I try not to write too much about religion here on my blog. I don't want people to think I'm preachy. But every once in awhile I have a day that I just have to write about something related to my faith. Today is one of those days. Don't read more if you are not interested in this topic. While my sister + family was here I chose not to go to church or do much spiritually. I sacrificed this part of my life for three weeks (yes, I actually LOVE to go to church each Sunday and love to spend time reading the scriptures etc) so that I could spend more time with my sister and her family and also that there wouldn't be any fights about this topic while they were here. Now that they're gone, I'm getting back to my spiritual routines and oh how I missed them! I love the gospel of Jesus Christ! There, I've said it. I don't care what others think. It is not a popular thing to say and most people tend to think of religious people as some sort of nuts (there they do have a hint of truth - I can be quite nutty :D). But I really, really, really do love the gospel. It has changed my life for better and brought me so much peace, joy, love, understanding and good principles to live by. When I do nourish my spirit - I feel uplifted, edified, taken to a higher level from this sometimes depressing and sick world. I become a better person. I remember to be less selfish, more loving, more generous, happier, optimistic... The list goes on. Which brings me back to the above book. I was reading it last night and I couldn't put it down. Finally my reading woke Jay up at 1am and I felt I had to put it down. I LOOOOOVE Neal A. Maxwell. He is one of my favorite church leaders ever. He was the very first "general authority" I ever heard speak. To those not familiar with that title - general authority is basically one of our church's leaders. It would be too long to get into the details of it so I'll just say that. I wasn't LDS yet, I had barely started to investigate my current faith then (if I remember right). I don't remember a word he spoke that evening in Marjaniemi, Helsinki, but I do remember how I felt. I couldn't stop crying as the things he spoke about touched my heart so. It wasn't until years and years later when I had been LDS for a long time, I realized he is one of my "favorites". I always enjoyed his talks (he has passed on) so much. He has a special talent with words and the way he "paints pictures with his words". His talks are full of doctrine and after reading his words, I always understand details of the gospel so much better. I remember how years ago I always had to read his talks with a dictionary in my hand. He uses big words. Now I can get through his talks ok, usually without a dictionary. :) Anyways... I was reading about "Service and the Second Great Commandment" and pretty much highlighted the whole chapter. It talks about how so many people in our day are getting more and more selfish and less and less keeping this commandment (Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself). People are becoming so self-centered. The gospel is not about fulfilling your own needs above anything else. It's about working toward a common good, the good of mankind. Often you are required to sacrifice of yourself to help others. But by doing so you become a better, more whole person. It is so opposite of what the world teaches us today and I LOVE IT! Whenever I let myself slide into the "think of yourself the most" trap, I become miserable, depressed and NOT happy. Taking my "happiness temperature" all the time (using Neal A. Maxwell's words) just makes me self-centered. Yesterday was a bit like that. I heard some news that made me think of certain sad aspects of my childhood that relate to the present as well. All day I kind of thought about myself and how sad it was that certain thing was in a certain way in my life. I was wallowing in an Olympic-size pool of self pity (again Maxwell's words). I was not happy even though I got to go to a baby shower. Not until I got home and was reminded to "live the gospel" by reading this book was I uplifted from my misery. Now I'm "all happiness". The circumstances of my life/past haven't changed but my spirit has been uplifted to a higher level by the gospel. THIS is why I LOVE the gospel of Jesus Christ so much. It's not just some abstract thing in my life. It's as real as real can be. It affects my daily life for better. It is a true source of power and inspiration.
Some people say that "Christianity has caused so many problems". Well, those people weren't Christians even though they claimed so to be. They weren't living the gospel (= Christ's teachings). If you live the gospel, you do not hurt anyone and your influence in the world is positive, not negative. The more you understand the gospel in it's purity (there are many twisted versions of it available) and try to live according to it, the better person you are. Short and simple. If you are not living good, loving people, serving, helping, uplifting, being good - you are NOT living the gospel. Plain and simple. So you can't judge the gospel by some claimed Christians. People are far from perfect and most of us aren't living the gospel 100% (often not even close). You have to judge it as a doctrine. Will it make you a better person? (YES!!!) Will it make your life better? (YES!!!) Will it help you understand life more? (YES!!!)
Anyways... I'm sorry today's posting is so religious but I am so excited to be "back on track" that I was ready to burst and had to spend the bursting energy somehow. You, the reader, certainly don't have to agree with me or even read this. I just had to write. This is my faith and I LOVE it! I do always love to share my beliefs as in doing so I think I'm making the world a better place (if people lived the gospel = people wouldn't hurt each other in any way = better world!). But I only share if someone likes to listen. Hence the warning in the heading.
Lastly, a quote from this book:
"...How ironic it is to envy someone who has a pretty figure but who is a spritual cripple... Sophisticated selfishness is still selfishness, even when cleverness tries to pose as substance. Glibness by someone who leads a flawed life cannot cover, except cosmetically, the spiritual speechlessness that afflicts that person. Nor can large bank accounts fill the empty vault of the soul.
Think for a moment how different it would be if people took on that physical appearance which would reflect distinctly how well they are doing spiritually. How would some of today's so-called beautiful people really look? A highly publicized movie star, if her life were fully represented in her appearance, might be ugly, perhaps with a hunched back, a prune face, and a withered arm. In contrast, think of Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, whose beauty was not seen by the multitude. Under such telling circumstances - when the outer person reflected the inner person - whom would we applaud? And who would really deserve our pity?
...Are not the real heroes and heroines of today those who are givers rather than demanders, those who are selfless rather than selfish, those who share rather than grab... and those who do their duty quietly without the accompaniment of crashing cymbals and trumpets?"