I recently got a new calling in the church. For those unfamiliar, our church it totally volunteer run by its' members. Although we don't choose our jobs, we believe that the Lord calls people to serve in different positions or callings to benefit those serving and those being served. I've been called to serve as a Relief Society teacher. The Relief Society is the organization of our church which consists of women. We meet for one hour every Sunday and have a lesson. Like Sunday school just for ladies. The men meet separately also during that same hour. We also have just regular Sunday school where we are all together. So yes, if you do the math, our church is three hours long every Sunday, and it's often the best three hours of our week.
I was totally thrilled with this new calling because since I joined our church what fifteen years ago, I've always wanted it. I wanted it not because I felt I'd be good at it, but because I saw the opportunity to improve myself through forced studying and teacher preparation. I admire many woman in our church who can just really teach a gospel principle and make you feel the Spirit while she teaches. I've been motivated by many women who challenge us through our Relief Society lessons to be better Christians. I wanted this calling so I can better be an instrument in my Heavenly Father's hands. So I can testify and stir into action. I'm so happy for the opportunity and challenge it will be. This is the first time the Lord has trusted me to teach the adults in our church. Up to this point, I've only had callings to teach children. While many lessons are learned there, I'm thankful to be able to be with my sisters.
The first lesson I'm supposed to teach is ironically "Love thy Neighbor as Thyself". All I can say is yeowch. Really, for my first lesson I'm given the one topic I struggle with the most in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can literally run circles around most topics and feel good about them, but this one... If you know me or my life at all, if you know how people affect me deeply, you will know the challenge that this one lesson is proving to be for me. The last year has been wrought with trial after trial on this topic for me. Up to the last year I can say, my life itself have been filled with this reoccurring trial. The never-ending quest for Melissa to figure out people, live with them in our world, and love them perfectly. It feels impossible, but I'm thankful for the trials I've had specifically over the last year or so to better prepare me for this lesson.
I've totally immersed myself in the scriptures and am finding that the more I do this, the more I feel love for my fellow men. Also, the more I read the scriptures, the more I see the predictions of our times and it's no wonder why I can't get along with others. I read over and over again about the love of man growing cold. We read about the backbiting, lying, corruption. We read about women and how they lose their way. We read about children not respecting adults. All the issues we struggle with as a society now were all warned about in the scriptures, and the more I read, the more patient I become because I know it's not just me hurt by these things, it's the Lord also and it's his job to judge, not mine. But the mystery remains to me on how to coexist with people so cruel and hurtful. So selfish and mean and not let it hurt you. I think of that scripture in Isaiah 53:7-9. I am always so impressed with our Savior. Specifically where it says all of these horrid things happened to him yet he did not open his mouth. Those people murdered Him, He knew they would. They spit on Him and mocked Him yet He opened not His mouth. What an example.
Recently I made a comment on someones blog from the deep center of my heart with the most kind intentions. I praised this person for some things of great worth I see her doing in her life. I'm not sure what I expected as I'm not surprised by people anymore, but what I got was defense. She got offended it seems and took what I said to be hard and hurtful. So I thought of two things: either everyone is so beaten down by others that this is a knee jerk reaction that we have as a society, or the signs of our times are upon us and the prophets predictions of our time is a living reality. I think both are in play, but it hurt. So I go back to that scripture in Isaiah...he opened not his mouth. That my friends is the secret. I felt compelled to respond, to clarify and apologize, but I know it would be of no worth. My words had to have been really twisted to evoke a feeling of defensiveness and my clarification would probably cause the same reaction. I opened not my mouth.
I did a search of mouth in the scriptures and read EVERY scripture related to this physical possession we all have. It was so very telling to me. The power of the mouth. Many times, in many places I've had to beg the Lord to place his hand over my mouth. I'm a very passionate person. I usually mean good, but I know they can't always handle it. The wicked take truth to be hard...right? I know I do when I'm being a turd and someone tells me. I heard this song once that said, "when I first learned to speak, I used all my words to fight." I feel that's the world we live in these days. I want to learn better how to not open my mouth.
All gospel principles begin with obedience to the law then the testimony comes. As I saw over the last year the profound affect people have been having on me, I started to subtract myself from the platforms of the world. I don't have a Facebook account, I never check blogs anymore (except maybe three), I don't even really blog much. I just wanted out...out of it all. Out of the world. Meanwhile I'm building the world the Lord wants within the walls of our home. The last year has been the hardest year of my membership in my church and from that tailor made trial emerged the strongest Melissa there has ever been in the gospel. I'm so very thankful for my trials. This one was extremely tough on me but wow did I rise to the challenge the Lord placed in front of me and my life is so very blessed because of my hard poopy work.
So this sunday as I teach my lesson on loving my neighbor, I won't profess my sins to the class. I won't harp on my insecurity on this topic, I will share the things the Lord has taught me and hope that just one person may be touched and motivated into action. You cannot love God and hate your neighbor. You cannot especially when you begin to see the profound love He has for our neighbors.
I'm so thankful for callings and opportunities to improve. I'm so thankful for a Father in heaven that knows ME. He knows me so well and I'm always amazed by it.