is what I need right now. But saying all that, there is one thing I know about myself--I am strong. I am not a quitter. Like you said, I've decided this is the path I will follow and I will stick to it. Even if I don't have all the answers. But I guess I also have learned something in the last two years since Laila died--if I didn't firmly feel my feet rooted to the path I'm going down, I would not stay on it. I understand why there are people that fall off the path. There are challenges in life that are so personal and so hard and that beat us up so badly that it would be so easy to just give up. I am not someone to give up on anything but I know why someone would and I feel compassion and love for them. I think when we struggle with deep personal trials we can better understand others and their sorrow and not think too harshly about their choices for choosing not to follow. But also learn more about our own testimonies and realize how important they are to staying the course. It is nice to have reminders like this that we aren't on the path alone.

chelsey said...

All the more reason to love without judgement. No looks of pity, sorrow, etc. Those who've chosen a different path know and understand why they've made the choices they have. We don't know or understand why. I've found most of our friends that have left the church are in that boat. They will usually even admit they know the church is still true, even though they've left it. They can't seem to get themselves back because they feel church members and family members will and are judging them.
Just this weekend, we hired a guy in our ward that is inactive. He opened up about some of his past experiences as a teen in the church, his choices (which he admitted to be less than stellar), and his struggle to coming back to church. He has good values and tries to be the best father he can to his 5 girls. I had a strong impression that he needed to simply be accepted before he'd take the leap of coming back to church. I wish I could help him understand that he's only holding himself back, but until he has people willing to reach out and show friendship and love unconditionally, he won't come back. That sense of self worth is often what is missing in those that fall off the path. And that's one of satan's greatest tools. He wants us to feel unworthy, unloved, etc. Then we'll do the damage to ourselves. So, whatever we do, make sure not to judge them. They're most likely doing it themselves.

Jason said...

This subject becomes even more of an issue as you get older. I've had some of my best friends fall away from the church. It is painful to see them make those decisions. I had one of those Alma experiences somewhat recently. The joy you feel knowing that an old friend is still strong in the gospel is nearly tangible.
There is a pretty good chance that some of us will have children that will stray due to their own poor choices. My goal is to make sure my children know that I love them even if I don't like what they are doing. They need to know that they can always turn to me for help and acceptance. The day will come when they will realize the error of their ways.