Ahh, what a gorgeous day here in Arizona! It’s rainy and overcast and coolish. There is a gentle breeze and I have been listening to Christmas music all morning. What a beautiful way to start the day. I have no idea what has gotten into me about Christmas this year. Well, I do feel a lot closer to Christ, so maybe I just want to snuggle down into the celebration of His birthday a bit.
Snuggling. It just sounds comfy. Snuggling into a soft, blanket-filled bed or into a blanket on the couch while watching reruns of whatever on Hulu or snuggling down into God’s word. There is so much comfort to be found in the words He has preserved for us, in this day. I am grateful, and frankly amazed, at all of the sacrifice by hundreds of people down through time who worked hard to preserve and protect and get us the scriptures we now take for granted. Can you imagine trying to live a Christ-centered life without them? It would be challenging at best. Now, in our time, we have them all nicely gathered together and bound in leather and we carry them around in pretty little cases. We have them but are the words snuggled down into our hearts? Do we carry them there more than we carry them with our hands?
I am growing a garden. I know, to those outside of Arizona, it may sound strange, but our seasons are just about backwards. Many vegetables do just fine over the winter here and I’m betting on warmer than average temperatures this year and hope to still get in some cauliflower. I have tomatoes, marigolds, and green beans up and doing well right now. I have some baby squashes too and lettuce, green onions, and the cauliflower seeds in, but no sprouts yet. We’ve even had the rain, so I haven’t had to get out back and water them as much. I’m excited to see what happens!
Today’s lessons were hard to read. Michelle’s story in chapter nine tells much of my story and it was hard to see it written on a page. It brought tears to my eyes and a lot of emotion that I thought I had worked through. Her message is to let yourself “off the hook” for things that were not your responsibility. In her words,
I’d long labored under a yoke of responsibility that had never been mine to shoulder, beginning with the responsibility I’d always felt to try to please my deeply wounded mom. That responsibility then shifted into adulthood to include working double-time to keep the effects of my painful childhood far, far away from my children. Eventually, I realized that they weren’t the ones from whom I needed to receive forgiveness. I needed to let myself off the hook – a hook on which I’d lived my entire life.
Of course there are other regrets, but I think much of my drive to keep working hard stems from thinking that I needed to become to be cherished for who I am. There was no one there telling me that, in fact, I know my parents love(d) me very much, but we always have needs that aren’t met and, when one parent happens to struggle with their own issues, it all seems to compound onto itself.
The OA message was snuggled right into Michelle’s. It is that “yesterday teaches me how to live today.” I bring with me all that I have learned. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could see all of our missed opportunities and what if’s with us as just plain learning material, like reading and writing? “Oh, I learned that if this happens then that happens and Christ can fix that too.” What a different idea of Christ we would carry with us and of ourselves.
AA seemed to slide right under the blanket of letting myself off the hook too. It is: the more I try to be different, the more alike I am with those around me. Don’t we all want to be different and special? Uniquely loved for just who we are? This message flowed in the General Conference message ((To the Rescue: We Can Do It by Elder Mervyn B. Arnold). He wants us to be mindful of those around us who may need encouragement, help, or who may just like a phone call or card. We can show others that they are uniquely loved by doing small things. Why does it always come back to the small things? Most of my promptings are about the small things in life. Small things tend to be the things that buoy us up in hard times – a hug, a smile, flowers, a kind word. They make us feel like we can get through it, whatever “it” might be and that we aren’t alone.
The Book of Mormon message was also along these lines. In verse 17 of Mormon chapter six Mormon cries out in anguish, “O ye fair ones; how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!” Another dose of comfort. Snuggle down into those words “open arms to receive you.” Can’t you just see Him standing there, arms stretched wide, day by day, hour by hour, just waiting for us to come to Him, to run into His arms and how much He must long for that? His sole purpose is for us to need Him and to run to Him that He might bring us back home. He alone wants to tend to our hearts. He wants to meet our needs, both spiritual and physical. He reaches when we aren’t ready to receive. He continually reaches for us – just as my little bean plants reach toward the heavens in anticipation of sunlight and rain to nourish and strengthen them. Reach little plants, reach and grow big and strong. Reach little souls, reach for your heavenly home. Reach for the blessings Christ is just waiting to pour down. Reach for the lightness of His yoke instead of the one we are carrying. Shed those responsibilities that aren’t yours and focus the ones you, uniquely, are asked to shoulder.