December 1, 2014…last week in La Follette!

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Thanks for all the pictures of Thanksgiving and Christmas tree adventures and Chana and Donovan and Draiden (they are so cute and I hope they’re still as hilarious!). And Kalan/harper/olive/liana/desmond. And Seth and Rachel’s new baby! Tell them to email me. 🙂 Aww and I just saw the one of Erica and Christian. I wish I had more people’s contact info! Just tell everyone hi and give them a big hug for me.

All right.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

3 Nephi 13:23. But if thing eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

So, Jesus has just said in this chapter that the light of the body is the eye. Our eyes are how we see the world. If our eyes, or the lens through which we see things, are dark, then everything is dark. With evil or dark eyes, or with a false, misguided, or evil perspective on life, we won’t properly ascertain truth and light. Our view would be clouded, we’d be looking through sunglasses. Still, we’d try to look. And we’d get as close to it as we could with the eyes we do have. Maybe that is why we can look back and wonder why we believed or thought something that now seems wrong or misguided–we were looking through darker or foggier eyes and couldn’t really have believed differently. Christ says, “if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light”–single meaning dedicated, or meaning single to the will of God. If our eye be single, Christ keeps adding more and more light to our eyes so we can see clearer and clearer, or get closer and closer to ascertaining truth through the Spirit, rather than doing the best we can with dark or cloudy eyes. There is a real danger, Christ insinuates, of having darkened eyes–thy whole body shall be full of darkness. In other words, your entire perspective will be mildly to extremely altered from the “truth.” And you wouldn’t be able to tell.

These are my thoughts in relation to the reality that you can literally make yourself believe in anything or have a “spiritual” experience about anything, and why so many people believe in so many different things. Perhaps they believe and feel good about certain things because they’re doing the best they can with the eyes they DO have. But Christ wants to give us new eyes.

Still, within the Church and among other believing people of the world, our eyes are flawed to varying degrees. They will be for the majority of our mortal lives, simply because we are human. But, if this is all true, there must be moments where Christ gives us the cleansing and the light we need. Or perhaps lets us see through His own eyes. This is the Spirit, this is Love, this is Truth. The more I humble myself and try to do what God wants me to do instead of what I want to do, the more I see and understand through eyes of light. This is why we convert, this is why we believe. I know that purity is so important. Whatever else is true, pure thoughts and pure motives and pure actions are what really allow a person to progress in life. Otherwise we are caught in selfishness and aggression and are separated from God, others, and ourselves.

“Truth lies not in facts alone, but in the meaning we give the facts.” The truth/falsity of different aspects of the church is contested by people who give different meanings to the same facts, not just from the facts alone. We watched the Restoration DVD with a girl named Nakitta this week. After it was over, we asked what she thought of it. She paused and said slowly, “It reminded me of God.” Right after that lesson, we saw a man with a leaf-blower outside of his house, so we went to go talk to him. He said he’d read parts of the Book of Mormon…I asked what he thought, and he said he thought it taught a false gospel and that what we are doing is evil. There is such a drastic difference in the way people receive us just in a single day. On the one hand, what we are doing is reminding people of God. On the other, we are teaching an evil and false gospel. When I am honest with myself and everything I know about church history and the confusions and loopholes, I know that I can handle leaders being imperfect. Of doctrines being misunderstood and later clarified (or still misunderstood?). I can handle the gender balance because I know it is also being clarified and changed. I can be patient and forgiving of these things…although they DO try my patience at times…you all know me(:

Other than all that, the core of my questioning the church has been about Joseph Smith and polygamy. He says he was commanded, and that’s been hard for me. Either he was lying and a creep, or he was deluded and thought he was commanded to live polygamy, or he really was commanded by God to live that law, however well or poorly he understood it, and he did it despite his own desires and with a LOT of faith, with persecutions and mistakes and misunderstandings to follow. Those are the options, and that is the question. I’m still seeking to understand the meanings that give the facts truth.

And then there are all the good things… I KNOW I’m a better person when I read the scriptures. I make better decisions on the days I read the Book of Mormon, end of story. I know prayer changes desires. I know that studying the life and teachings of a perfect person, Jesus Christ, has the power to motivate me and change me. I know that light is good.

Got transfer news, I am leaving Sister Rindlisbacher and La Follette! I will miss everyone here, they have all been so good to me. Brother and Sister Elam gave me a goodbye gift and it was so sweet of them! We also got to eat at the Holler (the Smith’s hollow) last night…that’s the Branch President’s family. I have really appreciated them a lot! They are hilarious and my friends.

I have lots of pictures but will have to post them next week. Love you all!

Sister Hale 🙂

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